Wladimir Klitschko: Is He The Top Heavyweight?

By Cesar Pancorvo: Since 2006, we knew that he was the best heavyweight. He became the man two years ago, when his brother Vitali was already retired, #1 heavyweight Lamon Brewster was losing and he was defeating Chris Byrd. There were no concrete proves to demonstrate that he was the best Heavyweight on the planet –and therefore probably the most dangerous boxer on the world–, but now this has changed, because he has unified the IBF and WBO belts and there is material, real, evidence to say without any doubt: “Wladimir Klitschko is the best Heavyweight, he is the ruler of the division, he is the Champ.."

Wladimir KlitschkoWhen Klitschko-Ibragimov was announced, I said that, if Klitschko won, he should be considered the Heavyweight Champion, and I haven’t changed my opinion, regardless of his performance. After all, Klitschko had already defeated Samuel Peter (arguably the current #2 or #3 contender), Chris Byrd (former #1) and Lamon Brewster (former #1)…What more evidence was needed to confirm that he was the Champion? By beating Ibragimov, who was a fine beltholder, he claimed another belt and collected all the evidence he needed. He could have fought Chagaev, who is also a top contender, but problems between promoters are stopping the possibilities of that bout, and Chagaev, sadly, has been unsatisfactory as a beltholder: inactiveness, then a fight against Matt Skelton, and now rumors of a potential fight against Luan Krasniqi.

If the good part of this story is that a man has finally crowned established himself as, evidently, the best heavyweight of the planet, and not just a primus inter pares, the bad part is that he did it with a lusterless, boring, tedious and unexciting performance, that was undoubtedly negative for boxing, probably lost some fans instead of gaining new ones and showed, once again, the mediocrity and weakness of the current heavyweight generation. This has been a rule or norm this year –I’m talking about performances that show the bad state of the heavyweight division– because of fights like Klitschko-Ibragimov, Povetkin-Chambers, Valuev-Liakhovich and Chagaev-Skelton. (Let’s hope that the long awaited bout between Maskaev and Peter can finally break this rule and bring some excitement, some fire to the division, because we deserve it after a year and a half of waiting for it. Yes, Peter-Maskaev should have happened in the last months of 2006, after Peter “won” the first eliminator against James Toney).

What’s next for Klitschko? Mandatories. He has to face Alexander Povetkin, which has formidable skills and a promising future that could be truncated, and also Tony Thompson. Who is Tony Thompson? He is a 36 year old American with a better recent resume than the rest of Americans; he has wins over Dominick Guinn, Timor Ibragimov and Luan Krasniqi, while the rest of the American contenders have recent losses –like Chambers, Brock, Byrd, Brewster, Ruiz, Rahman, Toney or Briggs, which have all lost in the last months and/or are past their prime. The most probable situation is Wladimir facing Thompson, soon. He knows his victory was unimpressive and will try to correct that mistake in his next fight, and Tony Thompson is ideal for that work. Povetkin has been recently elected as IBF mandatory and he will probably have to wait some more months, and, in my opinion, he should use them to fight more before challenging someone as dangerous as Klitschko.

Apart from this wave of mandatories, Klitschko seems to like the idea of unifying ALL the belts, but there is the problem of the WBC (Peter-Maskaev, then the winner against Vitali Klitschko, then the winner against Vladimir Virchis or Juan Carlos Gomez, and then, maybe, the winner against Danny Williams or James Toney) and it leaves us with an unlikely but possible fight against Ruslan Chagaev. Finally, these are the men that Klitschko should face, in order, if he wants to clean this division:

1. Ruslan Chagaev
2. Nikolay Valuev
3. Alexander Povetkin
4. Rematch with Samuel Peter

Klitschko is 31 and, after unifying, his story as Champion is just starting. Let’s see how far he can go.

Article posted on 02.03.2008

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