Wladimir Klitschko: Who Should He Fight Next?

wladimir klitschko09.08.07 - By Dave Domenico: The heavyweight boxing division seems to be getting better. A little better anyway. Amidst all the politics and lack of clarity in the division there is one fighter who sits at the top of the rubble. IBF Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (49-3, 44 KOs).

Wladimir is the consensus top heavyweight and most credible champion among most boxing experts, fans, and critics. Despite not being the unified champion, Wlad is certainly the top dog and man to beat right now. Having successfully defended his boxing title for the third time last month against his nemesis Lamon Brewster, Wlad has enough time left to have one more fight before the end of the year.

The question is whom should he fight. The first logical choice is that he fights another belt holder in the interest of unification but unfortunately, they are all unavailable. It does not look like any unification fight will happen this year unless Ruslan Chagaev (who is suddenly available pending an illness) challenges Wladimir. Aside from that, Wladimir is now forced to look down the list of boxing contenders and pick the best available opponent, but also one the fans would want to see. I have constructed a list of seven fighters whom are available and would make the most sense to fight Klitschko later this year. Some of you may agree, and some of you may not. Nevertheless, thatís the point right? Here is my list of opponents and their qualifications:

1. Ruslan Chagaev (23-0, 17 KOs): He just pulled out of a unification fight with WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov. The alleged reason is that he may have a form of hepatitis. If for some reason Ruslan recovers from what ever his problem is soon enough, he could challenge Wlad for a unification fight most likely this November. Ibragimov is now fighting the legendary Evander Holyfield for probably a much bigger purse and it is obvious that Chagaev would make a lot more money if he faced Wlad. If Chagaev were well enough, this would be the best and most meaningful match.

2. Tony Thompson (30-1, 18 KOs): Thompson is not very well known but at least he is winning fights, unlike many of the other names on my list. Tony Thompson made waves recently with his fifth round knock out of Luan Krasniqi who was a top heavyweight. With that victory, Thompson is ranked in the top ten by ring magazine. With that said, this could be an interesting fight since Thompson is big, has a long reach, is a descent boxer, and has reasonable power.

3. David Tua (47-3-1, 40 KOs): Despite being a journeyman these days, he has been active and winning. He is devoid of any serious ranking because he has been facing C-level competition. However, Tua is a recognizable name and he has been on a quest for a title shot for a while. He is a big puncher, he has never been knocked out, and if he could close the gap on Wlad, he could do some damage on the inside.

4. Hasim Rahman (42-6-2, 33 KOs): Since losing the WBC belt, Rahman won an unimpressive decision in his last fight. When he held the WBC strap, he showed serious interest in a showdown with Wlad. Now, it is reasonable that he could be a challenger for Klitschko since heís a recognizable name and still has a punchers chance. Rahman is still highly ranked by most organizations, and could have an interesting angle since he talked all that trash towards Wladís older brother Vitali in a fight that never materialized.

5. Shannon Briggs (48-5-1, 42 KOs): Most feel he probably does not deserve a shot a since he lost the WBO strap in his last fight. Nevertheless, Briggs is continuously making noise calling out Wlad. It seems that Briggs is scrambling for one last payday and he has not looked good in his recent fights. This is not the greatest match-up, but it still could be interesting if Briggs came to the fight in top condition.

6. James Toney (70-6-3, 43 KOs): His steroid suspension has been reduced, and it was reported he could return to the ring this November. This would be just in time for a Wlad defense and if Toney was allowed to train during his suspension, this fight could be made. Toney has many fans, he is a big name, and if he actually came to the fight in shape, it could be interesting.

7. Sergei Liakhovich (23-2, 14 KOs): The white wolf has not fought since Shannon Briggs knocked him out over a year ago. He is still a ranked fighter and has the boxing skill to be competitive. However, due to his inactivity, this fight is unlikely to happen.

We will have to wait to see what will unfold. There was some buzz that Corrie Sanders was a possible opponent but at this point what would that prove?

Article posted on 10.08.2007

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