Friday, December 09, 2022  |


State of the Game: Light heavyweights


This is the 15th in a series of stories from “The State of the Game,” the popular annual feature of THE RING magazine. We’re posting one weight class per day, starting with strawweight and working our way up to heavyweight. The package was featured in the July issue of the magazine. The August issue, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the cover story, is on newsstands now. Today: Light heavyweights.

It’s often been said that in boxing, the top two percent of the fighters make about 98 percent of the money. Well, we’re about to feed directly into that inequity. Not only do the top two percent get most of the money, but they get most of the attention too, and in “The State of the Game,” we focus primarily on that top two percent – the cream of every weight class. Maybe it’s not fair to the 145th best junior featherweight in the world, but hey, there’s a reason he’s only 145th best.

Still, you have to admit, we go deeper and include more fighters in State of the Game than just about any other article you’ll read all year. Where else will you find Wladimir Klitschko, Fernando Guerrero, Alfonso Gomez and Hekkie Budler all discussed in the same story?

Basically, the State of the Game is just what it sounds like: an all-encompassing exploration of where every division in boxing stands at this particular moment. As for the state of the sport as a whole, we know the balance of power is continuing to shift away from American fighters and away from the heavyweight division, but does that mean boxing is any worse off than it was a year ago or five years ago or 10 years ago? In a global sense, and judged in relativity to the economic climate across most of the world, no. Remember, some people in both the boxing community and the mainstream media opined three years ago that Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather was going to be the last megafight we’d see for years. How laughable is that now? We’ve since had four different pay-per-views cross the million-buy mark, and if Manny Pacquiao vs. Mayweather ever happens, it will crush every number Mayweather-De La Hoya posted.

Of course, all that this means is that the guys at the very top are getting exponentially richer while everyone else is struggling to make ends meet. Hey, that’s the way boxing has always been, and in a nutshell, that’s how life works. Boxing has loads of problems, no doubt, but year after year, it entertains and amazes those loyal followers who persevere through all the crap to get to the good stuff.


For a while now, we’ve been wondering when the guard was going to change at 175 pounds. Roy Jones entered the division way back in 1996 (point of reference: the O.J. Simpson civil trial was underway at the time), and ever since, the division belonged to fighters of his generation. A year ago, Jones was still a viable commodity, Bernard Hopkins was arguably the best fighter in the division, Antonio Tarver was somewhat relevant, and Glen Johnson was riding a wave of nine-straight fights he either won or could claim he deserved to win. Now, Jones has no viability, Hopkins is rated No. 4 by THE RING and almost certainly is not the best, Tarver is irrelevant (except as a commentator) and No. 2-rated Johnson has suffered two controversy-free setbacks over the past few years. Finally, the new generation is taking over at light heavyweight.

That new generation is highlighted by three fighters all in their 20s, with the leader being No-1-rated Chad Dawson, who won rematches against both Tarver and Johnson in the last 12 months. Dawson is followed closely by Canada-based Haitian No. 3 Jean Pascal, who impressed and entertained in twice defeating No. 7 Adrian Diaconu. And completing the trio is No. 5 Tavoris Cloud, a scary puncher who desperately needs to get busier and stop passing up opportunities. All three have major fights on the horizon. Dawson and Pascal are scheduled to fight on Aug. 14, possibly for THE RING championship. And Cloud will take on Johnson on Aug. 7, with a chance to once and for all finalize the generational shift.

There are also three lesser known, unbeaten fighters entering the picture and moving the focus from the past to the future: No. 6 Vyacheslav Uzelkov of the Ukraine, No. 8 Karo Murat of Germany, and No. .9 Nathan Cleverly of Wales. Meanwhile, No. 10 Chris Henry of the U.S. isn’t undefeated, but he is a heavy-handed X-factor in the division.

Oh, and because this is boxing and no division is safe from alphabet lunacy, two fringe contenders named Beibut Shumenov and Gabriel Campillo have traded a belt back and forth in a pair of controversial decisions. The less you know about this unfortunate situation, the better. Just understand that Shumenov has a trinket, and Dawson, the division’s best fighter, does not. Yes indeed, this division would benefit greatly from seeing a RING champ crowned.

Think About It: This division has a couple of amazing 40-something fighters, but perhaps the most amazing resume of all belongs to Lourival Luiz Da Silva, a 42-year-old light heavy from Brazil. Da Silva turned pro in 1989. He lost his pro debut. He took three years off and then returned in 1992 with a win, evening his record at 1-1. Sounds a little like how Bernard Hopkins started out, right? But then it takes a very un-Hopkins turn. Da Silva went from 1-1 to 1-36. Then he broke his 35-fight losing streak with a six-round majority decision win ÔǪ and got right back to business, losing 22 in a row. Da Silva now boasts a record of 2-58. We told you his resume was amazing. We just didn’t specify whether it was amazingly good or amazingly awful.


Best Puncher
Tavoris Cloud
Best Boxer
Chad Dawson
Most Protected
Marcus Oliveira
Most Avoided
Karo Murat
Is He Still Around?
David Telesco
Matchmaker’s Dream
Chad Dawson-Jean Pascal
Deserves A Title Shot
Chad Dawson
Most Fun To Watch
Jean Pascal
On The Way Up
Ismayl Sillakh
On The Way Down
Hugo Garay
Best Fight In 2009
Jean Pascal W 12 Adrian Diaconu (first fight)

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: blog/2081/state_of_the_game_super_middleweights /

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: blog/2078/state_of_the_game_middleweights /

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: blog/2075/state_of_the_game_junior_middleweights /

WELTERWEIGHTS: blog/2071/state_of_the_game_welterweights /

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS: blog/2069/state_of_the_game_junior_welterweights /

LIGHTWEIGHTS: blog/2067/state_of_the_game_lightweights/

JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTS: blog/2061/state_of_the_game_junior_lightweights /