Progress Report On The Top Heavyweight Prospects

Alexander Povetkin19.03.08 - Paul McCreath: Many of us have grumbled over the past few months about the sad state of the heavyweight division. Not all fans agree with this assessment but I would think that we could all agree that if things are going to get better the future lies with a handful of top prospects from around the world. Today we will take a look back at some of the names that we have come to know as our best bets for serious contention for any of the titles in days to come and analyse their progress over the past months during the period starting in January of 2007.

Are there any savoir types ready to make their move or have these fighters' hopes fizzled out?

Alex Povetkin-20-0-0 with 11 KOs -- By the end of 2006 Alex was already beginning to emerge as the top heavyweight prospect in the world. Since then he has done nothing to disappoint his supporters with 5 more wins, the last three against veteran fringe contender Larry Donald, a win in 10, a 11th round KO of two time belt holder Chris Byrd and finally the 12 round decision over undefeated fellow prospect Eddie Chambers in the final of the IBF elimination tournament.

Povetkin is now firmly established as a top contender and is first in line for a shot at Wlad Klitschko's belt. He may have to wait while Wlad meets his WBO obligations against Tony Thompson but some sort of title shot looks very close. It has been suggested that Alex might decline his chance against Wlad and go for a more winnable title bout with one of the other belt holders. This would take longer due to the mandatory obligations of the other champs but might still be Povetkin's best chance of winning a belt, though likely not until 2009.Alex is still the most promising of all the young guns.

Alex Dimitrenko-27-0-0 with 17 KOs -- Alex is beginning to look more like a hype job than a top prospect. This former world amateur champ has had only 3 fights in the last 15 months. Injuries have played a part in that but are not the sole reason for his inactivity. After waiting many months for Alex to finally step up we saw him meet veteran fringe contender Timo Hoffman last November in his first serious test. Hoffman is the only fighter to ever go 12 rounds with Vitali Klitschko and also has a 12 round draw with Luan Krasniqi. He figured to be a good test and he was but Alex came through with a 12th round KO. On paper this looks good but the fight was a messy one and Dimitrenko came under a lot of criticism for his many fouls and unimpressive display. This was followed by Alex pulling out of a match that Universum tried to set up with Krasniqi for the European title. This decision was said to be money related. Perhaps we could see an end to the relationship with Universum soon since the arrangement does not seem to be working too well at the moment. If Alex is going to amount to anything he has to stay active and move up again to challenge a rated fighter in the near future.

Chris Arreola-23-0-0 with 21 KOs -- Chris has fought and won 5 times in the time frame we are looking at. He has not yet faced a name fighter but is gradually emerging as the top American heavyweight prospect with plenty of knockout power. Last time out in February Arreola stopped veteran trial horse Cliff Couser in the first round. Couser had stopped fringe contender Monte Barrett in two rounds last July before being stopped in the same round in the rematch in December. There has been talk of matching Arreola with David Tua and Hasim Rahman but nothing came of those plans. Rahman is still a possibility as is Chazz Witherspoon, another undefeated prospect. It looks like this will be the year for Chris to make his move. If he can keep his weight under control he should do well.

Kevin Johnson-18-0-1 with 6 KOs - Kevin is a big lad with perhaps the second best jab in the division but a great reluctance to throw any other punches. The draw came early in his career against Timor Ibragimov, a bit of an upset at the time. His best win came last August when he outpointed Damian Wills, 21-1-1 at the time. Wills had lost only to Arreola on a 7 round KO before this. Kevin has added 5 wins since January of 2007 but they have come mainly against soft opposition. Unless he learns to throw more punches and steps up his competition he may wind up as one of those fighters with a great won and lost record that nobody knows.

Odlanier Solis-8-0-0 with 5 KOs -- Odlanier has had all his pro fights since the start of 2007 so obviously he is rated higher today than he was then. This former Olympic and world amateur champ is making steady and fast progress but there are some issues, mainly his weight and conditioning. As late as 2003 he was at 200 pounds. Today he comes in around 246. He defeated Cisse Salif over 8 rounds last week and has clearly shown he has tons of ability. He seems ready to try some name opponents any time now but will his size limit his progress? He is still a top prospect who should soon give us the answers to our doubts.

Eddie Chambers-30-1-0 with 16 KOs --In recent months we have seen Eddie go from America's top heavyweight prospect to a ranked contender before crashing to defeat in an uninspired performance against Alex Povetkin. Even in his earlier victory over Calvin Brock he showed a reluctance to let his hands go and that proved decisive against Alex. Yet he has shown lots of ability. Some have suggested he would be better off to improve his conditioning, reduce his weight to 200 pounds and fight at cruiserweight. He may still have a future but it is difficult to look at him as a heavyweight prospect now.

Oleg Platov-26-1-0 with 22 KOs and 1 NC--Oleg has fought only 4 times since January of 2007 but he finally stepped up against Danny Williams last December. After a good first round things began to go down hill. Oleg was cut, banged around quite a bit and the fight was stopped and declared a no contest in the 4th round, perhaps saving Platov from a KO loss. Oleg either needs more seasoning or he has reached his limits. I suspect he will take a few tune-up type fights before taking another try late in the year against another name fighter. Although Oleg is a big puncher his limited technical skills probably mean he won't go much farther.

That pretty much covers the names of the most likely hopes in the division. There could be some dark horse emerge of course and we still have some good looking lads a little further down the line who would be a year or two away. It is mostly a mixed bag as you can see. There is hope for improvement but we are not exactly overloaded with young talent. Perhaps the best hope for a new face is David Haye who is about to move up from cruiser to heavyweight. I can hardly wait!

Article posted on 19.03.2008

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