With one monster left hook that put Allan Green flat on his back and turned off the lights in Copenhagen, former super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler made a statement and announced his arrival in the light heavyweight division -- even if the weight wasn't exactly a sure sign that he's all-in at 175.
Weighing 169 pounds on the scales for what was said after to be a 172-pound catchweight bout, Kessler improved to 45-2 with his 34th knockout win in front of his home fans in Denmark. It's certainly not inconceivable that for the right fight, Kessler will just go back to 168 and this feet-wetter at 175 will amount to little in the long run. But he skipped out on a fight that could have netted him a world title at 168 to do this, so it would probably have to be something really big and really well-paying.
Kessler, 33, comes into our rankings at No. 6 this week, jumping titleholders like Nathan Cleverly and Beibut Shumenov, and trailing only the guys who have been proving their worth in the division for a while: Dawson, Campillo, Hopkins, Pascal, and Cloud.
Really, I'd give Kessler a solid shot at beating anyone in the division -- I would pick Dawson and Campillo to beat him (well, I'd pick Campillo to get robbed against him), but he's still a very good fighter. A win over Allan Green isn't exactly an elite-level win, but then neither is anything that Cleverly or Shumenov have done so far. I'd pick Kessler over either of them without a second thought.
Falling out is unbeaten Hungarian Zsolt Erdei, who hasn't fought since June 4 of last year and was just placeholding at this point. If he schedules a fight before his year is up, I'll put him back in at No. 10. But that doesn't appear likely right now.
With Kessler, No. 3 last week, out of the rankings, it moves everyone up a notch and creates an opening for a new entrant at the 10th spot.
I weighed a few guys, and went with British champion George Groves. The other top candidates were Brian Magee, Karoly Balzsay, James DeGale, and Anthony Dirrell. Given no consideration was former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who still has a ton to prove at 168, and has yet to prove anything over 160. I simply cannot understand the rationale behind ranking Pavlik in the top ten at this point. His wins in the division are over Alfonso Lopez, who has since been horrible, and Aaron Jaco, which was a pure mismatch. His next fight, on June 8 against Scott Sigmon, isn't going to tell us anything either. That's not even really a Pavlik criticism -- right now it's not about him proving anything on the higher levels. It's about getting his act together for another run. They're doing the right thing, but no, Pavlik is not currently a contender.
Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr comes in at No. 8, replacing the man he routed on Saturday in Mexico, Juan Alberto Rosas.
This Week's Ranked Fighters in Action
Super Middleweight: No. 2 Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KO) vs No. 3 Carl Froch (28-2, 20 KO)
Flyweight: No. 9 Luis Concepcion (24-3, 19 KO) vs Odilon Zaleta (14-1, 7 KO)
Strawweight: No. 7 Juan Palacios (29-3, 22 KO) vs Nerys Espinoza (29-8-1, 20 KO)
Other Notable Fighters in Action This Weekend
Junior Welterweight: Pier Olivier Cote (18-0, 12 KO) vs Mark Lloyd (15-5, 3 KO)
Lightweight: Pablo Cano (23-1-1, 18 KO) vs Fidel Monterrosa (29-5, 23 KO)
Lightweight: Ji-Hoon Kim (23-7, 18 KO) vs Alisher Rahimov (23-0, 12 KO)
Super Featherweight: Sergio Thompson (22-2, 20 KO) vs Juan Ramon Solis (17-5, 6 KO)
Super Bantamweight: Carl Frampton (13-0, 9 KO) vs Raul Hirales (16-0-1, 8 KO)