1.) Tomasz Adamek (39-1, 27 KOs )
Buzz: He’s likely finished as a cruiser after giving up his IBF belt to fight Andrew Golata, who he rolled via fifth round TKO in October. His only loss is to Chad Dawson in a clear decision in 2007, although he dropped Bad Chad late in the fight. He’s set to face mid-level heavyweight Jason Estrada next.
Style: Adamek is a pressure fighter who never stops moving forward. Unlike most pressure fighters, he doesn’t waste a lot of punches. He’s got good power and a solid chin, but his upright style and lack of head movement make him vulnerable defensively.
Next: Jason Estrada on Feb. 6
2.) Steve Cunningham (22-2, 11 KOs )
Buzz: He is coming off of a convincing decision over downward spiraling former champ Wayne Braithwaite in a comeback fight after losing a split-decision to Adamek. He’s also TKOd highly ranked Marco Huck and avenged a loss to contender Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. He’ll face quick but underpowered Matt Godfrey as soon as the details can be worked out.
Style: Cunningham is a tall, rangy boxer with good skills, including a nice jab. He has only moderate power and can be sloppy and wide with his punches.
Next: Matt Godfrey on TBA
3.) Zsolt Erdei (31-0, 17 KOs )
Buzz: In his first fight as a cruiser, Zsolt snatched the WBC scepter by squeezing out a majority decision over Giacobbe Fragomeni in November. Erdei had been WBO light-heavy champ since ’04 but never faced any of the beasts in the division.
Style: Erdei is a traditional boxer puncher with solid all-around skills and a good jab but doesn’t shine in any particular area. At 179 pounds he may find himself to be a bit undersized and underpowered as a cruiser.
4.) Marco Huck (27-1, 20 KOs )
Buzz: The Huckster overcame a tough challenge from upstart Ola Afolabi to take a unanimous decision in defense of his WBO title in December. He was TKOd in 12 by Steve Cunningham in 2007, but it’s been all good in eight fights since then, although against names that few Americans could ever hope to even pronounce.
Style: Huck is a skilled but very basic type of fighter with a high-handed defense who uses his jab and works a lot of one-two combinations. He likes to let his hands go on the inside.
5.) Giacobbe Fragomeni (26-5, 10 KOs )
Buzz: He lost his WBC title to Zsolt Erdei in November after climbing out of the rug to notch a draw against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk earlier in the year. He was TKOd in nine by David Haye in 2006. There is gossip that he may face veteran Brit Herbie Hide, who I’m pretty sure has been fighting since the Churchill administration.
Style: Fragomeni is a pressure fighter with a peek-a-boo style who likes to work on the inside. He’s strong and seemingly tireless but lacks power. He’s also 40-years-old, but these days such things seem about as relevant as a fighter’s astrological sign.
6.) Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (42-2, 31 KOs )
Buzz: He dusted Bulgarian journeyman Konstantin Semerdjiev in an eight-round stay-busy fight in November after nearly taking Fragomeni’s WBC belt in June. He has also split a pair of decisions against Steve Cunningham, winning and losing the IBF title in the process.
Style: Wlodarczyk is a tough, decently skilled European style fighter with a lot of heart and respectable power.
7.) Ola Afolabi (14-2, 6 KOs )
Buzz: Afolabi has no amateur background and nearly took the WBO title from Marco Huck in December, just 16 fights into his boxing career. His only other loss was to super-middleweight contender Allan Green in his fourth fight in 2003.
Style: He is awkward and crafty with good hand speed and a good jab when he chooses to use it. He needs to overcome periods of inactivity in the ring.
8.) Troy Ross (23-1, 16 KOs )
Buzz: Ross stopped Daniel Bispo in the first round with a left to the body in his most recent fight in December. So far he’s been fighting and handling low to mid-level competition with the exception of a split-decision loss to unknown Willie Herring in 2005.
Style: He is a quick-handed southpaw with good power who is not quite as polished as he could be. He likes to engage but would be better served in utilizing his boxing skills more often.
9.) Denis Lebedev (19-0, 14 KOs )
Buzz: He won by sixth-round stoppage over Ali Ismailov in mid-December. He also joined an ever-expanding list of fighters with TKOs over Enzo Maccarinelli, in July. He’s mostly been banging out unknowns in Russia, with a couple of excursions to the U.K. to do the same.
Style: Lebedev is a left-hander with good all-around skills. He applies effective pressure and has good hand speed and a tight defense. He is a sharp puncher with a good offensive arsenal.
Next: TBA on February 22
10.) Matt Godfrey (20-1, 10 KOs )
Buzz: Godfrey last fought in September when he won a split-decision over Michael Simms. He is on a four-fight win streak since losing to Rudolf Kraj, the only fighter of note that he’s faced. He is allegedly supposed to fight Steve Cunningham for a belt.
Style: He has good boxing skills honed in a successful amateur career. He moves well and is fairly quick but lacks power.
Next: Steve Cunningham on TBA
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