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Afolabi, Klitschko, Ustinov, Skelton, McConnell Expose Pretenders

On Saturday, March 3, 2012, three of the better known heavyweights and one of the best cruiserweights in the world got taken to task by claimants seeking to use their marquee names as stepping stones.

In the fifth round, fourth round, third round, and finally the second round, the champion, the top contenders, and a most experienced veteran proved ring generalship was more than a match to dispose of would be pretenders to the throne, and the four endings in major bouts were ugly.

Ola Afolabi By TKO in the Fifth Round, Wins Interim WBO Cruiserweight Title

At the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany, on the Klitschko-Mormeck undercard, Ola Afolabi, a London, United Kingdom fighter now based out of Los Angeles, California, claimed the interim WBO cruiserweight title with a fifth round stoppage of pretender Valery Brudov of Pskov, Russia.

Brudov has fought one fight a year for the last four years, and inactivity against a fighter of Afolabi's stature won't help.

Brudov has been in five world title bouts, his only win being an interim WBA title contest against Luis Andres Pineda in Paris, France in December 2006. Including the Brudov fight, Pineda won only one of his last eight bouts, not exactly much of a challenge. Brudov needed 11 rounds to top Pineda, while Francisco Palacios needed only two.

Brudov lost decisions in world title bouts to Virgil Hill and First Arslan, and was stopped in a WBA title clash in December 2010 in the eleventh round against Guillermo Jones. Somehow a victory over Kansas tomato can Jim Franklin, a winner of only one of his last ten bouts including the loss to Brudov, somehow qualified Brudov for this WBO 'opportunity'.

Afolabi, now 19-2-3, 9 kayos, won the vacant WBO Inter-Continental title with a fifth round stoppage of Lubos Suda in Cologne, Germany, in March 2011. He defended it with a first round knockout of Terry Dunstan in June 2011 in Hamburg, Germany. In September 2011, Afolabi won an eight rounder over trialhorse Lukasz Rusiewicz in Wrlocaw, Poland in which he got some work in, given the scheduled opponent did not show.

Afolabi knocked down Brudov in the third and the fifth rounds, then gave Brudov a bloody beating with both hands, devastating enough to perhaps end the career of the Russian, now 39-4, 28 kayos.

The win guaranteed Afolabi a revenge rematch with Marco Huck, if Huck goes back to cruiserweight. If Huck decides to stay at heavyweight after his recent controversial decision loss to WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin, then Afolabi becomes the full WBO champion.

Wladimir Klitschko TKO 4, Retains Ring Magazine World Heavyweight Title

In addition to being Ring Magazine's universally recognized heavyweight champion, Dr. Wladimir Klitschko also holds the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight titles, and the belts are not going anywhere anytime soon.

His bout with Jean-Marc Mormeck looked more like a killer whale sadistically chewing on a minnow. At 57-3 with 50 kayos, 'Steelhammer' Klitschko, Kiev, Ukraine, has not had a decent opponent to give him a challenge in eight years.

Ex-Cruiserweight champion Jean-Marc Mormeck, 40 years old, Pantin, France, now 36-5 with 22 kayos, somehow qualified for this world heavyweight title opportunity with three decision wins in his native France which probably would not have gone his way elsewhere.

Questionable wins against Vincent Maddalone, Fres Oquendo and Timor Ibragimov (a split decision in 12 rounds) got him a world title shot. Ibragimov could not go two rounds with power hitter Seth Mitchell, a telltale sign of the impending doom Mormeck would face against Wladimir's power.

Wladimir knocked down Mormeck in the second and finished him off in the fourth. If Mormeck had survived the fourth round, he would have had to win the last eight frames consecutively to win the bout. Mormeck landed only three punches the whole fight, and got paid six hundred thousand American dollars-an interesting statistic only if you consider how much the loser got paid per punches landed.

26-0 Heavyweight Alexander Ustinov TKO 3 over Trinidad's Kertson Manswell

All's well that ends well. However, in the case of Trinidad and Tobago heavyweight Kertson Manswell, 20-0 meant nothing when 'you ain't fought nobody'. 6'7 1/2' 306 pounds Alexander Ustinov of Minsk, Belarus is just the latest heavyweight to beat Manswell, another pretender.

Other main event heavyweights who have beaten Manswell recently include Ruslan Chagaev, Cedric Boswell, Mike Perez and Bernane Stiverne. Excluded from the recent list are two hopeless chumps kayoed in the first round by Manswell in his native Trinidad, much ado wins about nothing.

Heavyweight Matt Skelton, Age 45, TKO 5 Over British Prospect Tom Dallas

Why dig up 45 year old former British Commonwealth and European Heavyweight champion Matt Skelton to fight a rising prospect nearly twenty years younger? Because you want to know if the prospect can fight or cannot fight.

In a classic case of 'daddy beats sonny boy', the old man prevailed here. Skelton, now 26-6, 21 kayos, Bedford, England, had a field day beating up pretender Tom

Dallas, now 15-2, 11 kayos, Chatham, Kent, England, before referee Phil Edwards stopped the bout at 1:00 of the fifth round.

Perhaps the handlers of Dallas felt Skelton's age would make him an easy target. It wasn't so. After getting knocked out by unbeaten prospect David Price in two rounds in June 2011 in his previous bout, Dallas' career is over.

European Champ McConnell TKO 2, Disposes of a Bozo Named Pozo

A winner of ten straight coming into this mismatch of a match, British and European Bantamweight champion Jamie McConnell is ready for a world title opportunity. McConnell, now 19-2-1, 8 kayos, needed only two rounds to dispose of pretender Ivan Pozo, now 32-7-1, 20 kayos, Pontevendra, Spain. The crowd in Sheffield Yorkshire, England, certainly did not get to see much. Pozo's worst fight.

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