Cruiserweight: 2014, Jun 23-29

In what very well may end up as the upset of the year, unheralded one-loss prospect Youri Kalenga shockingly dominated #12 Mateusz Masternak in Monte Carlo on Saturday.  Kalenga wasn’t a total unknown, and had even beat a couple top-50 fighters himself, but he was also saddled with an apparently dominating loss in September against Arturs Kulikauskis, who is best described as a travelling opponent.  It appeared for all the world that he might be more or less a Darnell Boone character- a journeyman who often rises to the occasion against good opposition, but can’t seem to break through by consistently winning all the fights he’s supposed to win.  He certainly didn’t strike much of anyone as a world-class performer, which was the general consensus about Masternak, whose only loss was to the very tough Grigory Drozd.  If you had told me that Kalenga was going to beat Masternak, I’d have expected that he caught him with a single shot, since Kalenga has always appeared to me to be a one-dimensional free-swinger with little or no boxing skill.  But it wasn’t that, either.  Kalenga just dominated Masternak from bell to bell.  There were maybe two rounds- the 7th and 12th- that Masternak may or may not have won, but he just plain got bullied in every other round.  He was always backing up, and looked simultaneously baffled and intimidated by Kalenga, who boxed more technically than I would have thought him capable, but still mixed in the big shot from left field just enough to keep Masternak cautious.  It was a good, honest effort by Kalenga, and frankly a total botch job by Masternak.

 

Speaking of botch jobs…remember how I said essentially that Masternak won maybe two rounds, if he was lucky?  Don’t tell that to the blind, pathetic judges.  I mean you don’t really get rounds more clear than the 10 of 12 that Kalenga dominated, unless we’re talking Calzaghe-Lacy style “holy crap how is he still standing there” beatings.  Juan Manuel Garcia Reyes, to his everlasting shame and infamy, scored the fight 115-113 for Masternak.  Raul Caiz, at 116-112 (for the right guy, at least), was still impossible to justify.  Pawel Kardyni, perhaps not incidentally from Poland, is probably viewed as something of a hero for scoring the fight against his countryman to break the tie and give the fight correctly to Kalenga.  Still, while he did score it for the right guy, I find it hard to see a guy as a paragon of virtue when he still gives his countryman both of the close rounds along with three of the other guy’s clear rounds.  This was, despite everything working out mostly alright in the end, one of the worst-judged fights I’ve ever seen.

 

Kalenga debuts at #14, held back from taking full advantage of his win over the #12 contender by his still relatively recent aforementioned loss to Kulikauskis.  Despite the comprehensive nature of the defeat, Masternak falls only to #15, due to the overall strength of his resume at large.  Janik and McKenzie move up a spot each to fill the void left by Masternak.  Everyone #15 and below last week drops a spot, including #20 Yunier Dorticos, who exits the rankings after 9 weeks in.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: None
1) Marco Huck (6-394-394)
Last Fight:1/25/2014- TKO6 #5 Firat Arslan
Next Fight: 8/30/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
Bild Zeitung in Germany reports that Huck will be back on August 30, with Nuri Seferi appearing the most likely candidate to be his opponent.
2) Yoan Pablo Hernandez (6-209-209)
Last Fight: 11/23/2013- TKO10 #12 Alexander Alekseev
Next Fight: 8/16/2014- vs. #6 Firat Arslan
Hernandez is set to fight Arslan on August 16, in Erfurt, Germany.  
3) Denis Lebedev (6-229-229)
Last Fight: 5/17/2013- L (TKO11) vs. Guillermo Jones (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Given his legitimate injury that shelved him for a big chunk of the year and the fact that his opponent screwed him over via PED use, I’m going to use my discretion and leave Lebedev ranked at this point.  Still, his best work is simply getting too old to stay at the very top.  Some reports have him returning in the fall against Pawel Kolodziej.
4) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (41-470-470)
Last Fight: 12/6/2013- TKO6 #9 Giacobbe Fragomeni
Next Fight: Unknown
It’s looking like Wlodarczyk will be back in August, possibly against BJ Flores.
5) Thabiso Mchunu (22-47-85)
Last Fight: 1/24/2014- UD10 Olanrewaju Durodola (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mchunu’s scheduled fight with Brazilian prospect was scrapped on just a day’s notice due to the surprise withdrawal of the card’s sponsors.
6) Firat Arslan (22-111-154)
Last Fight: 6/7/2014- UD8 Tamas Bajzath (UNR)
Next Fight: 8/16/2014- vs. #2 Yoan Pablo Hernandez
See Hernandez’s notes, above.
7) Grigory Drozd (31-38-85)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- KO1 Jeremy Ouanna (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
See Wlodarczyk’s notes, above.
8) Rakhim Chakhkiev (4-4-4)
Last Fight: 5/30/2014- UD12 #11 Santander Silgado
Next Fight: Unknown
Chakhkiev has finally cashed in a high-level win to go with his hype and promise.  Most likely another title shot is not far off.
9) Ola Afolabi (4-276-276)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- W* (MD12) vs. Lukasz Janik (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/26/2014- vs. Pawel Kolodziej (UNR)
After we got no news on the fight for months, Afolabi-Kolodziej is now scheduled for the Golovkin-Geale undercard on July 26.
10) Giacobbe Fragomeni (4-41-293)
Last Fight: 4/26/2014- vs. Olegs Lopajevs (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The fight with Lopajevs was purely a stay-busy contest, but he’s talking about another title shot even at 44 years old.
11) Ilunga Makabu (4-50)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- TKO2 Ruben Angel Mino (UNR)
Next Fight: 6/28/2014- vs. Glen Johnson (UNR)
Initially sketchy reports of a June 28 fight with Glen Johnson appear true.
12) Lukasz Janik (1-34)
Last Fight: 11/2/2013- L* (MD12) vs. #7 Ola Afolabi
Next Fight: 6/28/2014- vs. Rico Hoye (UNR)
Janik will dredge up a name from the past when he fights Rico Hoye on June 28.
13) Ovill McKenzie (1-11)
Last Fight: 6/7/2014- TKO2 Jon-Lewis Dickinson (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
After blowing out the British Champion, McKenzie has his sites set on a European or perhaps World belt.  He wants to fight Marco Huck most of all.
14) Youri Kalenga (1-1)
Last Fight: 6/21/2014- W (SD12*) vs. #12 Mateusz Masternak
Next Fight: Unknown
How a guy can get dominated by Arturs Kulikauskis, only to come back and dominate Mateusz Masternak within about 9 months, is beyond me.  Still, the former fight aside, he’s got another pretty nice win on his resume right before that, over Iago Kiladze, a then-undefeated prospect.
15) Mateusz Masternak (1-117)
Last Fight: 6/21/2014- L (SD12*) vs. Youri Kalenga (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Having now lost to his last two decent opponents, the future of Masternak, who looked like a can’t-miss talent not long ago, seems very much in doubt.
16) Santander Silgado (1-34)
Last Fight: 5/30/2014- L (UD12) vs. Rakhim Chakhkiev (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I don’t want to say Silgado made it easy for Chakhkiev, because it looked relatively difficult, but he sure didn’t help himself by taking a fight with a fringe contending Olympic Gold Medalist on 2 weeks’ notice.
17) Danie Venter (1-41)
Last Fight: 9/21/2013- KO1 Shawn Cox (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Venter’s June 6 fight was cancelled a day in advance due to a withdrawal of the card’s sponsors.
18) Dmytro Kucher (1-104)
Last Fight: 7/13/2013- L (MD12) vs. Ilunga Makabu (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
The inactive Kucher may now be in danger of losing his ranking in the next couple months, as his stay-busy fight in late May did not come off.
19) Nuri Seferi (1-27)
Last Fight: 5/16/2014- UD12 Tamas Lodi (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I took Seferi’s stated desire to fight Marco Huck as idle chatter, but that fight now looks likely for August 30, deserved or not.
20) Gusmyr Perdomo (1-11)
Last Fight: 4/11/2014- Robbery Loss (should be draw) vs. #15 Nuri Seferi
Next Fight: Unknown
Perdomo deserved at least a draw against Seferi, but the judges summoned just enough coincidental incompetence to take it from him.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: 
Wednesday
Murat Gassiev vs. Daniil Peretyatko; Unknown Location; TV Unknown
This fight is an oddity, as Boxrec doesn’t list a location for this fight.  Both fighters are from Russia, so that country would tend to be likely.  Peretyatko is a low-level journeyman who is probably a little better than his 17-32 record, but that’s not saying much.  Gassiev is an undefeated prospect.  I’ve seen him once, and I’m almost certain the fight was fixed.

 

Thursday
Jean-Marc Mormeck vs. Tamas Lodi; Asnieres-sur-Seine, France; L’Equipe 21 (France)
Mormeck is the former Champion, but hasn’t fought at cruiser since losing his Championship to David Haye in 2007.  He hasn’t fought anyone at all since his awful performance against Wladimir Klitschko for the Heavyweight Championship well over 2 years ago.  Lodi is a Hungarian journeyman.  With only two losses, you could almost call him a prospect, but he’s lost pretty comprehensively to the only two fighters of any pedigree that he’s ever been in with- Ilunga Makabu in 2013 and Nuri Seferi last month.  That being the case, I think his prospects as a prospect, as it were, would tend to top out around the fringes of the top 50.  We’ve seen stranger things than long-inactive and aging former cruiserweight champions getting shockingly upset in comeback fights (see O’Neil Bell for a recent example), but he’d have to have regressed a fair amount for Lodi to have a serious chance, I would think.

 

Friday
B.J. Flores vs. Anthony Caputo Smith; Las Vegas, Nevada; Off TV
Flores hasn’t fought anyone of any note in at least nearly three years while he suffered through promotional woes and focused on his TV gig with NBC.  He’s at least a credible fringe contender when he’s active, though.  Like Lodi above, Caputo Smith is a two-loss fighter who is no longer a legitimate prospect, having lost to the estimable Sean Monaghan, but also to midwestern journeyman Kevn Engel, both by early stoppage.  If Flores makes 200, he’ll likely be ranked again next week just due to his returning to activity within the division.  The fight is on the ShoBox card, but will not make the broadcast.

 

Saturday
#11 Ilunga Makabu vs. Glen Johnson; Kinshasa, Congo; TV Unknown
I’ve thought this for a few fights now, but this might be the end of the line for the Road Warrior, who is a heck of a guy, but at this point has faded more than Roy Jones.  Makabu might as well be undefeated, having been stopped in his first fight more than 5 years ago with no subsequent setbacks.  More importantly, he’s looked formidable in his two true tests- back-t0-back 2013 wins against Dmytro Kucher and Eric Fields.  Throw in the fact that the 45 year-old Johnson was competing at 168 fairly recently, and there’s really not much going for the Jamaican native, other than experience, of course.  True to form, this will be in Makabu’s homeland.  By the way, is it hard for anyone else to say “Kinshasa” without following it up with “Zaire?”  The Rumble in the Jungle and the times it evokes define that city, for me.

 

Krzysztof Glowacki vs. Ismail Abdoul; Rzeszow, Poland; PolSat Sport (Poland)
Glowacki is an impressive and hard-hitting Polish prospect who is sometimes ranked here.  Abdoul is 37 and has seen better days.  He does come off three consecutive wins over generic competition, but is not really the serious gatekeeper he was at one point.  Still, he hasn’t been stopped since Wlodarczyk got him in the the very last round in 2002, so that will be a challenge for Glowacki, if nothing else.

 

#12 Lukasz Janik vs. Rico Hoye; Rzeszow, Poland; PolSat Sport (Poland)
Janik really ought to have a top ten ranking, since he pretty clearly beat Ola Afolabi, who was ranked #7 at the time.  Unfortunately, he was borderline robbed, and so he’s left fighting has-beens like Hoye.  Hoye, a 39 year-old from Detroit, was a contender back around 2004, and a top 50 fighter as recently as 2009, but he’s fought just one low-level opponent since then.  Janik should have too much for him, assuming his performance against Afolabi was not a huge fluke.
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