The cruiserweight division has really never gotten a grip in America, and probably never will. Something about the division's name -- "cruiserweight" -- sounds, I don't know, phony, or at the very least just doesn't sound like the division just below heavyweight, with big boys who can actually fight like the big boys used to fight, or at least as close as that's going to get anymore.
But there are good fighters all over the division, and for those who care to seek out feeds of the fights from Germany and elsewhere in Europe, it's pretty fun to follow.
Rakhim Chakhkiev (10-0, 8 KO) is by my estimation easily the best prospect in the division. The 28-year-old Russian southpaw stands at an even 6'0" and is now based in Germany, under Universum's banner. He recently signed a co-promotion deal with Golden Boy that saw him debut in the United States in April. Was an amateur star, who took silver at the 2007 World Amateur Championships, and then got revenge on the man who beat him (Italy's Clemente Russo) by beating him for Olympic gold in 2008.
Chakhkiev is nicknamed "The Machine," and it's fitting. He's a tough guy to back down, throws with serious intent, and means to inflict damage. He's a good finisher with serious power. His serious unibrow may well be intimidating. Might find the way they do business at Golden Boy preferable to the way they do business at Universum, if he's eager to become a top contender. Could move up to heavyweight in time, where his skill could well be enough to carry him past bigger men.
Isn't particularly young for someone at this level, and hasn't faced tough competition, either. On the same regard, a con is that he's promoted by Universum, instead of Sauerland or, oh, anyone else. He can be a little overly aggressive offensively, which leads to him getting hit. Hasn't mattered to date, but will when it's someone better hitting him. At 6'0", is fairly short for a cruiserweight, let alone a probably inevitable move up to heavyweight.
Other Cruiserweight Prospects
Poland's Mateusz Masternak (22-0, 16 KO) looks very promising so far. Cuban Yunier Dorticos (12-0, 12 KO) got a chance on Friday Night Fights this year and while he stopped Jose Luis Herrera in two, wasn't particularly impressive and sort of fought with that arrogance that just turns me off, a real "my shit don't stink" sort of guy who is destined to get a reality check. There aren't really any strong American prospects at the weight, because again, it's just not an American weight class. Eric Fields (17-1, 14 KO) has built up his record mostly in Washington and Oklahoma, and lost to Ola Afolabi in 2008, while Jeremiah Graziano (14-0, 13 KO) has built up his record in Kansas, which is just as bad.