Toney reappears, Calzaghe postpones and Ruiz (somehow) gets a title shot…

By César Pancorvo: -Knock outs in the late rounds are usually an indication that the fight was entertaining. That was not the case, this time, for Wladimir Klitschko. After dominating for eleven tedious rounds, Klitschko unleashed his power and knocked out Tony Thompson, Top10 contender who was also one of the best contenders that America has to offer right now. Klitschko KO. It didn’t matter.. There was some approval, but the critics didn’t cease…The Unified Champion’s first defense left all of us with a sour taste. After a year of decreasing popularity, Klitschko must hope that he can sign, soon, his next defense against Alexander Povetkin, and also that he can give the fans a good fight and win in exciting fashion.

While Klitschko was doing that, James Toney was ending his preparations for the rematch against Hasim Rahman. Most, including me, thought that Rahman would win, basing our predictions on their performances from the first fight and also in Toney’s inactivity and age. But no, we were wrong. James Toney, an artist of boxing, a magician, was able to do what nobody expected…He reappeared, after more than a year, after that mediocre performance against Batchelder, and TKOed Rahman. The conditions of it, however, were controversial: Rahman, apparently, quit because his vision was obstructed. In any other case, the fight should have been a no-contest.

Toney is out of shape, is fat, is old, he has cheated twice, his stamina is deteriorated; he is what we hate about the Heavyweight division, but somehow he makes it exciting with his personality and his sophisticated fighting style –the style of a veteran who knows all the tricks. In Spanish, there is a common saying: “Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo”. It means that the devil knows a lot, but not because he is the devil. He knows a lot because he is old. That is, many times, what happens to veteran fighters, like James Toney. Wisdom comes with experience, and this man, who won the Middleweight title back in 1991, has a lot.

However, the win over Rahman didn’t make Toney a Top10 contender. And if we check The Ring’s Top10 ratings (for July 20), we can notice that the list is conformed by seven men born in the former Soviet Union, one man from Africa and two Latinos. That would be a surrealist thought in the 1950s.

Boxing is ironic, paradoxical. Rahman, in the rematch of a fight were he was robbed, was TKOed by a man who, in theory, is feather fisted. Now, Joe Calzaghe decides to duck Kelly Pavlik and fight a shot Roy Jones. And Bernard Hopkins, who lost to Calzaghe, agrees to fight Pavlik! And, to make things even worse, Calzaghe has injured his hand and the fight against Jones will be postponed until November.

One more thing: imagine that Pavlik, without vacating belts and keeping the Middleweight lineal title in his hands, defeats Bernard Hopkins and becomes Light Heavyweight Champion. Then, in May 2009, fights Joe Calzaghe at 168, wins and becomes Super Middleweight Champion: that would make that young man, Pavlik, at 27 years old, a simultaneous three division Champion –atypical accomplishment done just once in history by Henry “Hurricane Hank” Armstrong, possibly the greatest pugilist ever.

-John Ruiz should share his rare method of getting undeserved title shots. He loses his belt. Then, after one year vacations, he fights for an eliminator and loses again. Then he spends another year in vacations, but doesn’t lose his ranking. Later, he accomplishes his first win after three years spent on vacations, losing fights or getting no-contests against former middleweights. To the sanctioning body, the fact that his first win since Andrew Golota (in November 2004) is Otis Tisdale (in October 2007) didn’t matter. He was still ranked and, suddenly, a win over Jameel McCline was enough to secure him a title shot. It didn’t matter that McCline had lost his two previous bouts. And, three years later, we are going to have one of the most unnecessary heavyweight rematches: Valuev-Ruiz II. Incredible!

Article posted on 22.07.2008

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