Who Should Be Wladimir Klitschko’s Next Opponent?

Wladimir KlitschkoBy Cesar Pancorvo – After performing like I expected and defeating Maskaev, Sam Peter has now erased one of the major arguments of his haters, who used to say that he “has never stopped a top contender”. It wasn’t a Mike Tyson knockout, but Peter was able to hurt Oleg Maskaev and make the referee stop the fight. It was obvious that this would happen, and now Peter has been rated as the second best Heavyweight in the world. The number one is Klitschko, obviously.

I debate that ranking; Peter should be ranked third and not second, mainly because there is a better heavyweight than him: Ruslan Chagaev, who has a superior resume with wins over Vladimir Virchis, John Ruiz and Nikolay Valuev, and a recent lackluster win over fringe contender Matt Skelton. That is better than wins over an older, fat James Toney, old Jameel McCline and an aged/inactive Oleg Maskaev. However, Peter has done more in the last few months, so I’ll try to be fair: Chagaev has done more if you judge the last two years, but Peter has done more in the last 6 months. Boxing fans have short memory.

If you ask me the question “Who should Wladimir Klitschko fight next?”, I would say Ruslan Chagaev. He has done more than Peter to deserve a title shot and he also hasn’t lost already against Klitschko. Peter is a road that Klitschko has already crossed. It is true that he has a new style, but I think he would only do worse this time –he presents more problems to Klitschko as an explosive slugger. (I also didn’t like his punching technique, in his last fight, and also the fact that his stamina is terrible).

Chagaev and Peter are not Klitschko’s only adversaries, Nikolay Valuev has returned to the scene with a regular win over Liakhovich, and seeing a Klitschko-Valuev bout would be interesting due to the Russian’s size –which makes everyone look bad in the ring, and is also something Klitschko has never seen– but would be probably won by Wladimir. Chagaev will have to fight Valuev sooner or later and that can be a sort of eliminator to see who really deserves a match against Klitschko, who would kill two birds with one shot.

Another one that deserves a fight is Alexander Povetkin, whose fulgurant career now has led him to a title shot. Klitschko-Povetkin will happen later this year, probably. First, Wladimir will take an easy fight and confront Tony Thompson, his WBO mandatory. He is trying to look impressive after the monotonous Ibragimov fight, and Thompson is the right candidate for that. But be careful, Wlad, because easy fights are now your specialty.

One more man has appeared last week showing that he could be a rival. David Haye hasn’t cleaned the Cruiserweight division –not until he beats Cunningham– but has beaten some of the best, and also once defeated a heavyweight fringe contender. He defeated Tomasz Bonin with so much ease that it indicates me that he would not have excessive trouble against people like Rahman, Chambers or Brock. Haye can become a heavyweight contender and, therefore, a competent challenger of Wlad Klitschko’s title.

Article posted on 14.03.2008

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