State of Heavyweight Boxing

26.02.05 - By JE - Despite the oft-repeated moaning about the supposedly sad state of heavyweight boxing, today's crop of heavyweight boxers are poised to rise to a credible level – a level equal to or better than most of the eras of the last century. The current "champions," Vitali Klitschko (WBC); Chris Byrd (IBF); John Ruiz (WBA); and Lamon Brewster (WBO) can only be described at this point as contenders.

Hopefully, this muddle will be cleared with some kind of tournament, though promotional considerations make this difficult at best.

Klitschko appears to be the best of the lot but it will take wins over Byrd (especially since Klitschko's infamous "no-mas" in their WBO bout) and the others to close the loop. Such a closing of the loop is problematic when we add the name of Wladimir Klitschko to the mix -- as he is likely the next contender for Byrd's title. A Wladimir Klitschko victory would certainly mean that no complete unification would take place inasmuch as the brothers Klitschko will never fight one another. Vitali Klitschko next faces perhaps the number two man in the division today, former champion Hasim Rahman. This is no give-me. An upset is possible, but Rahman's chin may let him down again.

Byrd is a capable, light-hitting, smallish stylist. He is not quite as slippery as he was just a few years ago. More importantly, he has recently retained his title with a highly questionable win over Fres Oquendo, and an equally debatable draw with Andrew Golota. Don't be surprised if W. Klitschko once again pounds on Byrd in a mismatch.

John Ruiz is every promoter's nightmare. He does enough to win, but his bouts are incredibly hard to watch. He mauls, he holds, he does everything he can to lull an audience to sleep. I agree with him on one point, however, we need one champion. Fortunately, if his proposed bout with James Toney comes to fruition, that one champion won't be a guy named Ruiz.

Lamon Brewster gets into the mix only because of his victory over Wladimir Klitschko. His first title defense, a 12-round fiasco over unheralded and only semi-talented Kali Meehan, left no one with the feeling that he will be the future of the division. He has to do better in his upcoming defense against Andrew Golota or he'll be a former champion in short order.

Other possible players in the mix, such as prospect Samuel Peter, aging though dangerous Corrie Sanders, limited but will Matt Skelton will make heavyweight interesting if not the hottest of the boxing divisions.

The heavyweights are much better than they have been credit for being and reducing the title-holders to one will greatly increase the value of the title, “champion,” and help focus the public at-large on boxing’s one-time premiere attraction.

Read more by JE at his blog:

Article posted on 26.02.2005

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