Five fights that will change the Heavyweight division

liakhovich26.11.07 – By Adrian Saba: Many people will disagree with me, but I think that the Heavyweight division has been getting better in the last two years, and it will, fortunately and inevitably, get even better in the following months. This in crescendo has happened because the fighters who are now on top have changed, and because the presence of Don King has (luckily) decreased.

In 2004 and 2005, which were –in my opinion– the worst years for the Heavyweight division, most top contenders were linked somehow to Don King; let’s remember who were two top contenders in that time: Chris Byrd and John Ruiz, obviously not very exciting fighters. The top dog was Vitali Klitschko, who was exciting, gallant, brave, but had many injuries and was inactive during all 2005.

During 2006 and 2007, new names appeared…Wladimir Klitschko returned to the top (he left the top in 2003 after the Corrie Sanders catastrophe), Samuel Peter consolidated as a contender, Sultan Ibragimov defeated Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield, Ruslan Chagaev opened his way to the top and, recently, Alex Povetkin gained the right to fight in a Title Eliminator. Coincidentally, these years have also marked the decadence of American dominance and, since the start of this decade, boxing has been shining in Eastern Europe and Russia.

The Heavyweight division now rotates around five fights that will happen in the near future and that will change the rankings, five fights between top contenders or contenders.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Sultan Ibragimov (Febraury 23rd): The Ring ranks Klitschko as the #1 heavyweight and Ibragimov as the #6; that’s a terrible mistake. I rank Ibragimov as my #3 heavyweight. The winner of this fight will have two belts. Klitschko has already defeated former #1 Chris Byrd, former #1 Lamon Brewster, and a top contender in Samuel Peter, so for me this is a fight that could finally crown him as the king. Ibragimov has showed a lot of courage by signing for a unification fight against Chagaev and now for agreeing to fight Klitschko. He is a different kind of fighter, and is ducking no one. Klitschko has had a weak year (apart from a win over Brewster he only defeated Ray Austin) and should try to win in exciting fashion. Klitschko TKO6.

Samuel Peter vs. Oleg Maskaev (Febraury 2nd): Finally. Oleg Maskaev has been one of the most inactive titlists. In more than a year he has only defended the title against a fringe contender called Peter Okhello. Do I have bad memory or did Oleg say before that fight: “I’m going to defend my title against someone in the WBC Top12”? Okhello was in the WBC Top12, yes, but he was the #12. Maskaev is old and inactive, Peter should be favoured to win. But his weaknesses were shown in the fight against McCline and now some are saying that Maskaev has a lot of chances against Peter. Maskaev is not McCline, he is a totally different fighter. Different body type, different style. Peter KO3.

Nikolay Valuev vs. Sergei Liakhovich (January 19th): This is an Eliminator for the Chagaev’s undefended WBA belt. The winner will probably fight him in mid-2008, which means that the WBA belt won’t be unified soon. Valuev is a wild card, he can give problems to anybody due to his style. Liakhovich has been…inactive. He had a spectacular win over Brewster but then was KOed in the last 30 seconds against Shannon Briggs and, since that moment, everything has been silence. It depends how well Liakhovich adapts to Valuev’s height. Maybe he can outwork him, outbox him, and win, but probably he’ll lose a close and competitive decision in a boring and distasteful fight. Valuev UD12.

Juan Carlos Gomez vs. Vladimir Virchis: Hopefully this will materialize soon. It will be an Eliminator for Peter/Maskaev’s WBC belt. Virchis is one of the most powerful punchers in the division (like Klitschko and Tua), while Gomez is a fine boxer that is not impressive above 200 pounds and that defeated Sinan Samil Sam and Oliver McCall. Will the Yanqui Diaz fight always haunt him? In this case, I think the Ukrainian wins. Virchis KO5.

Eddie Chambers vs. Alex Povetkin: Two fresh names. I’ve been following Sasha Povetkin’s pro career since before it started, he will achieve a lot in boxing, although he should stay far from Wladimir Klitschko for a couple of years. Povetkin had an impressive win over Chris Byrd, which is not easy (only Klitschko and Ibeabuchi defeated Byrd). Eddie Chambers, another new contender, defeated Calvin Brock. Though he was overweight, he showed good skills and showed us that his hand speed is notable, his best attribute. Povetkin UD12.

Question of the week: Where is Ruslan Chagaev?

Article posted on 26.11.2007

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