By Paul McCreath: Please note before you go any further that I am not asking if Oleg deserves this title shot. We all know how most fans feel about that. Maskaev lost his WBC title belt when he was KOd in 6 rounds about a year ago by Sam Peter. Since then Peter lost the belt when stopped in 8 rounds by Vitali last October then was further embarrassed when outpointed by Eddie Chambers a few days ago. In the meantime Oleg outpointed old trial horse Robert Hawkins in September and recently stopped midwest club fighter Ron Boruff in the first round. These developments hardly qualify Maskaev as a mandatory challenger yet that is what the WBC are calling him..
So why is Maskaev the mandatory? To make a long story short this goes back to when Oleg was the WBC champ. He and the WBC have had a longstanding dispute over several issues but mainly how he has been treated by the sanctioning body regarding whom he had to fight first, Peter or Vitali, and what the percentage of the purse he received should be. He had to settle for 55% against Sam Peter instead of the usual 60% that goes to the belt holder. He had to fight Peter first instead of Vitali who would have been a much bigger payday. In order to avoid another risky lawsuit like the one that nearly bankrupted this organization a few years ago that involved Roy Jones and Graciano Rocchigiani, an agreement was reached to make Maskaev the mandatory challenger in order to make this problem go away. It is not right but it is reality.
Vitali has several choices in this matter.He can follow the dictates of the WBC and fight Maskaev. This would be considered a fairly low risk fight by most experts but not as big a payday as one with the Chagaev-Valuev winner or perhaps David Haye or Chris Arreola if he gets by Jameel McCline. Vitali would rather take the biggest fight he can get and avoid the risk of meeting Maskaev who let's face it would have at least a puncher's chance. I am sure that he realizes that at nearly 38 years of age and with sometimes questionable health every fight could be his last. He would like to make as much money as he can while he can and who can blame him for that?
Vitali has decided instead of going ahead with the Maskaev bout to take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The problem with that is that most of their decisions take from 6 to 12 months although sometimes when necessary they can move faster.At any rate Vitali will have to wait a period of time for a decision and who knows what that decision might be? The WBC rules may be crazy but they seem to be following them and Vitali was only too happy to accept them when it was to his advantage. You can't have it both ways. Regardless of what the decision might be Klitschko will be sitting and waiting and making no money in the meantime.
Vitali could of course just give up the WBC title and fight whoever he wants. If he could get the Chagaev-Valuev winner he would probably have a title again but that might be difficult to arrange if he didn't have his own title to bring to the negotiating table. He would also be looking at a smaller piece of the purse and maybe no part of the promotion itself. That doesn't sound like a very good idea. He can make more money if K-2 promotes.
When you consider that all of the fighters that Vitali would prefer to meet are unlikely to be available until the fall due to previously arranged fights why not just fight Maskaev and get it over with? He would then have a full year to do what he likes before his next mandatory is due.
Maskaev may be a poor mandatory but in Russia they would draw well and the purse would be sizeable. If Oleg is that bad why not take the easy money? This fight would not be of much interest in North America but who cares? America is not very interested at the moment in any heavyweight fight not involving Chris Arreola.
When you consider the many millions that Vitali is passing up by not taking this fight now I think he is making a mistake. He may have to fight Oleg anyway or be stripped of his title. One other thing to think about is that Maskaev is still ranked #7 by two alphabet bodies and #14 by ESB so he is not a total dud by any means. Vitali should just take the fight and the money and save himself a lot of trouble.