Heavyweight: 2014, Oct 27- Nov 2

Moscow played host to a significant card on Friday.  In the main event, #2 Alexander Povetkin clawed his way back from behind even on the local judges’ cards, and ultimately took the fight out of their hands with a highlight-reel 10th round knockout over #7 Carlos Takam, who had clearly showed up to win, himself.  Takam perhaps surprisingly was clearly outboxing Povetkin in the opening rounds of the fight.  I gave Takam 4 of the first 5 rounds, and all were pretty clear.  I’m not sure if Takam simply faded a little, or if Povetkin was holding back some in order to come on strong at the end, but the fight became razor-close in the middle rounds, as I gave Povetkin 6 and 8 and Takam 7, but any of those could have conceivably gone the other way.  In round 9, however, Povetkin began to dominate and break down Takam, culminating in a big-time knockdown in the closing seconds.  Takam looked to have recovered somewhat in the early stages of 10, but Povetkin again crushed him with a big shot.  Big enough, in fact, that Referee Kenny Bayless quite reasonably didn’t even start the count.  Povetkin’s power at world class level appeared to have gone dormant between about 2008 and 2012, possibly due to some intermittent hand problems, but he’s been on a knockout streak of late, as he’s stopped his opponent in each of his last 4 wins.  Granted, only Takam was a clearly world class fighter at the time, but this win alone is plenty impressive, despite the worrisome start.

 

On the undercard, Povetkin’s previous victim, Manuel Charr, got back on the winning track by stopping 6’7″ American former contender Michael Grant.  Grant did some good work in spurts early in the fight, effectively shooting the jab and landing with some very nice body shots.  But by the 4th round, his body language was all wrong.  He gave Charr free shots on the inside by either standing straight up or bending at the waist, all while turning his back somewhat and leaving his hands down.  He took so many sucker punches while inexplicably in this posture, that frankly he almost looked annoyed when Charr wasn’t able to put him away.  Ultimately he did the honors himself, retiring in his corner before the 6th round.

 

In a total mismatch on Saturday in Fresno, #17 Andy Ruiz managed to find an opponent as fat as himself, and made short work of him.  It took only about half of the first round for Ruiz to land a body shot to Kenny Lemos’ comically high trunks for a knockdown, and then only about another 30 seconds of slapping Lemos around on the ropes for the referee to show mercy and stop it, perhaps two or three punches too late.  In truth, anyone could have seen it coming in that Lemos didn’t belong in the ring with any decent fighter, much less a proven world class prospect like Ruiz.

 

It was a very close call whether or not to promote Povetkin to #2 ahead of Tyson Fury.  Once some of the more ordinary wins are cancelled out, it becomes largely a comparison between Fury’s win in 2013 over #3-ranked Steve Cunningham and Povetkin’s win over #7 Takam, plus the 2011 decision over Chagaev, then ranked #6.  For me, a #3 is generally going to trump a #6 and #7, but any remaining doubt is erased by Povetkin’s poor performance against Marco Huck- a narrow win that I’ve always viewed as a draw.  Along with his loss in his Championship shot against Klitschko, this fight reveals the potential for Povetkin to lose, and frankly I only had Marco Huck ranked #5 even at cruiserweight at the time.  As of now, we haven’t seen Fury lose or anything resembling a loss from him.  Given the comparable resumes overall, this keeps Fury at #2, if only by a hair.  Considering #8 Bermane Stiverne has never beaten anyone better than a #13-ranked Chris Arreola, a loss to the division’s #2 contender doesn’t appreciably hurt Takam’s ranking, either.  This, then, was an example of a big fight that really just verified the status quo.

 

Neither Ruiz nor Charr was in tough enough, in my estimation, to change their fortunes, either.  No changes.
 

Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (279-492-492)
Last Fight: 4/26/2014- TKO5 #16 Alex Leapai
Next Fight: 11/15/2014- vs. #5 Kubrat Pulev
The Pulev defense has now been rescheduled for November 15.
1) Tyson Fury (37-37-37)
Last Fight: 2/15/2014- TKO4 Joey Abell (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/29/2014- vs. #6 Dereck Chisora
Fury-Chisora II has been moved back a week, to November 29.
2) Alexander Povetkin (22-366-366)
Last Fight: 10/24/2014- KO10 #7 Carlos Takam
Next Fight: Unknown
Povetkin’s finishing skills were quite impressive, but it might be a bit worrisome that he was clearly getting outboxed by Takam for a good chunk of the fight.  With the win, he now figures to eventually become the mandatory for the winner of Wilder-Stiverne.
3) Vyacheslav Glazkov (22-33-97)
Last Fight: 8/9/2014- W(MD10) vs. Derric Rossy (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/8/2014- vs. Darnell Wilson (UNR)
Glazkov is a late addition to the Hopkins-Kovalev undercard, where he will fight Darnell Wilson, a journeyman who was able to upend a compromised version of Juan Carlos Gomez a couple years ago.
4) Amir Mansour (30-30-30)
Last Fight: 4/4/2014- Robbery L (UD10) vs. #4 Steve Cunningham
Next Fight: 11/8/2014 – vs. Fred Kassi (UNR)
Mansour gets a stay-busy type fight against the unknown Fred Kassi, who despite a relatively attractive 18-2 record, has lost to the likes of Lionel Butler and Kendrick Releford, and has only fought 3 times since April 2010.
5) Kubrat Pulev (37-130-207)
Last Fight: 4/5/2014- RTD3 Ivica Perkovic (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/15/2014- vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
See Klitschko’s notes, above.
6) Dereck Chisora (37-152-215)
Last Fight: 2/15/2014- UD12 Kevin Johnson (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/29/2014- vs. #1 Tyson Fury
See Fury’s notes, above.
7) Carlos Takam (21-21-41)
Last Fight: 10/24/2014- L (KO10) vs. #2 Alexander Povetkin
Next Fight: Unknown
Takam found the ceiling on his rise to the top in #2 Povetkin.  He actually appeared more than a match for the Russian early in the fight, but couldn’t hang in the later rounds.
8) Bermane Stiverne (21-25-87)
Last Fight: 5/10/2014- TKO6 #13 Chris Arreola
Next Fight: Unknown Date- vs. #13 Deontay Wilder
Stiverne-Wilder is finally signed.  Details haven’t been finalized, but it’s apparently looking like mid-January in either Vegas or New York.
9) Steve Cunningham (21-97-97)
Last Fight: 10/18/2014- W (RTD7) vs. Natu Visinia (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Despite some scary moments with the much bigger relative novice Visinia, Cunningham ultimately took care of business.
10) Tony Thompson (21-32-231)
Last Fight: 6/6/2014- L (UD12) vs. #12 Carlos Takam
Next Fight: 11/22/2014- vs. #12 Odlanier Solis
The Thompson-Solis rematch has been postponed due to a Solis ankle injury, with a new date of November 22.
11) Tomasz Adamek (21-236)
Last Fight: 3/15/2014- L (UD12) vs. #18 Vyacheslav Glazkov
Next Fight: 11/8/2014- vs. Artur Szpilka (UNR)
Originally penciled in for October 18 in Lodz, it now appears that Adamek-Szpilka is destined for November 8 in Krakow.
12) Odlanier Solis (21-231)
Last Fight: 3/22/2014- L* (SD12) vs. #13 Tony Thompson
Next Fight: 10/18/2014- vs. #10 Tony Thompson
See Thompson’s notes, above.
13) Deontay Wilder (25-79)
Last Fight: 8/16/2014- W(RTD4) vs. Jason Gavern (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown Date – vs. #8 Bermane Stiverne 
See Stiverne’s notes, above.
14) Chris Arreola (25-60)
Last Fight: 5/10/2014- L (TKO6) vs. #12 Bermane Stiverne
Next Fight: Unknown
Arreola had elbow surgery, and was said to be expected back in October.  No news about an upcoming fight, though.
15) Erkan Teper (30-61)
Last Fight: 6/13/2014- RTD6 Newfel Ouatah (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Teper is rumored to be close to signing for a fight with 36 year old one-loss Polish prospect(?) Marcin Rekowski in December.
16) Alex Leapai (30-49)
Last Fight: 4/26/2014- L (KO5) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: 10/31/2014- vs. #20 Malik Scott
Leapai-Scott has been moved back a week to Halloween after Leapai suffered a minor leg injury.
17) Andy Ruiz (30-49)
Last Fight: 10/25/2014- TKO1 Kenny Lemos (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/6/2014- vs. Unknown Opponent
After the cakewalk with Lemos, Ruiz expects to be back in the ring on December 6, perhaps in a rescheduled bout with Liakhovich.
18) Bryant Jennings (8-14)
Last Fight: 7/26/2014- W* (SD12) vs. Mike Perez (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Reasonable minds can disagree on the correct result of Jennings-Perez.  What’s clear, though, is that Jennings is not nearly ready for Klitschko, a fight some of his supporters have been proposing for a while now.  He himself appears to want the Wilder-Stiverne winner, which might be more within his competency.
19) Mike Perez (8-14)
Last Fight: 7/26/2014- L* (SD12) vs. Bryant Jennings (UNR)
Next Fight: 11/?/2014 – vs. Unknown Opponent
Perez, who calls Cork, Ireland home, will return to his home base in November when he headlines a card there.  Details TBD.
20) Malik Scott (8-8)

Last Fight: 3/15/2014- L (KO1) vs. #13 Deontay Wilder
Next Fight: 10/31/2014 – vs. #16 Alex Leapai
See Leapai’s notes, above.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD:
Friday
#16 Alex Leapai vs. #20 Malik Scott; Crestmead, Australia; TV Unknown
This is a good matchup that should answer a lot of questions.  Is Leapai somewhat for real as he looked against Boytsov, or somewhat hapless as he looked against Kevin Johnson and Klitschko?  Is Malik Scott an impressive boxer and overall fighter as he looked for at least most of his fight with now-highly-ranked Glazkov, or is he a quitter or worse as he looked while at least practically taking a dive in the first round against Wilder?  I sense the likelihood that one of these guys is going to emerge as (at least a fringe) contender with real credibility, and the other will be proven a pretender.

 

Christian Hammer vs. Irineu Beato Costa Junior; Cuxhaven, Germany; Eurosport
Hammer, who lost to the likes of Mariusz Wach and Taras Bidenko in 2010, rose to prominence last year by knocking out Leif Larsen, a top 50-level prospect.  His own status in the top 50 now hangs in the balance, though, after almost definitely deserving to lose to Kevin Johnson in their fight in December.  I’ve given up trying to figure out which excess names I can safely drop from Brazilian fighters, or even which I can use as their surname, so I’ll just say that Irineu Beato Costa Junior is probably just shy of a top 50 ranking, so this should be a good test for both.
 
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