Super Middleweight: 2014, May 26- Jun 1

All of the action this week at 168 strangely took place on two separate Thursday cards in far-flung parts of the world.

 

Undefeated #17 Ryota Murata once again fought just a shade over 160, pummelling a game but overmatched Jesus Nerio of Mexico with increasing ferocity as the fight wore on, finally breaking his man down to a 6th-round TKO.  Murata still looks a little stiff and unimaginitive, and doesn’t seem to have great reflexes on defense, but he is a solid puncher who at least so far shows relentless aggression from bell to bell.  He might not be a future champ, but he’s probably always going to be a fun guy to watch, if nothing else.  Not to mention the fact that he does still have plenty of room to improve, considering he’s only had 4 fights now as a pro.

 

Later that night in Pointe Claire, Quebec, once-beaten Haitian Schiller Hyppolite knocked out mid-level Uruguayan journeyman Rafael Sosa with a body shot late in round 1, having only had maybe two punches thrown at him in the whole fight.  Sosa was simply covering up, and was pretty much just there to collect a check, it appeared.

 

The only change on the week is that Mikkel Kessler, despite his recent announcement that he would not retire, is removed for failing to schedule a fight for over a year.  Everyone ranked #5 and below last week moves up, including James DeGale, who claims a top 10 spot just in time for his upcoming fight with newly-minted #4 Brandon Gonzales.  Claiming the vacancy at #20 is Derek Edwards, on the strength of his upset knockout win over Badou Jack.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (128-262-262)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD12 #13 Edwin Rodriguez
Next Fight: Unknown
Ward lost an arbitration with his promoter, but it sounds like the rift between the two is far from solved.  Kessler is the latest guy to renew a stated desire to fight him.
1) Carl Froch (105-415-415)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- TKO9 #8 George Groves
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. #7 George Groves
There is talk of a record gate when Froch meets Groves in a highly anticipated rematch in a London soccer stadium at the end of May.
2) Arthur Abraham (13-240-240)
Last Fight: 5/3/2014- UD12 Nikola Sjekloca (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
While he recovers from a broken hand, Abraham’s promoter is working on a fall bout with English gatekeeper Paul Smith.
3) Robert Stieglitz (13-248-248)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- L (SD12) vs. #4 Arthur Abraham
Next Fight: Unknown
Sauerland prospect Tyron Zeuge has expressed interest in a fight with Stieglitz.
4) Brandon Gonzales (1-48-48)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD10 Jonathan Nelson (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. #10 James DeGale
Gonzales’ elminator with DeGale is finally set, for May 31 in London, on the Froch-Groves undercard.
5) Thomas Oosthuizen (1-156-204)
Last Fight: 11/9/2013- W* (MD12) vs. #13 Ezequiel Maderna
Next Fight: 6/21/2014- vs. Doudou Ngumbu (UNR) (at LHW)
Oosthuizen and promoter Rodney Berman have patched things up, and the lanky South African will make effective his move to 175 on June 21 against fringe contender Doudou Ngumbu.  He’ll keep his ranking here until after November 9, or until he schedules a clearly light heavyweight fight for after that date.
6) Ezequiel Maderna (1-29-74)
Last Fight: 4/25/2014- TKO3 Richard Vidal (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Maderna stayed busy in impressive fashion against Vidal.
7) George Groves (1-76-98)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- L (TKO9) vs. #1 Carl Froch
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. #1 Carl Froch
See Froch’s notes, above.
8) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (1-13-13)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- UD10 #5 MW Bryan Vera
Next Fight: Unknown
Chavez is, at least for the time being, effectively a former Top Rank fighter, and he and Arum are at odds over who truly scuttled the now apparently unlikely Golovkin fight that appeared all but made at one point.
9) Bryan Vera (1-13-13)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- L (UD10) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Vera is calling out Peter Quillin.
10) James DeGale (1-1-137)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- TKO11 Gevorg Khatchikian (UNR)
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. #4 Brandon Gonzales
See Gonzales’ notes, above.
11) Christopher Rebrasse (1-51)
Last Fight: 3/22/2014- TKO4 Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Rebrasse now has two dominant wins over what was a top 10 contender the first time around.  He didn’t need the judges to notice the second time.
12) Sakio Bika (1-373)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- Draw (SD12) vs. Anthony Dirrell (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After initially granting Julio Cesar Chavez the spot, the WBC has now made James DeGale the mandatory after it appeared Chavez would likely look at a different opportunity.  That may also have gone by the wayside by now, as DeGale is fighting Brandon Gonzales for a shot at the IBF title.  For Bika’s part, he wants Chavez.
13) Maxim Vlasov (1-81)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- UD8 Derrick Findley (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Vlasov looked very good against Findley, but he’ll need to schedule a fight at Super Middleweight before May 5 and make weight in order to keep his ranking, since he hasn’t made the divisional limit since November 2012.
14) Edwin Rodriguez (1-71)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- L (UD12) vs. Champ Andre Ward
Next Fight: Unknown
Rodriguez was briefly scheduled to fight Marcus Johnson on May 24, but Johnson withdrew.
15) Gilberto Ramirez (1-17)
Last Fight: 4/11/2014- TKO5 Giovanni Lorenzo (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Ramirez was pencilled in to return on the Chavez-Golovkin card, but that fight now looks dead.
16) Ryota Murata (1-40)
Last Fight: 5/22/2014- KO6 Jesus Angel Nerio (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Murata set the bar high for himself by beating a fringe contender in his pro debut.  Fights like the Nerio domination are just stay-busy efforts by comparison.
17) Anthony Dirrell (1-25)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- Draw (SD12) vs. #11 Sakio Bika
Next Fight: Unknown
His hard-fought draw with Sakio Bika gained Dirrell a measure of redemption for what pretty clearly should have been a loss against Don Mouton, and has him back in the hot prospect category.  He’s called for a rematch (good idea) and a fight with Golovkin (bad idea).
18) Hadillah Mohoumadi (1-65)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
19) Caleb Truax (1-7)
Last Fight: 1/3/2014- Draw (MD10) vs. Ossie Duran (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
20) Derek Edwards (1-1)
Last Fight: 2/28/2014- TKO1 #20 Badou Jack
Next Fight: Unknown

 

The Week Ahead: 
Saturday
Mariano Hilario vs. Roberto Cocco; Teguise, Spain; TV Unknown
Hilario is a Dominican living in Spain’s Canary Islands.  He comes off his career-best performance in a TKO win over prospect Samy Anouche, but is still on the borderline of the top 50 by reason of a couple really bad losses before that.  Cocco is a mid-level journeyman from Torino, Italy who should have a shot only if Hilario is less the man that beat Anouche and more the man that has the two bad losses.  That’s very much an open question.

 

#1 Carl Froch vs. #8 George Groves; London, England; Sky (UK)
There’s not a lot left to be said about this one, but just in case you don’t follow the division much, this is a rematch of the pair’s November meeting, in which Groves was leading Froch and had most likely concussed him early in the fight.  Froch had dramatically turned it around in the 9th, and had Groves reeling, turning around, and falling away, when referee Howard Foster stepped in to stop it.  The general consensus seems to be that it was a premature ending.  I personally differ on that point.  Groves had given Froch his back involuntarily, and was helpless at that moment against what was about to be an incoming Froch punch.  I wouldn’t have minded seeing a few more seconds to give Groves a chance to recover, but it also could have gone very bad very quickly.  Froch is by a mile the #1 contender to Ward’s crown, and Groves may just be the future of the division if he can build on his prior performance and avoid a similar letdown.

 

#5 Brandon Gonzales vs. #11 James DeGale; London, England; Sky (UK)
This is very much a toss-up fight.  DeGale is the more heralded prospect, really, but he’s had some fairly indifferent performances over the last few years.  Most of those have been explained away by a nagging injury, but I’m still not sure he’s fully dispelled the doubts.  Gonzales was at one point no great prospect, having needed a blatant robbery to survive a tough fight with Ossie Duran in October 2011.  But he bounced back a year ago with what should have been a win (it was declared a draw) against then-5th-ranked Thomas Oosthuizen.  He hasn’t had any significant action since then, so this will be a heck of a test for two guys that both need to be tested a little bit.  A likely top 5 berth in the rankings is on the line.
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