The cruiserweight division has been treated by many American fighters as a stopover en route to the more lucrative heavyweight glamor division. Despite the secondary role in the American fight psyche, the 200 lb. class has produced quality fighters such as Evander Holyfield, Carlos Deleon, and Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
The IBF has mandated a February 4th return bout between Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Steve Cunningham in response to the controversial sixth round technical decision that saw Hernandez win Cunningham's title. Hernandez-Cunningham II is no sure thing for either fighter, but the winner faces a tough crew of potential challengers.
Right below the two top IBF cruiserweights, Contender reality show winner and former Cunningham opponent, Troy Ross is waiting to avenge a questionable TKO 5 loss to Cunningham in 2010.
Antonio Tarver made a successful return to the ring in 2011 when he beat Australia's Danny Green and has found his way into both the IBF and WBC rankings. A possible bout with Poland's WBC titlist, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, who also beat Danny Green in 2011, has been rumored.
WBO world cruiserweight champ, Marco Huck, will be temporarily moving up to heavyweight to take on Alexander Povetkin for the lesser WBA world title. If Huck has success, expect a permanent move to the land of the big men. If Huck is beaten, former opponent, Ola Afolabi is in the WBO's number one slot.
WBA titlist, Guillermo Jones, continues to boggle minds as to how he can still claim a world title. With only two bouts since winning the title in September of 2008, the champ from Panama should have been forced to vacate long ago. Who knows if Jones plans on fighting in 2012? As of now, nothing is on the agenda.
WBC titlist, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, will have to face Francisco Palacios at some point in 2012, even if the rumored Tarver fight comes through. Wlodarczyk edged Palacios via split decision in April of this year.
Freddie Roach pupil, Lateef Kayode, is slowly developing into one of the division's top prospects and 2012 will likely see the native of Nigeria step up his level of competition. Kayode is already ranked #1 in the WBA and #3 in both the WBC and WBO.
American BJ Flores and Poland's Mateusz Masternak are credible, ranked competitors who could quickly move into contention for a world title or meaningful title eliminator in the second half of 2012
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 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.