Vitali Klitschko - Who's Next?

klitschkoby James Slater, photo by Pavel Terekhov -- click here to view huge Klitschko-Gomez photo gallery -- WBC heavyweight king Vitali Klitschko got rid of one of his mandatory title challengers last night in Germany, as he battered a by all accounts disappointing Juan Carlos Gomez in an even more disappointing fight. Yet the WBC want "Dr. Iron Fist" to meet another mandatory contender next. Former champ Oleg Maskaev is the fighter, and the WBC want Klitschko to defend against him before he even thinks about boxing anyone else.

As has been reported, the 37-year-old champ and his team have already protested the organisation's demand, and Vitali has spoken frequently about how a fight against Maskaev does absolutely nothing for him or the paying fans. The question is, what will happen now? Will the WBC dig their heels in and threaten to strip Klitschko if he does not play ball? Or will Vitali get the fight he says he really wants next, one against Nikolai Valuev?

In truth, neither fight is that attractive.. Yes, Klitschko-Valuev would be somewhat interesting due to the sheer size of Valuev and the ability he has thus far shown in avoiding being KO'd (some fans would likely get a thrill just from seeing the 7'0" behemoth crashing to the mat, and against Klitchko this result is a real possibility). Also, a unification of the titles is never a bad thing, and if Klitschko were to beat Valuev we would be one step nearer to the closest thing we are going to get to a unified champ while the two brothers are boxing. Add all this up, and a Klitschko-Valuev fight looks more appealing than a Klitschko-Maskaev clash.

What we really want to see, though, is Klitschko - either one - taking on brash, exciting and powerful former cruiserweight champ David Haye. For his part, Haye has shown a willingness to face either brother, and he is convinced he can beat both. The fans are divided as to whether or not he's right in his thinking, but all agree that it sure would be fun finding out. And, by all accounts (I'll have to wait for a You-Tube viewing of the fight to make my own mind up) last night's fight was not fun at all.

Indeed, judging by the comments of a number of fight fans, there is a concern about how many more dull contests the most important weight class in boxing can stand. Without any doubt, win or lose, "The Hayemaker" will not be involved in a dull fight when or if he steps in with Dr's Steel Hammer or Iron Fist.

It will be a shame if boxing politics prevent Vitali Klitschko from fighting whoever he and his fans feel are the best opponents out there, and if the WBC won't budge this may be what happens. Vitali wants Valuev next, as he again said last night, and he has also shown much interest in facing Haye if younger brother Wladimir does not. In showing he wants the best fights available, when he could instead opt for the easy ones, Vitali deserves credit. Now, will the governing body Vitali is the champion of allow him to do the right thing?

Article posted on 23.03.2009

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