Boxing

An undisputed Heavyweight Champ – is 2009 the year? Klitschko-Peter

By Michael Montero: Wladimir Klitschko is undoubtedly the best heavyweight in the world and Sam Peter is the clear runner-up after his dismantling of Oleg Maskaev last Saturday. Although Wlad holds a victory over the “Nigerian Nightmare” a few years ago, it wasn’t a dominant victory and Peter has since won fights against formidable opponents James Toney, Jameel McCline and Maskaev en route to claiming the WBC belt..

President Jose Sulaiman, in his infinite wisdom, appointed Vitali Klitschko as the WBC mandatory last year. Yes, you read correctly – I wrote VITALI Klitschko.

You know - the guy that hasn’t fought in over three years and can’t seem to walk to the street to pick up his newspaper without spraining something? Yeah, that guy. He held the heavyweight division hostage for months with injuries back when he was supposed to fight Hasim Rahman, then retired, only to “unretire” and sign on for a comeback fight against McCline. He then pulled out of that fight due to yet another injury – but none the less he’s still the WBC mandatory. Gotta love it right?

I’m estimating that a Sam Peter-Vitali Klitschko fight will probably be made late this year. Of course we’d all love to see it this summer, but Peter co-promoter Don King will make financial negotiations for this bout pure hell – don’t be surprised if this one goes to purse bid. It’s also easy to assume that Vitali will suffer a training injury and postpone the bout at least once, meaning we’ll probably finally see this match in November or December. Bottom line, the heavyweight division will not be advanced any further for the remainder of 2008.

But there is always a bright side to things. For one, the winner of this bout will be free of mandatory obligations for at least a year. Second, it could set up the biggest heavyweight fight since Lewis-Tyson if a certain scenario plays out. If “Dr. Iron Fist” can actually make it through training camp and the fight indeed comes off, a dominant Peter victory sets up a HUGE rematch with younger brother Wladimir in 2009! By then, the younger Klitschko should be through taking care of his overmatched IBF and WBO mandatories (Alexander Povetkin and Tony Thompson, respectively). Hopefully, King’s options on Peter will be slim to none by then, making negotiations even easier for a Klitschko-Peter II bout.

I envision “Dr. Steel Hammer” handling business with Thompson this summer. I believe that Povetkin will pull out as IBF mandatory and it would be VERY wise for him to do so. However, if he does fight Klitschko, the bout will be late this year in Germany and ultimately end with him being put to sleep. Meanwhile, I expect Peter to not only beat Vitali Klitschko in their mandatory bout, but to stop him. You heard it here folks – late this year, Samuel Peter will become the first and only man to ever truly stop Vitali (his two TKO losses were due to injury). The Nigerian is just too young, too strong and too motivated for this rusty, injury-prone version of Vitali. Anyway, if this scenario actually plays out, the division’s #1 and #2 will be free of sanctioning body mandatories and have plenty of motivation to face each other for the second time; leaving absolutely NO excuse for the biggest heavyweight fight this century to happen.

Of course this is boxing and Murphy’s Law will inevitably come into play, but this boxing fan remains hopeful that we will eventually get what we want (an undisputed heavyweight champion) – we just have to be patient. After all the mandatory garbage is sorted over the remainder of the year, us boxing nuts may just get to see the big heavyweight clash we want to see in 2009. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but I believe it can happen…

Random Rants

- You gotta give it to Don King, he’s a survivor. Just when he had lost his grip on the lightweight championship of the world as he split with Juan Diaz, he immediately regained it as his boy Nate Campbell upset the “Baby Bull” last Saturday. Now the question is, will Don do the right thing? Please Mr. King, work to make a bout between Campbell and the winner of the upcoming Joel Casamayor-Michael Katsidis match to give us a true, undisputed 135-pound champion. Diaz was scheduled to fight Casamayor earlier this year and the bout was as good as signed, but your ego wouldn’t let Juan have the fight because he was planning to leave your stranglehold and sign with Golden Boy Promotions. Well, now you have a champ that wants to stay signed with you in Nate Campbell, so please make the fight!

- David Haye proved that he is truly the best cruiserweight in the world and probably the best since Evander Holyfield after demolishing WBO titlist Enzo Maccarinelli Saturday. He’s planning to make a move up to heavyweight now and after a few tune-up fights against faded contenders (Hasim Rahman?), should be right in the mix of things. I like this kid; he’s everything that people want in a heavyweight champion. He’s good-looking, always has something to say, calls out the best opponents and, oh yeah – he hits like a truck and makes for exciting fights. I wish him the best at heavyweight; he could very well be in the top ten of the division’s rankings by this time next year.

- Unfortunately, John Ruiz beat Jameel McCline last weekend; that means he’ll be fighting for a title very soon. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing him become the IBF mandatory in place of Povetkin so that we could all see Klitschko put him away for good – Don King won’t let that happen. Expect him to work his way into a WBA mandatory position and fight the winner of the Ruslan Chagaev-Nicolai Valuev rematch early next year. It saddens me that the WBA heavyweight title has become absolutely meaningless. Sigh…

- After his victory over Ricky Hatton, Floyd “Money” Mayweather clearly defined himself as the #1 professional boxer on the planet, pound for pound. But since he’ll be spending the next year or so wrestling and rematching the way faded Oscar De La Hoya (whom he blew out in their first fight), he’s doing nothing to maintain and/or justify his “top dog” status. I believe the winner of the upcoming Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao II bout, if dominant, will have earned the new #1 P4P spot and should be honored as such by the fans/media. In my opinion, quality of opposition and activity should count more than name recognition and dollars earned when it comes to pound for pound status. But hey, that’s just how I see it

- Paul Williams may have lost his welterweight to Carlos Quintana, but he is still a top contender with a bright future. If I were managing Paul, I’d move him up to 154 pounds and go to work. That is the weakest division in boxing and he’d be a stern challenge for any of the titlists there today. Welterweight is owned by Mayweather and Miguel Cotto, there’s no reason to stay there. Williams should move up – if he could learn how to use his reach and extend his punches to maximize their power, he could do some serious damage at junior middleweight.

- All of you people out there bashing today’s heavyweights are really bashing “super heavyweights”. Truthfully, the “real” heavyweights fight at cruiserweight these days. Historically, the best heavyweights of all time generally walked around at about 220 pounds, as do most of today’s top cruisers. I think it should come as no surprise that this division is loaded with talent and is quickly becoming one of the hottest in boxing. Expect that trend to continue as top contenders scramble for the now three vacant alphabet titles that champion David Haye leaves behind upon his leap to heavyweight. I wish HBO would take note of this division because they are robbing their subscribers of some really fantastic matches. Props to Showtime for getting it.

- Speaking of Showtime, I love their boxing coverage and I almost always support them, but I have to call them out on a big screw up. I recently saw an ad for their upcoming Chad Dawson-Glen Johnson, Clinton Woods-Antonio Tarver card in which they referred to the fighters as “the four best light heavyweights in the world”. I laughed out loud when I heard this statement, as did everybody else in my living room. Have you guys ever heard of Bernard Hopkins or Joe Calzaghe? Oh yeah, that’s right – they fight for another network. Seriously folks, stop promoting and just show the fights. Don’t get me wrong, all four of these guys are legitimate top ten 175-pounders and personally I’d love to see a Dawson-Woods match after they both win their respective bouts (which I believe they will), but don’t insult my intelligence by calling them the division’s best. Especially with the two all-time-greats I noted above set to do battle next month for the true, linear championship.

- Anybody claiming that Ruslan Chagaev is the #2 heavyweight right now is full of it. Sam Peter is #2, plain and simple. What has Chagaev done since winning his title over Nicolai Valuev last year? First, he backed out of a unification match with Sultan Ibragimov, citing injury/illness as the cause. He’s probably kicking himself in the ass after seeing Ibragimov get jabbed to death by Klitschko last month, but I digress. Second, he miraculously recovers from his injury/illness and defends his “title” against Matt Skelton in the comforts of Germany. Yep, Matt Skelton. The guy they call the “White Tyson” has done very little to justify his nickname, having never knocked out a notable opponent. Chagaev’s biggest wins are mixed decisions over Vladimir Virchis and Valuev, and a split decision over Ruiz, all of which were in his back yard under his promoter’s control – that’s hardly “Tyson-esque” stuff I my opinion. As I previously alluded to, he has a mandatory rematch with Valuev coming up, which I’m not so sure he’ll win. But if he does, he’ll probably just defend his belt in Germany against second-tier scrubs (there have been rumors about him facing the shot Luan Krasniqi in the near future) and end up having another mandatory rematch, this time against John Ruiz. Either way, he shouldn’t be considered as the division’s #2 unless he someday ventures outside of Germany and dares to face the heavyweight elite. Peter has done way more at this point.

Questions, comments, hate mail – you know what to do:

mike@michael-montero.com

Ciao.

Article posted on 14.03.2008



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