Super Middleweight: 2014, Jun 2-8

In Saturday’s headliner from London, #1 Carl Froch notched another win in the rematch with bitter rival #7 George Groves, and this time avoided any of the controversy from the first fight.  It was still a good, competitive affair, and Groves still had his share of success early, but he wasn’t able to put Froch through anything approaching the same level of adversity he dealt out the first time.  The rounds Groves may have won early on were also significantly less clear than the first iteration.  If you really want to boil it down to the most fundamental difference, Groves was still the sharper and faster guy at the outset, but he countered with much less abandon- that is to say more cautiously- than he did the first time around.  You might describe him, at least relative to the first fight, as tense.  This tension allowed Froch to catch up to him much more quickly in terms of speed and timing, and with Froch ahead 67-66 on my card, he knocked Groves out in the 8th.  The fact that Froch was not concussed early in the fight, as he clearly was the first time, couldn’t have hurt.

 

In an excellent co-feature match-up that could have headlined many a fine Saturday TV card in its own right, #10 James DeGale looked sensational at times against #4 Brandon Gonzales, including the entire first round, and especially the 4th in which he dropped Gonzales with a blistering combination.  Gonzales gamely rose to his feet, and seemed to retain a surprising amount of his faculties considering how heavily and often he had just been hit.  DeGale didn’t let up, and once again landed a heavy shot that had Gonzales hurt with about 30 seconds remaining in the round.  That’s when it all went South, though, as British referee Steve Gray pulled a pathetic hometown move and stopped the fight ridiculously prematurely, with Gonzales having his hands up, and with DeGale having just missed wildly with two swings from the heels.  Obviously Gonzales was hurt and struggling at that moment, but he had been competitive in the fight- winning the 2nd round on my card- and with that little time left and with no landed punch actually necessitating the stoppage at that moment, I think it’s impossible to reasonably conclude that Gonzales didn’t stand a chance to make it out of the 4th, and didn’t stand some chance to come back in the fight overall.  We’ll never know because of Steve Gray, who probably unintentionally robbed James DeGale of an unquestionable, complete, and sensational win in the biggest fight of his career to this point, all while trying subconsciously to rob the visiting fighter Gonzales of a chance- shrinking though it was- to win the fight.  For rankings purposes, I’ll have to view it as something along the lines of a clear 4-round decision, since the ref’s error prevented a legitimate stoppage from occurring, and since DeGale would certainly have been clearly up on the cards if the 4th had been allowed to complete.  Technically, my own precedent might demand that I treat this as a no contest since the fight was ended before the completion of 4 rounds by what amounts to a foul by the referee.  But that would be a bad result given the spirit of that precedent.  I can’t give DeGale full credit for a stoppage he hadn’t fully earned, but a badly hurt Gonzales needed two knockdowns in less than 30 seconds to avoid being behind on the scorecards if and when the 4th round ended, and that would have been practically impossible.

 

In one of the most heinous robberies I’ve ever seen, Mariano Hilario was gifted a unanimous decision victory over Italian journeyman Roberto Cocco.  The fight wasn’t even particularly competitive.  Cocco suffered a flash knockdown that appeared to be more from balance than anything else in the 12th, but clearly won the round apart from that.  He may have won every round other than that one, and certainly lost no more than three.  Cocco was clearly the much harder puncher, landed much more, was constantly the aggressor, and fought the entirety of the fight with his back to the ring, while Hilario fought it with his back to the ropes.  Hilario contantly grabbed and pulled Cocco’s head down, to the point that he probably should have lost about three points, but yet referee Jan Christensen warned Cocco more often for absolutely nothing than he did Hilario for this and other assorted fouls.  Even aside from the pernicious bias, Christensen was WAY too fussy.  He interrupted the fight for various verbose warnings so much that he may have actually been speaking more often than the fighters were fighting.  While he didn’t take needed points from Hilario, though, he at least was sensible enough to limit his undeserved sanctions against Cocco to constant fussing rather than actually taking a point.  The same can’t be said for the frankly disgusting and pathetic judges.  Erkki Meronen turned in maybe the worst single card I’ve ever personally witnessed, scoring it 117-110 for Hilario.  To reach that score, it means he gave Hilario an undeserved 10-8 round, scored both close rounds in favor of Hilario, and then scored SIX clear Cocco rounds for Hilario.  SIX!  Andre Pasquier was nearly as bad, but managed to only give five clear Cocco rounds to Hilario, in addition to the other conditions.  Beat Hausammann turned in a card that’s harder to pin down because it had some undetermined number of even rounds added in, but he was pretty horrible, as well, though he had it only 115-114 in favor of the dominated loser, Hilario.  Obviously I’m going to treat this as the dominant win for Cocco that it truly was.

 

Groves and Froch merely confirmed their earlier result, and the fight has no material effect on either man’s ranking.  DeGale moves up to #4, while former #4 Gonzales falls back to #8 behind Groves, who arguably beat DeGale when those two met in 2011.  Cocco has a very poor overall record, and thus only moves to the borderline top 50 level, despite beating a borderline top 50 guy.  Hilario is just below that now.  With the movement of DeGale and Gonzales, Chavez and Vera each backtrack one spot.

 

Dan’s Top 20
Champ: Andre Ward (129-263-263)
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 (106-416-416)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- KO8 #7 George Groves
Next Fight: Unknown
Froch dispelled any doubts with a more conclusive stoppage of Groves.
2) Arthur Abraham (14-241-241)
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 (14-249-249)
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) James DeGale (1-2-138)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- TKO4* #4 Brandon Gonzales
Next Fight: Unknown
DeGale is now set up for a shot at Froch’s title, in a fight that would no doubt do huge numbers in the UK again.
5) Thomas Oosthuizen (2-157-205)
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 (2-30-75)
Last Fight: 4/25/2014- TKO3 Richard Vidal (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Maderna stayed busy in impressive fashion against Vidal.
7) George Groves (2-77-99)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- L (TKO9) vs. #1 Carl Froch
Next Fight: 5/31/2014- vs. #1 Carl Froch
Some unconfirmed theories suggest Groves might finally rematch DeGale soon, though DeGale is already in line for a shot at Froch.
8) Brandon Gonzales (1-49-49)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- L (TKO4*) vs. #10 James DeGale
Next Fight: Unknown
Gonzales deserved a shot to continue, but he certainly didn’t look like an eventual winner under the best of circumstances against DeGale.
9) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (1-14-14)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- UD10 #5 MW Bryan Vera
Next Fight: Unknown
Despite Froch’s #1 contender being DeGale now, Chavez is getting buzz as a possible next opponent for the world-beating Brit.
10) Bryan Vera (1-14-14)
Last Fight: 3/1/2014- L (UD10) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Vera is calling out Peter Quillin.
11) Christopher Rebrasse (2-52)
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 (2-374)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- Draw (SD12) vs. Anthony Dirrell (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Bika is interested in a fight with Froch.
13) Maxim Vlasov (2-82)
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 (2-72)
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 (2-18)
Last Fight: 4/11/2014- TKO5 Giovanni Lorenzo (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/19/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Ramirez will fight a TBA opponent in Macau on July 19.
16) Ryota Murata (2-41)
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 (2-26)
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 (2-66)
Last Fight: 11/30/2013- TKO5 Bartlomiej Grafka (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
19) Caleb Truax (2-8)
Last Fight: 1/3/2014- Draw (MD10) vs. Ossie Duran (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
20) Derek Edwards (2-2)
Last Fight: 2/28/2014- TKO1 #20 Badou Jack
Next Fight: Unknown

 

The Week Ahead: 
Friday
Jorge Sebastian Heiland vs. Cesar Reynoso; Benavidez, Argentina; TyC Sports (Argentina)
Heiland is a gatekeeper at middleweight coming off the biggest win of his career- a very tight battle with Billi Godoy that ended controversially, in my view.  Reynoso is a mid-level journeyman from Mar del Plata, and not likely much of a threat
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