The Light Heavyweights: What to Expect in 2012
By Paul Magno
One of boxing's original eight weight classes, the light heavyweight division has provided the sport with more than it's fair share of legends. From Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, and Bob Foster to Roy Jones Jr. and Virgil Hill, right up to the current crop of stars, the 175 lb. division has established a standard of excellence like few other weight classes.
In its current state, the top ten is full of solid fighters and quality potential matchups, but tied-up in stifling boxing politics. The coming year is not likely to see the end of the politics, so fans may have to endure some tough times in the immediate future.
Here's a look at what 2012 has in store for the light heavyweight division:
Along with the WBC's decision to declare the controversial two round Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson title bout a no contest, there was also the order of an immediate rematch. Nobody is really eager for Hopkins-Dawson II— not Hopkins, not Dawson, and definitely not the fans, who only produced 40,000 buys for the October pay-per-view. Barring some backstage maneuverings, though, Hopkins will defend his title against Dawson with the winner in line for an optional defense next.
Tavoris Cloud, who was set to defend his IBF title against former titlist, Zsolt Erdei, on New Years Eve will be looking for a substitute for the injured Erdei in January or February. The rest of the year, similar to 2011, will offer up two options— Inactivity or second tier light heavyweight fringe contenders.
Former WBC champ, Jean Pascal, has no immediate plans to re-enter the ring, but has been ordered to take on talented prospect, Ismayl Sillakh, in a title eliminator for a shot at the winner of Hopkins-Dawson II. However, Pascal is a major draw in Canada and may decide to give up his WBC ranking in favor of a less dangerous and more lucrative bout.
European titlist, Eduard Gutknecht, exists on the periphery as a possible opponent for Sillakh should Pascal reject his WBC-mandated title eliminator.
Young titlists, Beibut Shumenov and Nathan Cleverly (WBA and WBO champs, respectively), will continue looking for entertaining bouts against safe opponents while they fine-tune their skill sets. Rumors have recently popped up about Cleverly, the 24-year-old from Wales, possibly taking on former title challenger, Edison Miranda, but this is still little more than hearsay. For a while, there was significant buzz about a possible unification between Kazakhstan's Shumenov and Cleverly, but that talk has completely died down.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. He is the editor in chief of The Boxing Tribune, the only major boxing news site that refuses to accept promoter or network advertising. He is also a contributor to Fox Sports. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
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