Heavyweights: Who's The Champ

07.08.05 - By Jim Amato: I miss Lennox Lewis. I never really liked him so obviously I was not a fan. Still I find myself missing his presence among today's heavyweights. Why? Simple, with Lennox you knew who the real champion was. No ands, ifs or buts about it. When Lennox did briefly lend his title to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, he stopped both in rematches to regain his crown.. He did not need the WBA's blessing as their champion. Did anyone really think that John Ruiz would beat him?

Lennox would become a true linear champion when he stopped Shannon Briggs. You see Shannon had defeated George Foreman who had defeated Michael Moorer who had defeated Evander Holyfield. Evander had originally won the crown by stopping Buster Douglas. This was the Buster Douglas, who had upset the undisputed heavyweight king Mike Tyson in Tokyo. After Evander beat Douglas he would lose the title to Riddick Bowe. He would regain the crown in the infamous "Fan Man" bout.

Lennox first won title recognition by the W.B.C. after he halted the dangerous Razor Ruddock in two rounds. Then newly crowned champion Riddick Bowe remembered how Lennox had battered him into submission in the 1988 Olympic games and refused to fight Lennox. Therefore the W.B.C. decided to name Lewis as their champion. Still Lennox did not join the true championship line until he beat Shannon Briggs.

Lennox is retired now and although I miss his presence on the heavyweight scene I hope he remains retired. I'm not sure where Lennox will end up among the all time greats but you have to give him his due. He turned back the challenges of Holyfield, Tyson, Tua and yes even Vitali. He was the best heavyweight of his era.

Now the W.B.C and the respected Ring Magazine want us to believe that Vitali Klitschko is the new "real" champion. Vitali may be the best heavyweight out there but does he really have a clear cut claim to the championship? Let's see IBF titleholder Chris Byrd holds a win over Vitali that has not been reversed by Vitali but it was avenged by Vitali's little brother Wladimir. At one time Wladimir was considered the heir apparent to Lewis. He was more highly regarded then Vitali at the time and even held the lightly regarded W.B.O. title. Corrie Sanders came along separated Wladimir from his title in less then two rounds. Now Vitali became the avenging brother as he halted Sanders in a victory that led Ring Magazine to recognize him as champion.

What about W.B.O. titleholder Lamon Brewster's claim? He upset Wladimir who had beaten Byrd who in turn had defeated Vitali. Andrew Golota lost on points to WBA titleholder John Ruiz and had drew with IBF king, Chris Byrd. The two verdicts were very dubious decisions. Brewster in turn recently clocked Golota in one round. Hmmm...Very impressive. Does
Lamon have grounds for a legitimate claim?

John Ruiz has he held the WBA title on and off for several years. Roy Jones Jr. moved up in weight and boxed John's ears off to win the title. Roy relinquished the title to go back to the light heavyweight division. Ruiz reclaimed the title by defeating former W.B.C. titleholder Hasim Rahman. Then James Toney out slicked and out punched Ruiz to take the title. It was soon discovered that Toney had an illegal substance in his blood stream and the bout was declared a No Contest thus Ruiz could not lose his title if the fight in theory had not been fought. James Toney could have eaten a box of Ex-Lax before the fight and beaten John. He just out classed him. Still rules are rules and Ruiz still has a piece of the heavyweight pie.

Are we all confused? I know I am. It would be great if the promoters could put together a tourney in which the four title claimants box off to see who is the undisputed champion. It was not that long ago that Mike Tyson defeated WBC champion Trevor Berbick, WBA champ Bonecrusher Smith and IBF titleholder Tony Tucker, (the WBO was not a factor then) to evolve as the undisputed champion. What is the reason for not trying to unify the titles?

In the meantime, the division has some bouts coming up that could alter the pecking order in the heavyweight ratings. Chris Byrd is to defend his IBF crown against DaVarryl Williamson. Yes, the same Williamson who was blasted out by Joe Mesi in less then a round and has also lost a technical decision to Wladimir Klitschko. Now, Wladimir will take on the
murderous punching and undefeated Sam Peter. This is a dangerous fight for Wladimir in regards to his frail chin. Is Sam Peter over hyped? We'll see. I remember a heavyweight in late sixties and early seventies who steam rolled to an impressive 24-0 record , all wins by KO. Among his victims were former contenders Zora Folley and Cleveland Williams. Then they put him in with a skillful and polished heavyweight named Jerry Quarry and he was exposed as a mere mortal in the sixth round. His name was Mac Foster and although he ended up having a respectable career he never lived up to that early promise.

Vitali Klitschko was to have fought the winner of the upcoming bout between Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett. He may or may not. It is now rumored that Vitali wants to meet highly regarded and undefeated Calvin Brock. Time will tell how that one plays out.

WBO champ Lamon Brewster will take his act to Europe to meet a tough battler with the last name of Krasniqi, who has a KO victory over Lance "Goofi " Whitaker. James Toney will return to be tested by Dominick Guinn. Two other top prospects Sergei Liakhovich and Owen Beck will meet soon in an important bout.

When the smoke clears hopefully we will be on our way to finding out who is the real champion of the world. Someday...

Article posted on 07.08.2005

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