Klitschko/Rahman, Holyfield/Valuev: Holyfield, Rahman Get Unexpected World Title Chances In December - But Has Either Guy Got A Chance Of Winning?

holyfieldby James Slater - There are two world heavyweight title fights taking place in the month of December, one on the 13th in Germany and one the following week, in the unlikely setting of Switzerland. IBF and WBO champ Wladimir Klitschko will be the first of the two champions in action, when he takes on the drafted in Hasim Rahman, and WBA ruler Nikolai Valuev will climb through the ropes on the 20th, when he will take on former four-time heavyweight king Evander Holyfield.

Both Rahman and, even more so, Holyfield, are somewhat lucky to be getting the chances they are this late in their careers, and both guys will enter the ring as the underdog. Has either fighter got a realistic shot at victory?

Let's look at the Klitschko-Rahman fight first..

Rahman, 45-6-2(36) is now 36-years-old and he is over seven years removed from his finest win. Back in April of 2001, "Rock" sensationally KO'd Lennox Lewis in 5 rounds in South Africa to become the heavyweight champion. Since that great night, Rahman has gone 10-4-2 with 1 No-Contest, and he has been stopped three times (albeit one of these stoppages, to Holyfield, coming by way of a bizarre head swelling that some felt came from an intentional butt).
Rahman's reign at the expense of a poorly conditioned Lewis didn't last too long, with the new WBC and IBF champ being smashed to a 4th round KO loss in the immediate rematch. But Rahman did regroup, even becoming a two-time WBC champ by way of an interim win over Monte Barrett, who he out-pointed in August of 2005. Again, Rahman was not to rule for long, however, as he was upset and TKO'd in the 12th round in a rematch with Oleg Maskaev.

That loss, Rahman's most recent, came in August of 2006, and the 36-year-old has won four straight since (with the No-Contest with James Toney, also in a rematch, thrown in). The question, aside from if Rahman has a shot against "Dr. Steel Hammer," is what has he got left? Judging by his struggle of a win against journeyman Zuri Lawrence in November of last year, not too much. Rahman had to dig deep to beat Lawrence, a guy with ZERO KO wins on his record, in the 10th round of a fight that had been close on the cards beforehand. Sure, Rahman will be far more motivated for Klitschko, but if non-puncher Lawrence can trouble and hurt Rahman, what will the stiff-punching Ukrainian do?

Rahman always has a shot because of his great right hand. Combine his dangerous punch with Klitschko's perceived vulnerability, and you can make some kind of a case for a Rahman upset KO win. "Rock" has promised he'll make Klitschko regret having chosen him as the guy to replace the injured Alexander Povetkin. But will he? In a word, NO. He may make things interesting for a few rounds, especially if Wladimir comes out tentative, but ultimately Rahman is going down. Look for Klitschko to take Rahman out inside six rounds.

Valuev-Holyfield now.

Let's face it, there's no way on earth this fight should be taking place. Holyfield, 42-9-2(27) and now aged 46, is in no way worthy of a shot at any title, let alone a world title. Not having fought in well over a year, and having lost then, "The Real Deal" is about as worthy of a world title shot as is Chris Byrd. At least Holyfield wasn't stopped in his last defeat, against Sultan Ibragimov - that fight also being an undeserved world title chance for the former cruiserweight and four-time heavyweight boss. There is a very good chance he will be stopped when he meets the 7'2" colossus, though.

Evander has not beaten a guy since his points win over the forty-something Lou Savarese in June of 2007, but he gets a WBA title fight anyway? How wrong is this! Not only does Holyfield have next to no chance of winning on December 20th, he faces a very serious chance of being hurt. It's too easy to picture the giant effortlessly firing clubbing downward shots at Holyfield's shaven dome, connecting with many, and then using his strength to hold and tie up his challenger as and when he feels like it. Pretty soon, Evander will be all but worn out and the unsightly affair will be too much for real fight fans.

Valuev, despite his massive size, may not be a huge puncher, but he has stopped 34 men, and after all the wars and after all the physical damage Holyfield has been subjected to there is no reason to think this number won't reach 35 come December 20th. The only remaining question is, after being stopped for only the third time in his legendary career, will Holyfield finally walk away from the sport? With this guy you never know for sure!

It won't be at all pretty, especially for Evander Holyfield fans, but if you can bear to watch look for Valuev to get the win around the 9th round - very possible by way of a corner retirement or a timely intervention by the referee.

Article posted on 14.11.2008

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