Heavyweight Jungle is Full of Bluffs

23.02.05 - By Scoop Malinowski: Here we are. We're in the wackiest, most violent place in all of sports - the heavyweight jungle. It's a region where almost anything goes, anything can be said, but where there is only one ruling dominant king. Who is the real King of The Heavyweight Jungle today? Let's try to figure it out.

Hey, look over there, it's Chris Byrd, he's trying to RUN AWAY from a multi-million dollar payday which has been arranged by HBO and Don King. Byrd is apparently totally reluctant to step in a ring with Wladimir Klitschko in Germany in April. Is that the behavior of a king of the jungle? Or a pretender? Byrd says he's pushing for a much less dangerous and less interesting title defense against Monte Barrett.

Byrd is using many excuses to evade Klitschko - he says Klitschko doesn't deserve it, Germany is an unfair place to fight, the money is not enough, and that Monte Barrett - who was destroyed by Wladimir in London a few years ago - deserves the shot. But it's questionable if Byrd even deserves to be IBF champ after his performances against Fres Oquendo and Andrew Golota. But if Byrd wants to prove Klitschko doesn't deserve it, why not get in there and prove it?

Byrd's ace in the hole in the heavyweight jungle is that he keeps claiming to have a desire to fight WBC champ Vitali Klitschko. But Byrd rarely has put any public pressure on King or Vitali to force their much-anticipated rematch. It looks a lot more like public posturing from Byrd, than a real burning desire to fight Vitali. And it appears that Byrd is becoming a modern day version of Floyd Patterson - one of the most protected heavyweight champions in history.

Let's take a look at what the IBF rankings say:

IBF Heavyweights
1. Vacant (This "vacant" nonsense has to change Mrs. Muhammad - it appears like office space was never paid or something)
2. Hasim Rahman (Scheduled to fight Vitali Klitschko in May)
3. Mount Whitaker (Scheduled to fight Luan Kransiqi)
4. James Toney (Set to fight Ruiz)
5. Jameel McCline (Scheduled to fight Calvin Brock)
6. Wladimir Klitschko (schedule FREE and OPEN)

Klitschko is a legit opponent for Byrd according to the rankings, not to mention he would attract the most money for Byrd, he already beat Byrd once, and Klitschko is offering a rematch clause!

So Chris Byrd's latest actions seem to disqualify him from top dog, alpha-male status. Instead Byrd is starting to look more like a vulture or a bird scavenging for easier pickins, not the King of the Heavyweight Jungle, who readily accepts the challenge of all-comers.

Now, let's wade through another dense thicket of bluffery in this heavyweight jungle. Oh, look over there, it's The Quiet Man. Jawny Ruiz, I mean Johnny Ruiz is called a champion by many people because Kirk Johnson low-blowed the title away to Ruiz after Roy Jones vacated it rather than face Byrd. Ruiz has survived in the jungle because he boa constrictored Hasim Rahman in a dreadful holdfest, pulled out a come-from-behind KO victory over Oquendo and then somehow stole (???) a rotten decision from Golota.

Ruiz seems to have helped maintain his shaky status in the heavyweight jungle with some crafty bluffing as well. Ruiz only challenges the so-called heir-apparent King of the Jungle Vitali Klitschko via phony open letters which are released to the media when he knows Vitali is signed for other fights. Ruiz's publicist released that open letter the week before Danny Williams, in what appeared to be an attempt to look brave had Vitali lost to Williams. Then we never heard a damn peep from Ruiz about challenging Vitali...until his latest publicity stunt letter two weeks ago where Ruiz self-proclaimed himself to be numero uno. But my question is this: Where was The Quiet Man when he knew Vitali had no fights on the schedule? Why wasn't the Quiet Man calling out Vitali in Las Vegas after Vitali slaughtered Williams, like Tarver did to Jones, like Clay did to Liston? Why wasn't Ruiz pressuring King to make the fight with Vitali?

And mosts curious of all: Why didn't Ruiz demand - in another open letter or whatever - that King force a Klitschko-Ruiz fight. Instead Ruiz sat by quietly - like a lower-level employee - and let King arrange Klitschko vs. Rahman. Ruiz grappled his way to a win over Rahman two years ago, you'd think he'd really want to fight Vitali before Rahman got the chance. But it looks pretty clear that Ruiz really doesn't want to fight Vitali. It looks like he's feigning that intent through well-times press releases. The truth is apparent isn't it?

In the heavyweight jungle their are roaring lions, bad ass hippos and many more dangerous fighters. But could a quiet octopus ever really be the king?

The Heavyweight Jungle eventually determines it's king by the process called survival of the fittest. It's the greatest, most ultimate arena in all of sports, inhabited by the greatest and bravest athletes in all the world. Speaking of courage and bravery, hey look over there, it's James Toney. Ain't no one can raise much question about this warrior. But he's been acting a little oddly and inconsistently lately too. If you recall, James Toney relentlessly savaged Vitali in the media for all of 2004, fronting an intimidating eagerness to expose either Klitschko brother, continuously proclaiming how he'd destroy the giant Frankenstein, blah, blah.

But the astute observer has to wonder if James Toney really believes he can destroy Vitali in a fashion that he barely did Jirov. To the contrary, I believe Toney actually senses his destruction to Vitali is inevitable. And after all the sh** he talked in the media, if Toney were to have his lights turned out by Vitali, this would be devastating to Toney. It would destroy his name, annihilate his street credibility and perhaps worst of all ruin his future earning power in the heavyweight division.

Also it should be noted that Toney had to declare bankruptcy last year and you have to consider what a Sanders or Williams-like loss to Klitschko would do to his career, which is obviously in the swan song. But most curious of all regarding Toney fighting Vitali was how at the end of last year, Toney was mysteriously removed from the WBC mandatory position to fight Vitali. Hasim Rahman somehow jumped into the top slot over Toney (wonder how?). The bizarre thing about this was why Toney did not complain or speak out even once about this injustice. Toney had a WBC title shot stolen from him and didn't say a word. Now Toney has somehow jumped to No. 1 in the WBA and will fight Ruiz, who he once called a "tomato can with arms." Toney-Ruiz is a lot less of a money fight than Klitschko-Toney, which Toney told us over and over would have been an easy victory for him.

Vitali Klitschko, the WBC champ and universally acclaimed current king of the Heavyweight Jungle has agreed to face Hasim Rahman in New York in May. Most pundits say Rahman is the most dangerous threat to King Vitali and with Rock's powerful right hand, they're all pretty accurate - Rock is still a force to reckon with. But what is very interesting is have you noticed how King Vitali did not try to dodge this fight or make excuses to fight a safer or less dangerous opponent? King Vitali has accepted the dangerous challenge of Rahman like the real King of the Jungle, not like some phony pretender. Both Rahman and Vitali are confident in their chances and surely the survivor of this high-stakes showdown will be the undisputed and undeniable King of the Heavyweight Jungle. No matter what Chris Byrd says in any website interview or what John Ruiz's publicist writes up in one of his bogus press releases.

Aaahh, the Heavyweight Jungle is a wild and wacky place. For all the tough talk and bluffing and posturing there can be only one King. There is only one ruler amid all the chaos, amid all the pretenders, amid all the deceptions and all the trickerations. And if you pay attention and watch closely, we can pretty much tell who truly is right now the King of the Heavyweight Jungle.

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Article posted on 23.02.2005

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