Americans Mostly Missing in Upcoming Heavyweight Action: Brewster, Holyfield, Briggs, Byrd, Brock, Austin and McCline
15.11.07 - By Paul McCreath: The next few months hold great promise for heavyweight fans as most of the top heavies are either signed for meaningful action or at least in the late negotiating stages for big fights. Hopefully more of these proposed matches will actually take place than what we saw this fall with the many postponements and cancellations that were so disappointing.
Article posted on 15.11.2007
The biggest upcoming bout is the so far still unsigned unification match between International Boxing Federation belt holder and uncrowned real champion Wladimir Klitschko and the World Boxing Organization champ Sultan Ibragimov. The match seems almost set for late February and will at least eliminate one of the surplus champs for a time, although the unification is not likely to be long lasting. At least it is an attractive fight but neither fighter is American.
We do have two Americans who are in line for big fights, but both face an uncertain future. Eddie Chambers, a promising young fighter, will meet Russian Alexander Povetkin in the new year, in a final eliminator for the right to meet Wladimir Klitschko for his IBF title. If the match with Wladimir doesn't look too promising for Chambers, the Povetkin bout is not much better. Alex is considered the top heavyweight prospect in the world and will go into this fight a definite favorite. It looks like a dead end for Chambers for now, although he may still have a bright future a little further down the line, perhaps at cruiserweight.
Tony Thompson, the other American in line for something big, won an eliminator from Luan Krasniqi to qualify for a shot at the WBO crown back in July, but he could be in for a long wait. Ibragimov, the WBO champion, is lined up with Wladimir, so who knows what will happen after that? The winner will be facing two mandatories, either Thompson or the Chambers-Povetkin winner. Who will come first? Will the new unified champ keep the WBO title? Thompson could wind up meeting somebody for the vacant belt.At any rate it looks like a long wait ahead for Thompson.
That leaves us with the other two alphabet belts. Ruslan Chagaev the WBA champ, and Oleg Maskaev, the WBC belt holder, are both European and both have been sidelined lately. Chagaev is well again now and rumored to be looking for a voluntary defense in the early new year. No opponent has been decided yet, but all the suggested names I have heard are European fighters. Two other men from the continent, former WBA champ Nicolay Valuev and former WBO champ Sergei Liakhovich, are now matched in a final eliminator to determine a mandatory challenger for Chagaev after that, perhaps during next summer.
Maskaev, on the other hand, is finally booked to meet Nigerian Sam Peter on February 2nd. The winner is to meet another European, former WBC champ Vitali Klitschko. That winner is to meet the survivor of the eliminator between two more non-American heavies, the Ukrainian Vlad Virchis and the Cuban Jose Luis Gomez. Wow! Not an American in site!
In addition to these title bouts and eliminators already mentioned, we have two of Europe's better young prospects finally taking a step up. Alexander Dimitrenko, the 26-0 Ukrainian, will try on big German vet Timo Hoffman (36-5-1) this weekend, while 25-1 Russian slugger Oleg Platov will meet good German boxer of Turkish decent,Cengiz Koc, 23-3, in early December. Both Dimitrenko and Platov are looking to step onto the world scene in the near future. Meanwhile, the EBU has named Brit Matt Skelton and Dimitrenko to meet for the Euro title vacated by Virchis.
So what are the Americans doing? Well the old guys like Evander Holyfield, Shannon Briggs, Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, Lamon Brewster and Jameel McCline have been pretty well pushed out of the picture. None have a big fight scheduled. John Ruiz is trying to get involved again but who wants him? Hasim Rahman continues his Briggs-like soft touch campaign, but that holds little promise. The most promising newcomer, Chris Arreola, has his career on hold for a bit after the death of a close friend. He will be back but this is a setback for him. Kevin Johnson and Malik Scott are not setting the world on fire with their choice of victims, although they remain active.
That leaves us with Joe Mesi or Tye Fields. I wouldn't hold my breath on them if I were you. As for the Chazz Witherspoon, another one of the American prospects, he's too far away from contention at this point. By the way, don't be fooled by the December 28th scheduled bout between Dominick Guinn and Alonzo Butler (26-0-1). Butler's record is, in my opinion, a mirage. He has never met a serious opponent and is not likely to get by Guinn. This is the kind of record Teddy Atlas is referring to when he talks about southern or midwest fighters. Teddy is full of it at times but in this case, he is right.
That about sums up the situation right now. It's not good news for Americans, but if we still get to see the big fights, who cares?
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