Ruslan Chagaev Plans To Return Next Year - Can "The White Tyson" Win Another Belt?

by James Slater - Before he took a one sided beating at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko back in June, a number of shrewd observers looked at Kazakhstan's Ruslan Chagaev as perhaps the best heavyweight out there. Basing this opinion primarily on the 30-year-old's excellent amateur career, these judges felt "The White Tyson" was the best of the lot, technically speaking..

But even before his 10th-round retirement loss to "Dr. Steel Hammer" things began to go bad for southpaw Chagaev. Bouts of illness (reportedly with hepatitis B), injuries and layoffs served to hinder the then unbeaten WBA title holder (title never lost in the ring - only due to the WBA's decision to reduce him from "Champion in Recess" to number-one contender in July of this year, after well over a year of inactivity), and the hammering at the hands of Klitschko made some people feel they'd perhaps seen the last of Chagaev, 25-1-1(17). But no, he is reportedly planning a return to the ring for some time early next year.

Also, according to Universum, Chagaev's promoters, the former champ will have a new trainer in Magomed Schaburow in his corner when he does so. But can the 6'1" lefty make a success of his comeback, and can he get his hands on another world title?

A rematch with Wladimir Klitschko would be about as pointless as a fight with Vitali. No way, even with a new coach, would Chagaev be able to beat either brother, even if he were to get the unlikely opportunity. But Chagaev would certainly have to be given a great shot at beating current WBA champ Nikolai Valuev, after having done so once before. Indeed, the two men were supposed to fight a return in the summer, only for Chagaev's ongoing problem with Hepatitis to convince Valuev not to go ahead with the rematch.

Looking at things realistically, Chagaev's best chance of once again becoming a heavyweight belt holder would be in a rematch with the Russian giant he has already out-pointed. But there are a number of problems: Valuev first must get past David Haye in November, the winner of that fight must then face John Ruiz, and also, after having said no thanks to a second fight with Chagaev due to his Hepatitis problem, why would Valuev agree to a second fight in the future? And will the eventual Valuev/Haye/Ruiz winner want to face Chagaev? Until Chagaev can get a clean bill of health that everyone is happy with, his chances of landing the long awaited rematch with Valuev look mighty slim, and his chances of becoming a two-time champ look pretty much the same.

It's often hard for a former champion to come back after his first stoppage defeat, especially if it was a brutally one sided loss. Coming back to anywhere near the top of his division looks set to be even harder for 30-year-old Ruslan Chagaev.

Article posted on 13.09.2009

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