A look at the cruiserweight division

By Alex Stone


A look at the cruiserweight division

Stone's Slant

Stone’s Slant: The Cruiserweight Division

I hope you all enjoyed the heavyweight rankings last week. I got some well thought responses and questions from some of you, thank you for writing. Today, we will break down the Cruiserweights. This is one of the most exciting divisions in boxing, from 176 to 200 pounds, these guys are as fast as middleweights and hit as hard as most heavyweights. The two fights between Jean-Marc Mormeck and O'Neill Bell were better than any recent heavyweight fight. Unfortunately, cruiserweight is one of the most underexposed divisions in boxing. So, without further ado, I give you my cruiserweight rankings. The official Boxingtalk ratings are listed in parentheses.

1.  Jean-Marc Mormeck (33-3 with 22 KOs) (WBC/WBA/ Boxingtalk World Champion) No way to argue this one, Mormeck is the indisputable world champion. Mormeck lost his titles to O’Neil Bell in devastating fashion in 2006 after being out of the ring for a while and reportedly distracted by outside influences. He nearly destroyed Bell early but then his legs turned to jelly. Mormeck then took a tune-up fight, pulled his head out of his ass and came back to win a unanimous decision in the rematch with Bell to regain the championship. He is certainly a scary force to be reckoned with when he is on his game. The power puncher from France will make a defense of his titles in November against a deserving and capable David Haye… though a rubber match with Bell can’t be far from fruition. Next Fight: November 10 vs. David Haye for the world cruiserweight championship

2.    O’Neil Bell  (26-2-1 with 24 KOs) (Boxingtalk # 2)  Wow, this guy is on a collision course to ruining his life. If he’s not being accused of throwing a hatchet at a training partner, he’s pulling out of ESPN fights without telling anyone… how Zab Judah of him. Bell won the undisputed championship by stopping Mormeck almost two years ago and has fought once since then, losing the title back to Mormeck by unanimous decision. If he doesn’t end up in screwing his promoter out of serious money, maybe he will get the much anticipated rubber match he claims to want so badly. Next Fight: TBA

3.    Steve Cunningham (20-1 with 10 KOs)  (IBF Champion - Boxingtalk # 3)  Cunningham is a good all-around fighter. He has decent power and very good technical skills. However, he hasn’t gotten television exposure and therefore is unknown in the USA and will only make good money against the boys in Europe. This makes losing his title via decision more likely. This was the case when Cunningham went to Poland to face Krzysztof Wlodarczyk for the first time. Cunningham was the victim of a split decision loss for the vacant IBF title. Showing the heart of a champ, Cunningham protested and went right back into the lions den for another crack at the title, flooring the champ and taking the IBF strap in the process. May have to go overseas again to face Marco Huck but is trying to get out of it. The real question here is… why? Huck is a decent fighter and Europe is where Cunningham will make his bucks.  Whatever happens next for Cunningham, I hope it’s televised here in the states. Next Fight: TBA, likely Marco Huck

4.    Enzo Maccarinelli  (27-1 with 20 KOs) (WBO Champion - Boxingtalk # 6) The 27-year-old from Wales has been the WBO champion for over a year now. However, many had argued that the class of his opposition was not up to par with for a so-called champion (Bobby Gunn???) This past July though, Enzo stepped up somewhat, taking a landslide decision over former world champion Wayne Braithwaite. Maccarinelli has been staying busy since winning his belt, a good sign for a promising young fighter, and will defend his strap once again on the under card of Calzaghe – Kessler. If washed-up Ezra Sellers becomes his November opponent, it will be a step backwards for Macca’s credibility.  Next Fight: November 3 vs. TBA, likely Ezra Sellers

5.    Marco Huck (19-0 with 14 KOs)  (Boxingtalk # 8) The hard-hitting German worked his way through the rankings, winning 18 fights in a row against varied opposition. He stepped up in his most recent fight and out-pointed the rugged and then undefeated Vadim Tokarev to earn a shot at the IBF title. This is a great opportunity for the rising European star, the only question is will he ever get the chance? I hope so, meaningful match-ups like Huck-Tokarev and Cunningham-Huck are what boxing needs. Next Fight: TBA, possibly Steve Cunningham

6.    David Haye  (19-1 with 18 KOs) (Boxingtalk # 5) The six-foot-three Brit has fought  decent opposition, but will take a huge step up in class when he contests the world championship vs. Mormeck. While he will enjoy a four-inch height advantagethat alone wont be enough. Haye can punch, and we know Mormeck is never afraid to bang. That can only mean one thing… someone is going to get rocked. Haye has removed himself from his hometown of London to train in seclusion on the island of Cyprus. Seclusion couldn’t save Jermain Taylor, but maybe it will help Haye. Next Fight: November 10 vs. Jean-Marc Mormeck for Mormeck’s world championship

7.    Vadim Tokarev – 26-1-1 (16 KO’s)  (Boxingtalk # 9) This Russian star was heading toward a title fight, undefeated in 27 fights including a unanimous decision win over Darnell Wilson and a TKO of then rising star Felix Cora Jr. All was well until he dropped a very close majority decision to Huck for the IBF number one spot. There’s no shame in losing that fight and Tokarev rebounded nicely over the weekend with a third-round stoppage over Marlon Hayes. Next Fight: TBA

8.    Darnell Wilson  (22-5-3 with 19 KOs) (Boxingtalk # 10) The great Muhammad Ali once said, among many things, “It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, as long as you get back up.” Wilson could be the epitome of this saying, except he’s never been knocked down. In less than a year, Wilson dropped four straight unanimous decisions. Though these losses were against good opposition, most men would quit or resign to tomato-can status… not Wilson. The “Ding-a-Ling-Man” has rebounded with four straight stoppage victories against very solid opposition. Note to insiders: Maccarinelli ducked Wilson's offer to come to Wales, instead chosing to fight a name from the 90s, Ezra Sellers. Next Fight: TBA

9.    Firat Arslan (27-3-1 with 18 KOs) (WBA interim beltholder (whatever the hell that means – Boxingtalk # 7) OK, let me try to make some type of clarity of this for you. Jean-Marc Mormeck is the undisputed cruiserweight champion, as well as the WBA “super champion”. Virgil Hill is getting toward caveman status and lost a unanimous decision to Mormeck for the title. Then, in his next fight, Hill defeats Valery Brudov for the WBA regular title because Mormeck became super champion (understandable, I know). Then, Brudov goes on to defeat two opponents with a combined record of 11-9 and somehow ends up in a bout with Firat Arslan for the WBA interim title while Hill fights Henry Maske , who hadn’t boxed since 1996! Get the picture? Didn’t think so. The real question that should be asked… is everyone freaking nuts around here? Go ahead, you try to make sense of that… don’t worry… I’ll wait. But Arslan gets a rating over Hill because Arslan can actually fight. Hopefully this whole mess will be taken care of as Arslan is set to meet Hill, making the winner the WBA regular champion and doing away with the interim title. Surely, Hill will try to get out of the fight. God… that was tiring. Next Fight: TBA vs. Virgil Hill for some kind of WBA crap.

10. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (37-2 with 27 KOs)  (Boxingtalk #4) For those of you die-hard boxing fans who actually know anything about the cruiserweight division, let alone the Europeans in that division, I can understand why you may think this rating a bit low for the former “champion”. The reason I place champion in quotation marks is because when Wlodarczyk won the IBF strap, it was a vacant (illegitmate) title… for all the wrong reasons. When Mormeck and Bell fought the first time it was for the WBC, WBA and IBF belts. Bell won, but instead of making a meaningless mandatory defense, he did the right thing and gave Mormeck a rematch of what was one of the fights of the year. This resulted in the IBF stripping Bell (how generous of them). Wlodarczyk got it on with Steve Cunningham and won a controversial split decision in his home country. In his next fight, he lost the rematch and the belt to Cunningham, once again in Poland. While Cunningham may be an elite fighter, in the minds of many, Wlodarczyk never really defeated him. Nevertheless it was still a win on paper. However, before fighting Cunningham, the level of opposition Wlodarczyk faced was less than stellar. A combined opponents record of 369-260-26 (a win percentage of 56%) isn’t terrible, but doesn’t raise any eyebrows either. While the IBF belt should belong to Mormeck, it’s at least in a better place with Cunningham. Wlodarczyk is a big guy, and packs a nice punch. It would be great to see him in some more meaningful fights in the near future. Next Fight: October 20 vs. pushover Domonique Alexander (who wont be in Kansas anymore, Toto)

Honorable Mention: Tomasz Adamek (Boxingtalk #11), Matt Godfrey (Boxingtalk #12), Vincenzo Cantatore (Boxingtalk #13), Valery Brudov (Boxingtalk #14) and . Dishonorable mention: Virgil Hill (Boxingtalk #22)



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