Middleweight: 2014, Jun 23-29

#7 Martin Murray got a solid win on Saturday in Monte Carlo over #15 Max Bursak.  Murray employed a markedly different strategy early than I was used to seeing at his best, and I’m not sure it served him well early.  Instead of walking forward and looking for openings in tank-like fashion behind a passive but tight high guard the way he did against Martinez, for example, he looked to be much lighter on his feet in this fight.  This led, in my opinion, to the first 4 rounds all being fairly close, though I did have Murray ahead 39-37 at that point, as he did at least manage to be first with his punches more often than not, and clearly had the better power and skills even while Bursak was able to put him in awkward positions with some frequency.  From the 5th on, though, it was all Murray, as perhaps his solid body attack began to pay dividends and he began holding his ground with more frequency.  I had it 119-109 for the Brit, with 2 of the 3 judges seeing it the same way.  

 

Murray receives a modest rankings boost just from proving that he’s most likely still world class, and not likely the same fighter that probably should have taken a loss against journeyman Khomitsky in December.  This is enough to get him by Quillin, who obviously can’t boast a performance anywhere near as impressive as the should-be victory over then-Champion Martinez (or the should-be victory over #3 Sturm, for that matter), and who never seems to beat good fighters by more than the skin of his teeth (give or take some bad judging).  Geale is able to hold him off in a fairly close call, though, since he at least has a win over a #3 contender in Sebastian Sylvester. on his resume.  While he did lose in an upset to Darren Barker last year, this is frankly more excusable than Murray’s performance against Khomitsky, and Geale’s resume is also significantly longer in terms of good wins.

 

Bursak stays put at #15, since his loss to a #7 contender says absolutely nothing about whether or not he’s better than #16 Lemieux, who has losses to a non-top-20 fringe contender in Alcine and a #11 Contender in Rubio, and who has never beaten anyone better than borderline top 25 level, and that’s if you generously credit Jose Miguel Torres with that kind of status as I grudgingly have.

 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in Current Position-Weeks in Top 10 if applicable-Weeks in Top 20)
Champ: Miguel Cotto (3-3-3)
Last Fight: RTD10 Champ Sergio Martinez
Next Fight: Unknown
Cotto is the Champion.  The only question now is whether he will risk that Championship against the dominant #1 contender against whom he probably would have very little chance.  His thoughts seem to be more in the direction of Canelo.
1) Gennady Golovkin (28-95-158)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- TKO7 Osumanu Adama (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/26/2014- vs. #5 Daniel Geale
Golovkin-Geale is official for July 26 in New York.
2) Sam Soliman (4-28-28)
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. His trainer wants Cotto, but Martin Murray looks more likely.
3) Sergio Martinez (3-219-219)
Last Fight: 6/7/2014- L (RTD10) vs. #8 JMW Miguel Cotto
Next Fight: Unknown
When assessing Maravilla’s viability as a contender at this point, it really comes down to one question: is his base athletic level and chin as bad as his performance against Cotto, or can it be blamed on a knee or other sort of leg injury?  If the latter, he might stand some chance to come back given enough recuperation time.  If the former, then he’s one of the most obviously finished fighters I’ve ever seen.  His manager ominously said after the fight that his only injury was a broken nose.  That’s incredible, if true, considering how bad his legs looked.  A big soccer fan, he says he’ll determine his future after the World Cup.
4) Felix Sturm (3-562-562)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- L (UD12) vs. #8 Sam Soliman
Next Fight: Unknown
Sturm passed on an eliminator with Curtis Stevens, right after David Lemieux passed on an eliminator with Sturm.  Apparently nobody wants the IBF title.
5) Daniel Geale (3-262-262)
Last Fight: 2/19/2014- RTD6 Garth Wood (UNR)
Next Fight: 7/26/2014- vs. #1 Gennady Golovkin
See Golovkin’s notes, above.
6) Martin Murray (1-134-134)
Last Fight: 6/21/2014- UD12 #15 Max Bursak
Next Fight: Unknown
Finally another solid performance from Murray, who had been apparently hanging over from his robbery loss to Martinez.  He is now in line for a shot at Soliman’s belt, and also is in the running to fight Golovkin, it seems.

7) Peter Quillin (1-88-109)

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.
8) Matthew Macklin (3-157-248)
Last Fight: 12/7/2013- UD10 Lamar Russ (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Macklin is reportedly hoping for an eliminator or some sort in Dublin soon, but there’s nothing much more specific than that to report.
9) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (3-28-28)
Last Fight: 4/16/2014- UD10 Fulgencio Zuniga (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
With the first 3 of the first 4 guys offered the shot having turned it down already, the 4th- Curtis Stevens- is now in talks for an IBF eliminator with N’Dam.  The winner would earn a shot at Soliman’s belt.
10) Sergio Mora (3-52-52)
Last Fight: 5/31/2014- TKO5 Samuel Rogers (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mora wants Quillin or Golovkin.
11) Osumanu Adama (3-21)
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.
12) Dmitry Chudinov (3-13)
Last Fight: 6/1/2014- UD12 Patrick Nielsen (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Chudinov’s promoter has verbally offered Sam Soliman a fight on August 8.
13) Marco Antonio Rubio (3-178)
Last Fight: 4/5/2014- KO10* Domenico Spada (UNR)
Next Fight:Unknown
Rubio wants a shot at Cotto.
14) Jarrod Fletcher (3-21)
Last Fight: 2/1/2014- W* (UD12) vs. #12 Max Bursak
Next Fight: 8/9/2014- vs. Daniel Jacobs (UNR)
Fletcher will fight fringe contender Daniel Jacobs on August 9 for a trumped up (aka WBA) title.
15) Max Bursak (3-178)
Last Fight: 6/21/2014- L (UD12) vs. #7 Martin Murray
Next Fight: Unknown
Monte Carlo isn’t kind to Bursak.  He lost a debatable decision to Jarrod Fletcher there, and then was more or less dominated by Martin Murray.
16) David Lemieux (3-5)
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.  In the meantime, he’s reportedly turned down an eliminator with Sturm.
17) Grzegorz Proksa (3-167)
Last Fight: 6/28/2013- L (UD10) vs. Sergio Mora (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Proksa has just a week to schedule a fight before he’s removed for inactivity.
18) Caleb Truax (3-40)
Last Fight: 1/3/2014- Draw (UD10) vs. Ossie Duran (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: 7/25/2014- vs. Rogelio Medina (UNR)
Truax fights the very serviceable Porky Medina, who comes off a split decision loss to to Jonathan Gonzalez that could have gone the other way.  He’s on a similar level to Duran, who gave Truax all he could handle.
19) Curtis Stevens (3-47)
Last Fight: 4/4/2014- TKO10* Tureano Johnson (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Stevens will likely fight N’Dam for a shot at Soliman’s alphabet belt.
20) Andrey Meryasev (3-33)
Last Fight: 4/26/2014- UD10 Carlos Baldomir (UNR) (at SMW)
Next Fight: Unknown
Meryasev dominated in pedestrian fashion against the now-retired Baldomir.

 

The Week Ahead: 
Saturday
Mark Heffron vs. Vigilijus Stapulionis; Rzeszow, Poland; TV Unknown
Heffron is an impressive 23 year-old prospect from Lancashire, England, who burst on the scene in just his 9th pro fight in February by winning a comfortable points decision over Argentine gatekeeper Mateo Veron.  Stapulionis is a solid journeyman from Lithuania.  If the Veron win was in any way a fluke, he’s good enough to at least challenge the young Brit.  If not, Heffron should handle him with relative ease.

 

Matt Korobov vs. Jose Uzcategui; Omaha, Nebraska; HBO (US)
Korobov is a longstanding top prospect whose stock had been sinking at one point due to some underwhelming wins over so-so opposition.  A knockout of the very credible Ossie Duran a year ago put him back on the right track, but in Uzcategui he faces a fresh undefeated guy who probably has a lot more to offer at this stage than did Duran.  Uzcategui is a native of Colombia who has never fought outside his adopted home of Mexico.  He has very long arms, but probably needs to learn to control range better.  He’s rather predictable and easy to hit, or so it appears to my relatively untrained eyes.  Still, he comes off a knockout win over what I believe to have been a used-up version of David Lopez back in March.  If you twist my arm for a prediction, I’ll say that Korobov’s sturdier approach and more technically-sound skill set is likely to allow the Russian to prevail, and perhaps by knockout.  Whomever wins, my guess is that he’ll claim a ranking next week.
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