Middleweight: 2014, Jun 2-8

I’m going to make this point one time, and then set aside my bias against the obfuscation and cheating that has typified #8 Sam Soliman’s public persona for the last year.  Soliman looked great against #2 Felix Sturm on Saturday, and at 40 years old appeared to have a boundless reserve of energy.  He was much better than he was a year ago, when he was busted for a banned stimulant.  Frankly, he looked like he was on a banned stimulant.  But I have no special reason to believe that except that he has been before and looked really good, so I can only report my impressions.  I’m going to treat him as if he was clean this time around except to mention my unfounded suspicion that he was not.  

 

Now on to the fight itself.  Soliman flashed a brilliant jab that was penetrating and stinging, and which landed almost at will throughout the fight.  He was also very awkward, and showed just enough frenetic movement to keep Sturm off balance and seemingly a bit confused.  Sturm was very repetitive in his tendency to walk to Soliman, but seldom let his hands go.  I only gave Sturm the first round, and only thought he had an argument in rounds six and nine besides that.  The judges did a solid job, scoring it 118-110 (Don Trella), 117-111 (Miroslav Brozio), and 118-110 (John Poturaj).

 

I could only dig up brief highlights, but to the extent those can be believed, #9 Sergio Mora fully had his way with Samuel Rogers, a moderately-unproven one-loss prospect from the Virgin Islands who was coming off his first career loss to a mid-level journeyman in Argentina.  I can’t accurately describe the overall flow of the 5 rounds, but I know that Rogers went down at least once, and that referee Russell Mora stepped in to stop it 5 seconds before the close of the 5th, with Mora pounding Rogers relentlessly on the ropes.

 

In a very excellent matchup of two fairly advanced undefeated prospects in Mytishchi, Russia on Sunday, #20 Dmitry Chudinov frankly had a much easier time of it than I would have expected with Patrick Nielsen.  Nielsen simply wasn’t willing to engage earlier in the fight.  That’s not merely to say he was trying to box, though he was, but rather that he wasn’t committing to his punches even when he would counter, apparently out of fear of the aggressive and harder-hitting Chudinov.  I had it 119-109 for the Russian, and thought it could legitimately have swung a round in either direction.  The judges apparently saw a different fight for some reason, with Ignacio Robles scoring it a generous 117-111, Carlos Sucre having it a head-scratching 116-112, and Glenn Feldman turning in a preposterous 115-113.  Even so, the right guy won.

 

Soliman’s win over Sturm is the best win either man has between him and Golovkin, but while Sturm is narrowly more highly-ranked than was Proksa when Golovkin beat him, Golovkin’s 2nd-best was #5 Macklin, while Soliman’s was much less impressive: #15 Garth Wood.  That, coupled with greater activity against top 20, top 25, and top 50 fighters, makes it easy to choose Golovkin to retain his position as #1 contender.  Soliman does obviously supplant Sturm at #2, who is still able to hold off Geale at #3 due to his recent win over Barker and Geale’s recent loss to same.  Chudinov’s win puts him in a much more comfortable position, just outside the top 10 at #11.  This naturally forces everyone #11-19 last week to fall one spot.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Sergio Martinez (216-216-216)
Last Fight: 4/27/2013- UD12* #9 Martin Murray (Robbery- draw at best)
Next Fight: 6/7/2014- vs. # 8 JMW Miguel Cotto
If there was any lingering doubt, Martinez-Cotto is now on for June 7 at Madison Square Garden.
1) Gennady Golovkin (25-92-155)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- TKO7 Osumanu Adama (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/26/2014- vs. #4 Daniel Geale
Golovkin-Geale is official for July 26 in New York.
2) Sam Soliman (1-25-25)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- UD12 #2 Felix Sturm
Next Fight: Unknown
Soliman dominated Sturm in the rematch after getting a very fortunate decision the first time before a banned stimulant incident led to a no contest.  So far as we know so far, he was clean this time, too, though he did look extremely energetic.
3) Felix Sturm (1-559-559)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- L (UD12) vs. #8 Sam Soliman
Next Fight: Unknown
Sturm might be on his way out, with his rematch performance head and shoulders below his effort in the first fight with Soliman.
4) Daniel Geale (1-259-259)
Last Fight: 2/19/2014- RTD6 Garth Wood (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/26/2014- vs. #1 Gennady Golovkin
See Golovkin’s notes, above.
5) Peter Quillin (1-85-106)
Last Fight: 4/19/2014- UD12 Lukas Konecny (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBO has mandated Quillin to fight British prospect Billy Joe Saunders next.  There continues to be talk of an endlessly-theorized all-Golden Boy showdown with Daniel Jacobs, though, and perhaps a fight with Lemieux after that.  Sergio Mora has also indicated interest.
6) Martin Murray (1-131-131)
Last Fight: 4/23/2014- RTD6 Ishmael Tetteh (UNR) at SMW
Next Fight: 6/21/2014- vs. #14 Max Bursak
Murray hasn’t looked at all special since nearly and probably deservedly knocking off the Champ last April, but he’ll need to be in some kind of form in June if he hopes to handle the always tough Max Bursak.
7) Matthew Macklin (1-154-245)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD10 Lamar Russ (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Macklin’s fight with Geale is off due to an injury on the card, and Geale has bailed on the fight altogether in favor of a shot at GGG.
8) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (1-25-25)
Last Fight: 4/16/2014- UD10 Fulgencio Zuniga (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
N’Dam says he wants Rosado next, and then Golovkin.
9) Sergio Mora (20-49-49)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- TKO5 Samuel Rogers (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mora wants Quillin.
10) Osumanu Adama (18-18-18)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- L (TKO7) vs. #1 Gennady Golovkin
Next Fight: Unknown
Not the most pleasant entry into the rankings we’ve ever seen, but his resume stacks up pretty well as long as he’s active and on weight.
11) Dmitry Chudinov (1-10)
Last Fight: 6/1/2014- UD12 Patrick Nielsen (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chudinov got a shocking lack of love from an international judging panel in his own back yard, but still got the win and can rightly claim to have dominated a solid undefeated prospect in Nielsen.
12) Marco Antonio Rubio (1-175)
Last Fight: 4/5/2014- KO10* Domenico Spada (UNR)
Next Fight:Unknown
13) Jarrod Fletcher (1-18)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- W* (UD12) vs. #12 Max Bursak
Next Fight: Unknown
The WBA randomly ordered Golovkin to fight Fletcher, but then apparently relented in favor of Daniel Geale.
14) Max Bursak (1-175)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- L* (UD12) vs. Jarrod Fletcher (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/21/2014- vs. #6 Martin Murray
Bursak will get a big opportunity before Jarrod Fletcher, who outpointed him in a moderately controversial decision in February, as he has been tapped by Martin Murray for a June 21 fight in Monte Carlo.
15) David Lemieux (1-2)
Last Fight: 5/24/2014- KO3 Fernando Guerrero (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Lemieux’s eye-popping domination of Guerrero has fueled idle speculation of a potential shot at Peter Quillin, who is short on options for high-level opponents due to the ongoing Showtime-HBO feud.
16) Grzegorz Proksa (1-164)
Last Fight: 6/28/2013- L (UD10) vs. Sergio Mora (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
17) Caleb Truax (1-37)
Last Fight: 1/3/2014- Draw (UD10) vs. Ossie Duran (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Truax’s status as a promising prospect has been derailed somewhat by the very tough Ossie Duran.
18) Curtis Stevens (1-44)
Last Fight: 4/4/2014- TKO10* Tureano Johnson (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Stevens’ haplessness for all but the last few seconds of his prematurely-stopped bout with Tureano Johnson has got to raise questions about his ability to rise any higher than he finds himself now.  Johnson has respectfully pushed for a rematch.
19) Andrey Meryasev (1-30)
Last Fight: 4/26/2014- UD10 Carlos Baldomir (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Meryasev dominated in pedestrian fashion against the now-retired Baldomir.
20) Daniel Jacobs (1-41)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- TKO1 Milton Nunez (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Easy work for Jacobs against Nunez.  He’s looking for a title fight- probably against Quillin- at the earliest opportunity.
 

 

The Week Ahead:  
Friday
Hugo Centeno vs. Gerardo Ibarra; Indio, California; Showtime (US)
Centeno is technically an undefeated prospect, but was pretty badly beaten by Julian Williams in what ended up as a no contest probably a matter of seconds before Williams would have gone on to stop him.  Still, he’s much more advanced than Ibarra, who is also unbeaten, but has never fought anyone really at all.  Ibarra is from Houston, while Centeno hails from Oxnard, CA.  Centeno is more of a light middleweight really, while Ibarra seems to be more of a middleweight.

 

Saturday
Les Sherrington vs. Kazuyuki Fukuyama; Townsville, Australia; TV Unknown
Sherrington is a perennial gatekeeper who will have no trouble with a low-level and inexperienced journeyman like Japan’s Fukuyama, barring an injury like the broken leg that led to a stoppage loss against the awful Kashif Mumtaz in 2011.

 

Michel Soro vs. Alexey Ribchev; Villeurbanne, France; Off TV
Soro is a French prospect who was robbed of his biggest win in 2012 against currently-ranked Zaurbek Baysangurov at 154.  He’s probably still a 154-pounder, but will be tuning up against mid-level Bulgarian journeyman Alexey Ribchev.  Ribchev is nothing special by any means, but he has played an effective spoiler before, upsetting the decent Matthew Hall in England back in 2011.

 

Chris Eubank, Jr. vs. Stepan Horvath; Newcastle, England; BoxNation (UK)
Eubank is a very talented guy with a minimalist style (that is to say he poses as often as he punches) and an annoying personality reminiscent of Adrien Broner.  Horvath is a low-level Czech journeyman who doesn’t stand the slightest chance.

 

Marcos Reyes vs. Octavio Castro; Chihuahua, Mexico; Fox Deportes (US)
Reyes is a one-loss prospect from Chihuahua.  He avenged his lone loss, which occurred 18 fights ago in 2010.  That’s a lot of activity in that time period, if you’re keeping count.  Castro is a 31 year-old lower-mid-level journeyman from Sonora who has lost 7 of his last 9 fights that reached conclusion, and shouldn’t pose much of a problem for his younger countryman.

 

Champ Sergio Martinez vs. #8 JMW Miguel Cotto; New York, New York; HBO (US)
Martinez is bigger and faster, and maybe more powerful, as well.  The odds would be long on Cotto winning if you could assume a healthy outing from the Champ.  You simply can’t do that, though.  Sergio injured his knee and hand and should have lost his fight with Martin Murray in 2013.  Before that, he suffered a similar set of injuries in his previous fight- a dominant win with a scary ending against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.  Cotto looked dynamic in his last fight, a stoppage of Delvin Rodriguez, but Rodriguez didn’t look like much in his subsequent outing.  Before that, he was easily handled by Austin Trout, who, while a quality boxer, is smaller and less dynamic than Maravilla.  I truly think that a healthy Martinez probably dominates and maybe stops Cotto, but that Cotto easily wins against a compromised Sergio.  The chances of a fight that is competitive from bell to bell is very small, I think.  It’ll be one extreme or the other.
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