Boxing Commentary: The WBA Tournament - Are These Guys Crazy?

nikolay valuev07.08.07 –By Paul McCreath: Word has just leaked out that the WBA have decided to put their heavyweight boxing champion, Ruslan Chagaev on the shelf. It seems he is rumored to have hepatitis B and will be out of action indefinitely, perhaps even permanently. This was the reason for the cancellation of his unification bout with Sultan Ibragimov the WBO champ.

Now it makes pretty good sense to do something with the title while we are waiting to find out if Chagaev can ever fight again, so what the people at the WBA have apparently decided is that they will put Chagaev out to recess or on vacation or something and they will hold a tournament to come up with a new champion. Whether he will be an interim champion or go by some other name, who knows? At any rate, Chagaev would meet the winner of the tournament if he ever comes back. Does this sound like the WBC deal with Vitali Klitschko to anybody?

The good part, at least if you like a good laugh, is the names of the fighters who will take part in the tournament. They have done the logical thing and named their four top ranked fighters to compete. The problem is their rankings. The top three are #1 Nicolay Valuev, #2 Sergei Liahovich, and #3 John Ruiz. All three have something in common, having all lost their last fight. What better way to qualify for an eliminator is there than to lose your last fight? Well, it works for these crazy alphabet boys. Ruiz and Valuev both lost to Chagaev, while Liakhovich was KO'd by the great Shannon Briggs in November 2006.

If you think that is bad, their number #4 fighter is Taras Bidenko. You know him, don't you? He beat uh, umm, er. Gee, he must have beaten somebody. I'll look it up. Nope, I don't see one name on his record that the casual fan would even recognize. Well there is his KO loss to Vlad Virchis in March 2005 or his 12 round loss to Valuev in July 2002 or maybe it was that 4-rounder he lost to Andrei Zadachin. You must know him, don't you?

What I can't figure out is why Virchis is not included. Besides KOing Bidenko, he went on to win the European title after that and has lost only to Chagaev. How can Bidenko be rated higher?

Just in case one of these four fighters decides he does not want to risk his wonderful record by meeting these other pillars of fistic excellence, the WBA has named their #5 as a standby. That would be Davarryl Williamson. That is the same Williamson who qualified for an IBF title shot against Chris Byrd in October 2005, after losing to Wladimir Klitschko, then stunk up the joint in a terrible losing effort against Byrd. These alphabet boys all work the same.

If there is anyone left who doesn't believe that the alphabet bodies are either out of their mind or crazy, I don't know what it will take. I have given up trying to rationalize what they do.

Article posted on 08.08.2007

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