Boxing Notebook: Ibragimov vs Klitschko

28.11.07 - By Michael Montero: Come February 23rd, boxing fans need to step up…I’m going to keep this short, simple and to the point because the facts speak for themselves. On February 23rd in New York City, Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov (two guys who are actually walking the walk and not just talking the talk) will meet to unify titles. This is the first time any heavyweight titles will be unified since 1999 and it’s about damn time!

wladimir klitschkoWhen Lennox Lewis beat Evander Holyfield eight years ago to unify alphabet straps, he emerged as the unanimously recognized TRUE (linear) heavyweight champion of the world. I feel the same honor should be bestowed upon the winner of the upcoming bout in February. However I’m concerned that the American boxing media will largely disagree with me as neither fighter is American, neither “beat the man who beat the man” and the fact that they are not ranked #1 and #2, respectively, by the Ring Magazine…

That means it’s up to you and I, the fans, to anoint the winner of this match as the TRUE champion. Screw what the RING Magazine, ESPN, USA Today, etc think. I’m laying out the facts here and now to make a clear and concise case for the winner of this fight to join the all-time list of linear heavyweight champions; their name following that of the great Lennox Lewis.

Wladimir Klitschko
Amateur record: over 200 bouts with numerous tournament victories (going all the way back to the juniors), ending with a Gold Medal at Super Heavyweight in the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, GA, USA
Professional Record: (49-3-0, 44 Kos)
World Titles Held: WBO (2000-2003, defended 5 times), IBF (2006-current, defended 3 times), IBO (2006-current, defended 3 times)
Notable Victories: Monte Barrett, Chris Byrd (twice), Francois Botha, Ray Mercer, Jameel McCline, Samuel Peter, Calvin Brock, Lamon Brewster (rematch)
Current Universal Ranking: wherever you look, is seen as #1 worldwide

Sultan Ibragimov
Amateur record: over 200 bouts with numerous tournament victories (going all the way back to the juniors), ending with a Silver Medal at Heavyweight in the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia
Professional Record: (22-0-1, 17 Kos)
World Titles Held: WBO (2007-current, defended once)
Notable Victories: Lance Whitaker, Shannon Briggs, Evander Holyfield
Current Universal Ranking: ranked anywhere from 3-6 in most media publications worldwide

Other notes to consider: Klitschko has twice beaten Byrd, defeated Peter and avenged his last loss to Brewster – all three of these men have been ranked #1 at some point (Peter is currently ranked #2 by RING Magazine). Ibragimov has victories over two former linear world champions, Briggs and Holyfield. Both Wladimir and Sultan had stellar amateur careers resulting in Olympic medals like so many all-time greats had before them. Finally, both men have mandatories to fight in 2008 and neither man HAD to take this fight – they deserve to be rewarded!

Look at the current mess with the WBC – Oleg Maskaev, the “real” WBC titlist, must face “interim titlist” Sam Peter on February 2nd. The winner must then face a mandatory (Juan Carlos Gomez) and after all of that, may very well have to face “emeritus titlist” Vitali Klitschko (if he can actually stay healthy enough for another fight)! Needless to say, the WBC title will NOT be unified for a L-O-N-G time. On to the WBA strap, which may as well be called “the German heavyweight Championship” from now on. Former titlist Nicolai Valuev is rumored to be fighting Sergei Liakhovich to become current titlist Ruslan Chagaev’s mandatory – expect all of these bouts to be in Germany and be to OFF of American Television. Also, don’t be surprised if John Ruiz (the WBA’s current #3, don’t ask me how) works his way into the mix via court room battles (as opposed to ring battles). Bottom line; don’t expect the WBA to be put up for unification anytime soon as well…

What does all this mean? It’s simple. This Klitschko-Ibragimov unification bout is the only chance we’ve had at anointing a true heavyweight champion in eight years and will probably be the only chance we’ll have over the next few years as well. This is the chance we’ve all been waiting for everybody – so let’s do these two warriors justice and acknowledge the winner as THE champion. How do we do this? We ignore the alphabet titles and refuse to recognize the other “champions”; we see the WBC and WBA titlists merely as contenders and we add the winner of February’s unification bout to our “Linear Heavyweight Champions” lists. As the fans of boxing, we ultimately have power (the final “say so” if you will) as to who the real champions are. But we MUST step up – not just with our voices – but with our wallets as well. If the fans stop talking about, viewing, purchasing PPVs and/or going in person to see bogus “title matches” – the powers that be in professional boxing will finally get it and would eventually put their fighters up against the one true champion. The power is in our hands fellow fans of pugilism; so come February 23rd let’s step up to the plate!

Comments, questions, hate mail – you know what to do. I plan on posting a mailbag with the reader’s best questions/comments very soon so bring ‘em on. I want to hear from you…


Article posted on 28.11.2007

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