Junior Middleweight: 2014, Jun 9-15

In a shockingly competitive fight in France on Friday, gatekeeper Frank Haroche Horta had a tough time beating back the challenge of Kevin Bertogal, who entered with more losses than wins by a 2-1 margin.  He looked significantly better than that, with truly remarkable handspeed, and a rare ability to punch with snap and accuracy while practically on the run.  I can’t go too deeply into how I felt about the results specifically, due to the fact that the only video I found had at least 3 rounds in which at least 30 seconds were missing.  One judge, Ali Oubaali, had it for Bertogal 78-74.  I can say for sure that he was clearly wrong.  Of the 5 rounds I felt I could legitimately score, Haroche Horta clearly won 3.  I gave him the other two, as well, but those were toss-ups.  In any case, it was a fine effort by Bertogal, but ultimately has no bearing on the rankings.

 

Later that night in Benavidez, Argentina, #15 Cesar Sastre Silva fell by stoppage to 6-0 prospect Brian Castano of Isidro Casanova.  Castano looked like a legitimate prospect, and flashed two-handed power typical of high-level Argentine performers, as well as impressive timing and overall balance.  The first two rounds seemed to foreshadow a back-and-forth fight, but Sastre Silva had trouble defending himself after that, as his hands seemed to drop round by round.  Castano scored cleanly with regularity in round 3, and carried that momentum into the 4th, when he dropped Sastre Silva and never looked back, continuing to tag his man, especially with an uncontested right hand.  Having witnessed a large number of unanswered clean shots from Castano, referee Antonio Zaragoza and Sastre Silva’s corner got the same idea around the same time, and appeared to signal the end of the fight independently of one another at about the same moment.  Sastre Silva was probably overrated at #15 based on a isolated really good night against Maciel, but this is still bound to be a great springboard for Castano, at least in my book.

 

In a fight contracted at 149, unbeaten prospect Eddie Gomez got jobbed against more experienced gatekeeper Francisco Santana on ShoBox from Indio, California.  Gomez built up what should have been a big lead early, winning the first 5 rounds clearly, as I saw it.  The fight turned drastically in the 6th, when Santana hurt Gomez so badly and beat him in such a sustained fashion that it could have been scored 10-8 without a knockdown, though I didn’t go quite that far.  The undefeated Gomez righted the ship a little in the 7th, but still lost the round clearly.  The 8th round was much closer, but I think Gomez bounced back to win it in pretty clear fashion anyway.  Santana probably nicked the 9th, though that was the closest round of the fight in my view, and clearly took the 10th.  On my card, Santana narrowly failed to come back enough to win the fight, and I had Gomez the clear winner at 96-94, with reasonable scores ranging between 95-94 and 97-93 Gomez.  None of the judges were reasonable, as it turned out.  Raul Caiz, Sr. saw it 96-94 Santana.  That’s a stretch, but at least if you gave Santana all the rounds identifiable as kinda close, you could kinda see where he was coming from.  Tony Crebs, at 97-93, was not so justifiable.  I literally can’t even begin to imagine what round it was, in addition to the ones that Caiz must have given him, that Crebs thought was remotely close to being scorable in Santana’s favor.  He gave Santana at least one crystal clear Gomez round.  But the most distinguished botch-job of the night belonged to Ray Corona, who only gave the clear winner of the fight two solitary rounds.  I can’t even begin to explain the last two cards, nor would I want to.  Despite fading badly in the 2nd half, there’s no doubt in my mind that Gomez won the fight, and he’ll be treated as such on this site.

 

Moving forward to Saturday, Andy Lee pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the New York opener of HBO’s card.  One-loss prospect John Jackson of the Virgin Islands was dominating the fallen Irish former middleweight contender and beating him up pretty bad, having scored a knockdown in the first.  Lee looked to be on his way to a stoppage loss when, in the 5th, he suddenly caught Jackson with a single counter shot that ended it with a shocking and sudden knockout.  It hadn’t gone as long, but it otherwise reminded me a lot of Randall Bailey’s sudden demolition of a dominant Mike Jones a couple years back.

 

One fight later on the same card, the aforementioned Javier Maciel, who had been ranked near the top 10 before needing a blatant robbery to beat the aforementioned Sastre Silva, got a measure of redemption in his HBO debut at Madison Square Garden, taking a hard-earned 10-round majority decision over gatekeeper-level Puerto Rican Jorge Melendez.  Maciel had taken the fight on just 3 weeks’ notice, and he did seem to tire towards the end as you might expect, but to me he seemed to still have plenty left anyway.  Even when apparently tired, his shots still had more effect than those of Melendez.  Even so, the Puerto Rican gave a very respectable effort, and at least managed to keep most of the rounds close.  Round by round, I had Maciel in a toss-up in the first, Melendez in similar fashion in the 2nd and 3rd, Maciel big in the 4th, including a knockdown and a point deduction on his opponent for low blows, Maciel in a toss-up in the 5th, Melendez by toss-up in the 6th, Maciel clear in the 7th, toss-up in the 8th, and by a close but clear margin in the 9th and 10th.  My final score was 96-92 Maciel, and I thought a range of 95-93 and 99-95 Maciel would encompass reasonable scores.  John Stewart was a little generous to Melendez, I thought, and had it a draw at 94-94. Waleska Roldan saw it identical to my card, while Don Trella reasonably scored one extra round for Maciel at 97-91.  

 

#19 Willie Nelson was on the card’s non-televised deep undercard, blasting journeyman Darryl Cunningham for two knockdowns in the first round before the doctor stopped it.  This turned out to be a middleweight fight, and since Nelson was a full 3 pounds off the divisional limit of 154, he risks being removed for inactivity/moving up if he doesn’t have another plausibly light middleweight fight signed by essentially the end of the month.

 

Miguel Cotto won the Middleweight Championship in the card’s main event, but that has been discussed fully in my 160 update.  That being said, Cotto only scaled 155 for the fight, and my general policy is that a fighter will get full credit in a given division for a performance in which he came within 2 pounds of the divisional limit, assuming he has rankable performances independently of the fight, and assuming his additional weight didn’t afford him an unfair advantage.  In this case, his opponent outweighed him by almost 4 pounds, and he’s already ranked #8 here.  Therefore, the fight will do him a lot of favors here at 154, as well.

 

This division is very soupy at the top, and you could make a case for Cotto to be ranked as high as #1.  On the other hand, he clearly lost to Austin Trout, while Erislandy Lara dominated Trout without having any other serious blemishes on his recent record.  Combined with the likelihood that Sergio, for health reasons, doesn’t really translate to a top-level 154 pounder at present, leaves Cotto at #4.  How is he ahead of Mayweather, you ask?  Well, Mayweather just deserved to lose a fight at a lower weight in his last outing, and I thought his fight with Cotto could have gone either way, anyhow.  Sastre Silva drops from the top 20, and is now best viewed as a gatekeeper. Martirosyan moves up to claim his former spot, while Castano debuts at #16.  Maciel and Lee are both held back from serious consideration by their recent bad performances, and so there are no further changes.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: None
1) Saul Alvarez (14-171-186)
Last Fight: 3/8/2014- TKO10 #10 Alfredo Angulo (at 155)
Next Fight: 7/12/2014- vs. #3 Erislandy Lara
Canelo came knocking, and Lara answered the door.
2) Carlos Molina (14-153-168)
Last Fight: 9/14/2013- W (SD12) vs. #5 Ishe Smith
Next Fight: Unknown
Molina is out of jail and training in Mexico City.  He lobbied the IBF to give him an exemption to defend his belt against Jermall Charlo, whom he was supposed to face already before he was jailed, but the alphabet is sticking to its guns and will try to make him fight Bundrage, instead.
3) Erislandy Lara (14-153-175)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD12 #4 Austin Trout
Next Fight: 7/12/2014- vs. #1 Saul Alvarez
Lara traded an intended fight with Ishe Smith for a more lucrative and important showdown with Canelo.  The fight might not determine a legitimate champion, but it should at least crown a preeminent top contender.
4) Miguel Cotto (1-210-210)
Last Fight: 6/7/2014- RTD10 MW Champ Sergio Martinez (at MW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Cotto is now the Middleweight Champion, so it remains to be seen if he’ll continue to fight at 154 at all.
5) Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (1-39-39)
Last Fight: 5/3/2014- W* (MD12) vs. #4 WW Marcos Maidana (at WW)
Next Fight: 9/13/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Floyd will be fighting on September 13.  A Maidana rematch remains a possibility.
6) Austin Trout (1-106-175)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- L (UD12) vs. #5 Erislandy Lara
Next Fight: 7/19/2014- vs. Daniel Dawson (UNR)
Trout will look to get back on track with a fairly easy Friday Night Fights main event against upper mid-level Australian journeyman Daniel Dawson, who was once a fringe contender, but not since 2007.
7) Ishe Smith (1-68-68)
Last Fight: 5/2/2014- KO2 Ryan Davis (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I know he was a relatively short-notice replacement, but Ryan Davis was a little too hapless even by that standard.
8) Joshua Clottey (1-9-9)
Last Fight: 4/9/2014- UD12 #7 Anthony Mundine
Next Fight: Unknown
For those looking for a good way to revitalize a practically evaporated career, you couldn’t do much better than the example Clottey just provided.  He wants to fight Mayweather, but I’d say he’s at least one top 5 win away from having a chance at that.
9) Anthony Mundine (9-28-28)
Last Fight: 4/9/2014- L (UD12) vs. Joshua Clottey (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mundine is reportedly in talks to bring the now much larger and also more retired Danny Green into a rematch.
10) Cornelius Bundrage (9-201-201)
Last Fight: 1/24/2014- UD12 Joey Hernandez (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
It appears that Bundrage has jumped to the front of the line to challenge for Molina’s belt, and his would-be opponent is now out of jail and training.
11Alfredo Angulo (9-246)
Last Fight: 3/8/2014- L (TKO10) vs. #4 Saul Alvarez
Next Fight: Unknown
Angulo could probably use a fight with a gatekeeper or low level fringe contender just to get his career momentum going.
12) Sergey Rabchenko (9-104)
Last Fight: 11/16/2013- UD12 Bradley Pryce (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Rabchenko’s fight in Rome was cancelled on 3 days’ notice due to Visa issues, and his would-be opponent, journeyman Emanuele Della Rosa, will be fighting undefeated prospect Isaac Real for what had been Rabchenko’s European title.
13) Jermell Charlo (3-53)
Last Fight: 5/24/2014- UD12 Charlie Ota (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
14) Demetrius Andrade (3-31)
Last Fight: 11/9/2013- W* (SD12) vs. #13 Vanes Martirosyan
Next Fight: 6/14/2014- vs. Brian Rose (UNR)
Andrade and Rose have agreed to fight in the US, with a date of June 14.
15) Vanes Martirosyan (1-158)
Last Fight: 3/21/2014- UD10 Mario Lozano (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Vanes was supposed to fight on the Stiverne-Arreola card from what I understood, but that fight quietly disappeared from the schedule at some unknown point in time.  He’s been dropped by Top Rank and signed with Dan Goossen, as well.
16) Brian Castaño (1-1)
Last Fight: 6/6/2014- TKO4 #15 Cesar Sastre Silva
Next Fight: Unknown
Castano looked like kind of a beast against Sastre Silva.  Only time will tell if he really is a beast, was beating up on an overrated fringe contender, or some combination of those possibilities.
17) Gabriel Rosado (4-20)
Last Fight: 1/25/2014- L (UD10) vs. #18 Jermell Charlo
Next Fight: Unknown
Rosado was offered to Ishe Smith as a May 2 replacement, but Smith turned him down.  In turn, Rosado is being challenged by Hassan N’Dam.
18) Zaurbek Baysangurov (4-9)
Last Fight: 4/12/2014- TKO12 #20 Guido Pitto
Next Fight: Unknown
Baysangurov looked the best I’ve seen him, by far, against Pitto.
19) Willie Nelson (4-67)
Last Fight: 6/7/2014- TKO1 Darryl Cunningham (UNR) (at MW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Nelson just signed with manager Cameron Dunkin, but will need to get a potentially light middleweight fight scheduled by the end of June to maintain his ranking.
20) Brian Rose (4-4)
Last Fight: 10/26/2014- Robbery SD12 W (Draw at best) vs. Javier Maciel (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/14/2014- vs. #14 Demetrius Andrade
See Andrade’s notes, above.

 

The Week Ahead: 
Saturday
Glen Tapia vs. Keenan Collins; Atlantic City, NJ; Unimas (US)
This is nothing but a hometown tune-up for Tapia, who comes off a brutal loss to James Kirkland back in December.  Collins is a lower-mid-level journeyman originally from Brooklyn.  He comes off a stoppage loss to Daniel Jacobs and over a year of inactivity.

 

#14 Demetrius Andrade vs. #20 Brian Rose; Brooklyn, New York; HBO (US)
As I see it, this is nowhere near as good a matchup as it appears to be on paper.  Andrade is clearly a world-class prospect on his way to at least near the top.  For his part, Rose has at times needed very generous judging in the UK to scrape by with decision wins over the likes of everyone from domestic-level journeymen like Kris Carslaw and Sam Webb to Javier Maciel, who you’d have to call an inconsistent fringe contender or gatekeeper at the moment.  I’m not willing to call a stoppage since Andrade isn’t necessarily that type of fighter, but I don’t see Rose as having much chance to be competitive.
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