With Povetkin Injured, Who Will Wladimir Klitschko Face In December?

by James Slater - As we all know, unbeaten Russian contender Alexander Povetkin is out as Wladmir Klitschko's December 13th opponent. However, Shelley Finkel, in talking to Sky Sports, has made it clear that "Dr. Steel Hammer" still hopes to be fighting on the 13th, and is now looking for a suitable replacement challenger. "Wladimir is going to fight," Finkel said. "We'll go down the rankings and try to find a suitable replacement. We'll explore all of our options.."

So, who is a likely candidate to land the big opportunity/early Christmas present? Apparently, Hasim Rahman and Oleg Maskaev are in the frame, as are Sultan Ibragimov, James Toney, Eddie Chambers and Andrew Golota. The question is, would the fans be happy seeing the IBF and WBO champ against any of these guys? Fan tolerance would have to be higher than usual, as getting a late replacement can never be expected to result in a super fight, and we should be somewhat pleased that Klistchko is intending to fight at all, as opposed to simply scrapping the date altogether.

As such, Klitschko is perhaps entitled to a relatively easy (on paper, anyway) voluntary defence so as to keep busy. And with top contenders Chris Arreola and Alexander Dimitrenko unavailable due to other commitments (against Travis Walker and Luan Krasniqi, respectively), it looks like it will be one of the lesser rated fighters listed above who will wind up in the ring with Wladimir if he does indeed box in December. WBA champion Nikolai Valuev will not be fighting Klitschko in an intriguing unification, either - at least not this year. According to the promoters such a fight would take more than two months to get ready.

So, who should face Wladimir next? A Klitschko-Toney fight would be interesting, probably the most interesting of the possible matches. No-one really wants to see Klitschko beat up on poor old Oleg Maskaev, a rematch with Sultan Inbragimov would be just plain awful and Andrew Golota has a date with Ray Austin. That leaves just Eddie Chambers, Hasim Rahman and Toney from the list. A Klitschko-Chambers fight would also be of some interest, but "Fast" Eddie lost to Povetkin and needs further confidence builders before he's ready for a world title fight. And "Rock" Rahman showed no confidence whatsoever in losing and then having the result changed to a No-Contest against "Lights Out." Toney, on the other hand, is a guy who never lacks for confidence.

Also, the now 40-year-old Toney has called both Klitschko brothers out in the past. Maybe terms can be reached and the all-time great will get another shot at the heavyweight championship. I'm not saying Toney would beat Wladimir, but it figures he wouldn't get blown away either. From the short list of possible Povetkin replacements, "Lights Out" is easily the most attractive.

Article posted on 26.10.2008

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