Heavyweight: 2014, Dec 15-21

In what has to be considered an upset, 46 year old Antonio Tarver easily handled whatever is left of the briefly relevant Johnathon Banks.  To Tarver’s credit, he chose his shots well and set them up nicely, and it was the best he looked since he was campaigning at light heavyweight.  On the other hand, Banks put forth a pathetic joke of a performance.  He only threw about 2 punches the whole fight that had any sort of intent behind them, and was dropped by Tarver before the fight was stopped on the ropes in the 7th.  


Unbeaten prospect Gerald Washington needed less than half a round to knock out journeyman Mike Sheppard, a Tarver knockout victim from 2013.  Sheppard was down twice in the 86 seconds the fight lasted.


Meanwhile, fellow undefeated American prospect Dominic Breazeale took *gasp* over a full minute longer to get rid of his own journeyman opponent, Epifanio Mendoza of Colombia.  This can be attributed to the fact that Mendoza is a generally competent operator in the ring, having spent some time in the top 50 at 175 and below.  He’s just a lot smaller, and thus similarly had no chance.  Like the bigger and less skilled Sheppard, though, Mendoza fell twice in the short fight.


Earlier that day in Moscow, 38 year old one loss…prospect…Alexander Ustinov kinda wasted a significant portion of what little time might be left for him to make a move in the division by fighting morbidly obese journeyman Chauncy Welliver.  The only video I could find of it was edited significantly, but even if I assume Welliver did well in the parts that were cut out, it’s hard to imagine he won a round.  But an 8-round decision over a guy like Welliver is no great accomplishment, especially for a guy looking to presumably make one last push toward a title.  As for his performance, I guess it might be about as expected.  He’s obviously very big- enough so to keep his opponent domesticated and timid- but his hands are slow and his technique robotic enough to prevent him from putting together combinations to any effect, or even generating the concussive power necessary to stop a relatively durable guy like Welliver.  I can’t say I was overly impressed.


6’7″ Polish steroid cheat Mariusz Wach is evidently looking to make up for lost time after his suspension and accompanying 2 year layoff, as he stepped into the ring for the second time since October, this time scoring a stoppage in 6 over faded former gatekeeper Travis Walker, who has now lost 6 in a row.  


Tarver makes his debut in the heavyweight rankings at #16.  Banks would have been ranked around #20 at the time of the fight if not ineligible for inactivity, but the loss prevents him from returning to the list.  Unfortunately for the division, he’s probably still in the top 25, though.  At 46, it may be that Tarver is the oldest fighter to ever make his debut in the top 20 of a given division.  I don’t have data to back that up, though.  Alex Leapai is bumped from the rankings after 55 consecutive weeks, and everyone else ranked #16 and below drops a slot.


Dan’s Top 20 (Weeks in current position-weeks in top 10 (if applicable)-weeks in top 20)
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko (286-499-499)
Last Fight: 11/15/2014- KO5 #5 Kubrat Pulev
Next Fight: Unknown
Klitschko plans to make his next defense on April 25.  Bryant Jennings appears likely.  That sounds undeserved, until you hear the other name that was being mentioned- Shannon Briggs.  Fury now has a mandatory position at some point, as well.
1) Tyson Fury (44-44-44)
Last Fight: 11/29/2014- RTD10 #6 Dereck Chisora
Next Fight: Unknown
Fury’s win over Chisora was stunningly easy.  Frankly he dominated by a lot more than did Vitali Klitschko when he met Chisora, and so the now eventually mandatory match-up with Wlad is looking more and more intriguing.  Anthony Joshua is also being discussed, though Fury himself seems to strongly prefer the former.
2) Alexander Povetkin (29-373-373)
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.  His team seems to want Tyson Fury, though, which would be amazing.
3) Vyacheslav Glazkov (29-40-104)
Last Fight: 11/8/2014- TKO7 Darnell Wilson (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/14/2015- vs. #9 Steve Cunningham
With Main Events behind both fighters, you could almost see this one coming.  Glazkov will take on Steve Cunningham, likely on NBC Sports, in March.
4) Amir Mansour (37-37-37)
Last Fight: 11/8/2014- KO7 Fred Kassi (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Mansour’s power was brought to bear on the mediocre Kassi, who did a good job of hanging in there- perhaps for longer than most expected while losing every round.
5) Kubrat Pulev (44-137-214)
Last Fight: 11/15/2014- L (KO5) vs. Champ Wladimir Klitschko
Next Fight: Unknown
Back to the drawing board for the Bulgarian.  He at least mounted an attack.  That’s more than some challengers can say.
6) Carlos Takam (3-28-48)
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.
7) Dereck Chisora (3-159-222)
Last Fight: 11/29/2014- L (RTD10) vs. #1 Tyson Fury
Next Fight: Unknown
Chisora apparently doesn’t want to leave the bad taste in his mouth from his last performance, as he is reportedly planning to fight again on February 28.  He is also said to be splitting from trainer Don Charles.
8) Bermane Stiverne (28-32-94)
Last Fight: 5/10/2014- TKO6 #13 Chris Arreola
Next Fight: 1/17/2015- vs. #12 Deontay Wilder
Stiverne-Wilder is finally set for January 17 at the MGM Grand in Vegas, it would appear.
9) Steve Cunningham (28-104-104)
Last Fight: 10/18/2014- W (RTD7) vs. Natu Visinia (UNR)
Next Fight: 3/14/2015- vs. #3 Vyacheslav Glazkov
See Glazkov’s notes, above.
10) Tony Thompson (28-39-238)
Last Fight: 6/6/2014- L (UD12) vs. #12 Carlos Takam
Next Fight: 1/24/2015 – vs. #11 Odlanier Solis
Maybe the third time will be the charm.  Thompson-Solis II gets its 3rd intended date on January 24.
11) Odlanier Solis (6-238)
Last Fight: 3/22/2014- L* (SD12) vs. #13 Tony Thompson
Next Fight: Unknown
See Thompson’s notes, above.
12) Deontay Wilder (6-86)
Last Fight: 8/16/2014- W(RTD4) vs. Jason Gavern (UNR)
Next Fight: 1/17/2015 – vs. #8 Bermane Stiverne 
See Stiverne’s notes, above.
13) Chris Arreola (6-67)
Last Fight: 5/10/2014- L (TKO6) vs. #12 Bermane Stiverne
Next Fight: Unknown
Bad news for Arreola fans- he’s reportedly pulled out of a planned December 11 return due to an elbow injury.  Elbow surgery is what he was trying to come back from in the first place.
14) Malik Scott (6-15)
Last Fight: 10/31/2014- UD10 #16 Alex Leapai
Next Fight: Unknown
After an apparently dominant win over Leapai, Scott is probably back in the mix for some sort of big fight.
15) Erkan Teper (6-68)
Last Fight: 6/13/2014- RTD6 Newfel Ouatah (UNR)
Next Fight:Unknown
16) Antonio Tarver (1-1)
Last Fight: 12/11/2014- TKO7 Johnathon Banks (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
I doubted Tarver’s ability to succeed at heavyweight, let alone at his age.  So far, so good, though.  It will be interesting to see how he shows against someone psychologically capable of throwing a punch now and then.
17) Andy Ruiz (1-56)
Last Fight: 10/25/2014- TKO1 Kenny Lemos (UNR)
Next Fight: 12/20/2014- vs. Sergei Liakhovich (UNR)
Ruiz has rescheduled his planned October fight with faded former contender Liakhovich for December 20.
18) Bryant Jennings (1-21)
Last Fight: 7/26/2014- W* (SD12) vs. Mike Perez (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Jennings is once again said to be in the running for a Klitschko shot.  After barely and perhaps undeservedly getting by Mike Perez, I’m not sure that’s a natural fit at this stage.
19) Artur Szpilka (1-6)
Last Fight: 11/8/2014- W (UD10) vs. #11 Tomasz Adamek
Next Fight: 1/31/2015- vs. Unknown Opponent
Szpilka returned to camp just a week after the Adamek fight, as he is planning a return for January 31 in Torun, Poland.
20) Mike Perez (1-21)
Last Fight: 7/26/2014- L* (SD12) vs. Bryant Jennings (UNR)
Next Fight: Unknown
Perez is reportedly working with famed trainer Robert Garcia.
Kyotaro Fujimoto vs. Daniel Radeff; Tokyo, Japan; TV Unknown
Fujimoto is a borderline top 50 fighter, but pretty clearly the best heavyweight in Japan for what that’s worth.  His key accomplishment was outpointing pumped up, light hitting middleweight Nobuhiro Ishida in April.  Before that, he took a TKO loss in 2012 to fairly mediocre Kiwi slugger Solomon Haumono.  Opponent Radeff, to be perfectly blunt, is a French nobody.  Not only does he sport a 5-8-2 record, but he’s also a small cruiserweight in reality.  Fujimoto is probably not a world beater by any stretch, but Radeff’s only practical hope in this one is if the Japanese fighter breaks his leg tripping over his fallen opponent.


#17 Andy Ruiz vs. Sergei Liakhovich; Phoenix, Arizona; Unimas (US) 
Ruiz will finally, I assume, get around to his long anticipated (for lack of a better term) fight with shopworn former contender Liakhovich.  It was delayed from an original date in September for a family issue.  Liakhovich is a sight better than Ruiz’s lone opponent in the interim, Kenny Lemos, but he’s a shell of his former self, to be sure, and I’m not sure he’ll last much longer than did the morbidly obese Lemos.

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