Roy Jones Jr. climbs back into the Bad Left Hook top 10 at 175 pounds following an impressive beating of Jeff Lacy in August. (AP Photo)
Bad Left Hook Light Heavyweight Rankings
|1||Bernard Hopkins||49-5-1 (32)|
|2||Chad Dawson||28-0 (17)|
|3||Glen Johnson||49-12-2 (33)|
|4||Jean Pascal||23-1 (15)|
|5||Zsolt Erdei||30-0 (17)|
|6||Tavoris Cloud||20-0 (18)|
|7||Adrian Diaconu||26-1 (15)|
|8||Roy Jones Jr.||54-5 (40)|
|9||Antonio Tarver||27-6 (19)|
|10||Gabriel Campillo||19-2 (6)|
Light heavyweight is one of boxing's "real" divisions, one of the originals with the long, long history and great stars of yesterday. In the last few years the division has skewed really old, led by Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson and Roy Jones Jr.
But it's getting younger.
Bernard Hopkins stays at No. 1 for me, because he's earned it. Bernard's really only fought twice at the 175-pound limit, against Antonio Tarver and Joe Calzaghe, and he's just 1-1 in those fights. But his two 170-pound catchweight wins over Winky Wright and Kelly Pavlik were both quite impressive, and technically were light heavyweight fights. I think Bernard has some bad style matchups potentially, but you can also never count out a guy like B-Hop, as we've learned countless times. He's rugged, he's tougher than hell, and he's exceptionally intelligent in the ring. I think a superior athlete (Dawson, Pascal even, and maybe still Ol' Roy) might be able to show Hopkins for the 44-year old man he is, but note that I said "might."
It was Chad Dawson that started the youth movement when he dominated Tomasz Adamek and chased him out of the division in 2007. Last year and this year, he's fought some of the older guys and managed to not fight either Tavoris Cloud or Adrian Diaconu. Dawson's two wins over Antonio Tarver showed us an aged, way-too-slow Tarver whose left hand couldn't find Dawson with a map.
The guy that did test him -- and in some fans' minds, deserve to beat him -- was Glen Johnson, and they'll hook up again in November on HBO. Dawson-Johnson II is a pretty intriguing fight, and way more deserving of a rematch than Dawson-Tarver, a matchup that on two occasions failed to draw a fly to a pile of dung. If Dawson can win convincingly, he's really, really got an argument that he should be regarded as the No. 1 here, not Hopkins. But what if Glen wins? It's hardly unthinkable.
I flipped the spots of Jean Pascal and Zsolt Erdei from my June LHW rankings. Pascal's last two fights have been excellent and against good, tough fighters. Erdei has skills, but is perfectly content to take weak challenge after weak challenge. It's really hard for me to figure what Erdei could do against some of the top guys of his time, because him fighting any of them is about as likely as him fighting Mike Tyson.
Tavoris Cloud bursts into the top ten coming off of a dominant win over veteran Clinton Woods. That Cloud couldn't knock Woods out or even down is no shame; Clinton has taken some nasty shots in his career, and the only time he didn't make the distance in a loss came against the prime Roy Jones Jr., who beat him so horribly it looked like Roy wanted to stop punching, and Woods' corner threw in the towel. Cloud's still rough around the edges, but he fights with ferocity and at times showed a great ability to attack, especially to the body. He did get caught up headhunting in the middle rounds, and his height might someday be an issue for him, but he's on the rise.
Adrian Diaconu keeps his spot at No. 7.
Aaaaand, welcome back to my LHW top 10, Roy Jones Jr., it's been a little while. Most everyone that maintains rankings never had Roy out of the top 10 at 175, but he looked really shoddy for a while there. The win over Jeff Lacy was nothing magnificent because Lacy is absolutely shot and you can really make a good argument that he should have lost his last seven fights instead of going 4-3 int hose bouts, but Roy was sharp, in great shape, and had a different sort of pep in his step. He overwhelmed Lacy with his athleticism and speed, which again, isn't a big deal (Lacy is slow of foot and hand and his reflexes are awful), but there was a little bit of vintage Roy actually in that performance.
Antonio Tarver stays at No. 9. There is nobody better and even slowed way down, he's an awkward guy, still really good defensively, and probably gives guys like Cloud and Pascal a bad time, even if he were to lose.
Gabriel Campillo upset Hugo Garay in June, then came right back in August and beat fast-rising prospect Beibut Shumenov by decision on Shumenov's turf. Campillo is quickly building a reputation of a slow starter that finishes really well, and also of a man much better than his record might indicate. His losses came against Karo Murat and Vyacheslav Uzelkov, who are both still unbeaten.
Close Calls: Chris Henry beat Shaun George out of contention, but also lost to Yusaf Mack earlier this year ... If that was the end for Clinton Woods, I say happy trails. He's one of those guys that got further than his natural talent should have taken them. That usually comes from will and desire, and he had plenty of both ... Nathan Cleverly may soon become a real force ... Juergen Braehmer has rattled off three straight stoppage wins since a decision loss to Hugo Garay ... OK, so Beibut Shumenov came up short when trying to win a recognized major title in his ninth pro bout. He's still got a lot of talent and should be a factor for a long time ... 43-year old Italian Silvio Branco will get a shot at Jean Pascal on September 25.