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Bad Left Hook Weekly Boxing Rankings for March 21: Spotlight on Cruiserweight

The Klitschkos maintain their rule of dominance in the heavyweight division. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The Klitschkos maintain their rule of dominance in the heavyweight division. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Bongarts/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

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Ineligible

Alfonso Gomez, previously ranked No. 9 at welterweight, is out of the rankings. Gomez would have been ineligible a couple of weeks ago, but I extended his time in because he had a fight listed on BoxRec for March 19. There was never an opponent named and it didn't seem like a legit listing, really, but it was there so I gave him the extra time. Gomez last fought on March 3, 2010, and has nothing on the table right now, so he's out.

Everyone wave to Ali Funeka, as this will be his last week in the rankings unless he schedules a fight or even just a tentative date or something this week.

Changes

Brian Magee comes in at No. 10 in the super middleweight division despite his loss to Lucian Bute on Saturday night. The reasoning is not that Magee was particularly competitive, but that I truly feel having watched that fight that he's a better fighter than Robert Stieglitz. Wins and losses aren't the end-all, be-all for my rankings. Magee is, in my view, better than Stieglitz, and a gritty loss to a guy Stieglitz turned down fighting doesn't give me a good enough reason to pretend I think Stieglitz is better. After you get past the top five guys at 168, there's a dropoff, and you get into a lot of fighters roughly of the same quality -- good fighters, really, but a class below Ward, Bute, Kessler, Froch, and Johnson. There's a "bunch" factor going on after that, and with that comes a volatile situation where fighters will move in and out more frequently for me than most people would have. Again, rankings are not stone set for me. They can change for a lot of reasons.

Replacing Gomez at welterweight is American Randall Bailey, who slots in at No. 10 with Jan Zaveck bumping up to No. 9. There were a lot of possible replacements for Gomez, as like super middle this is a glory division but quite top-heavy. Here is who I gave strong consideration for the open spot:

  • Randall Bailey (41-7, 36 KO) - Bailey made the move to welterweight last year and knocked out the credible Jackson Bonsu in the first round, then had a fight with Said Ouali in December where he put Ouali on the canvas in the first and in the second wound up bodyslamming him. That fight was ruled a no-contest. Ultimately, I wound up giving Bailey the spot for a couple reasons. First, his win over Bonsu is pretty much as good as anything anyone else has, and second, if he does get an IBF title shot, I actually think he'll probably beat Zaveck.
  • Brad Solomon (17-0, 7 KO) - If Solomon had been a little more impressive on Friday against Demetrius Hopkins, I might have given him the spot. For now, he's just barely outside. Long-term, he likely ends up here, and if his next win is equal to the Hopkins win or better, then he probably takes the spot anyway.
  • Selcuk Aydin (20-0, 15 KO
  • Luis Carlos Abregu (29-1, 23 KO)
  • Paulie Malignaggi (28-4, 6 KO) - I know it might sound a little crazy, but there really aren't a lot of guys at 147 I strongly favor to beat Malignaggi.
  • Matthew Hatton (41-5-2, 16 KO) - Hatton is coming off of a wide loss, but lasted 12 rounds fighting over his normal weight against a stronger, younger man, and his recent resume is as good as anyone else's, but he's also had some trouble with the likes of Yuriy Nuzhnenko in the last year, so he remains just outside the fold.

Non-Changes

I didn't budge Odlanier Solis from his No. 9 spot at heavyweight, and none of the other guys who fought this weekend moved, either. Only Magee, in a loss, did anything. Guillermo Rigondeaux was very impressive, but it was against a limited fighter and doesn't erase the legitimate trouble he had with Ricardo Cordoba, even though I thought he definitely deserved that win over a good fighter. I just couldn't yet bump him over Steve Molitor, the fighter ahead of him in the rankings. That's a fight I'd like to see, though, and they're both Top Rank guys now.

After the jump, this week's Spotlight.

* * * * * SPOTLIGHT * * * * *

This week let's take a quick look at the cruiserweight top ten. It used to be I'd try to defend the cruiserweights by saying that if you like big guys who actually fight, like the old heavyweights used to, the cruiserweight division is for you. But since Adamek-Cunningham, I've been fairly down on this division. There's just no...excitement, I guess. There are good fights once in a while, but it's a European-based division and following it means constantly seeking out ways to see these fights, because none of them are aired in the States. So to me the cruiserweight division, in my head, winds up looking like me sitting in an office chair in the afternoon checking out a computer screen. Not exactly the same vision I get for an HBO card, you know?

Stevecunningham208_medium 1. Steve Cunningham (24-2, 12 KO)

Ah, U.S.S. Cunningham, the nicest man in boxing. Since losing that epic war to Adamek in 2008, Cunningham has cut his ties with Don King and gone to Germany to find a new promoter, which was smart because all of his biggest fights are realistically going to happen in Germany or elsewhere in Europe. He still isn't fighting enough, though. He beat Wayne Braithwaite in 2009 in Florida, and since heading to Germany has defeated Troy Ross in what was shaping up to be a very tight bout before a premature cut stoppage, and in February he defeated Enad Licina. I really hope we see Cunningham fight a couple more times this year. There are plenty of opponents out there that would make for a fine fight, and Cunningham being a bit vulnerable all the time always makes him interesting to watch. Also worth noting: Cunningham is 34 years old now.

2. Marco Huck (31-1, 23 KO)

Huck may have been a bit lucky to escape Denis Lebedev in December, but he did so. It was good to see him matched against someone on his level again, though. Nothing against Adam "Swamp Donkey" Richards, Brian Minto and Matt Godfrey, but none of them were close to being able to handle Huck's ultra-aggressive, mean-spirited style. Huck is currently set to face the thought-to-be-retired Italian Giacobbe Fragomeni (27-3-1, 11 KO) on April 2. Fragmoneni is a small cruiser (about 5'9") and looks his age (41 now) in recent fights.

3. Troy Ross (24-2, 16 KO)

The Guyana-born Ross, based in Canada, has had an odd career, and like Cunningham, he's older than you might expect at first (35). Ross was an Olympian for Canada in 1996 and 2000 but suffered an upset loss as a pro in 2005, and after one more fight, announced an early retirement. He came back in 2007, wound up winning the Commonwealth title and never defending it, and in 2009 won "The Contender." Since that he's just sort of existed, as happens with a lot of "Contender" products, but he's got real skills. I'd love to see him rematch Cunningham, but get the feeling that's a pipe dream.

4. Denis Lebedev (21-1, 16 KO)

31-year-old Russian southpaw Lebedev gave Marco Huck all he could handle in December. That's another rematch I'd like to see but won't hold my breath waiting for, sadly. Lebedev has a tentative date of June 4 in Moscow for his return.

5. Danny Green (31-3, 27 KO)

With his November win over BJ Flores in a fight actually within earshot of the cruiserweight limit, Green finally became a legitimate cruiser instead of a Super Light Heavyweight or whatever the hell he was doing with his 185-pound catchweight fights. Green's ego has become quite stunning, but I think you kind of have to forgive it -- he's a career fighter, a tough guy, and he's 38 years old. Of course he's going to try to take advantage of whatever is left of his career. He seems keenly aware that he's not getting younger, without actually saying anything about it, and he knows he's a real draw in Australia pretty much no matter who he fights. But hopefully his handlers can stick with at least Flores-level opponents and spare us the farces against Manny Siaca and Paul Briggs.

6. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (44-2-1, 32 KO)

Wlodarczyk had more trouble than was expected last September against Jason Robinson, but he was also coming back from injury. An April 2 fight with Francisco Palacios (20-0, 13 KO) should be taken for what it is. Yes, Palacios is undefeated, but he's fought nobody and he's 33 years old.

7. Yoan Pablo Hernandez (24-1, 13 KO)

Hernandez, 26, still has a lot of future left in this division, and has quietly become a strong contender and would make for a good opponent to anyone. He blasted Steve Herelius in February.

8. Alexander Frenkel (23-0, 18 KO)

Frenkel, the current European champion, hasn't fought since September, when he nearly decapitated Enzo Maccarinelli in one of the nastiest knockouts of the year.

9. Guillermo Jones (37-3-2, 29 KO)

Now 38, Jones is still a good fighter when he actually bothers to fight, which isn't very often. Chances are quite good he'll be out of the rankings in October when it's been a year.

10. Ola Afolabi (16-2-3, 7 KO)

Got a win on the Klitschko-Solis undercard this weekend.

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