Heavyweight picture clearing up...sort of

18.08.05 - By Michael Montero: We are coming up on the forth quarter of 2005, and to say that the heavyweight scene has been less than spectacular so far this year is an understatement. I guess a more accurate description would be that it’s been mostly garbage! If I had to pick a “highlight” it would be Lamon Brewster’s destruction of Andrew Golota back on May 21st – right in front of thousands of screaming Poles in Golota’s adopted hometown of Chicago. After months of uncertainty, bickering and waiting - things are finally starting to clear up for an action packed year end with the heavies. Of course, there are a few fights coming up that nobody cares about, and a few guys still sitting around doing nothing. Let’s review:

Ray Mercer vs. Shannon Briggs (08/26 Hollywood, FL)
Yawn. Is anybody out there actually excited to see this fight? Predictions – let’s see - well Briggs is 11 years younger, 3 inches taller, and has a 3 inch reach advantage. So I favor him with a win via decision. The win will probably move him up into the top ten in one of the alphabet groups, which is scary. NOTE: Jameel McCline also fights on this card, against a guy you’ve never heard of, I’m not even going to break that one down.

Serguei Lyakhovic vs. Owen Beck (09/03 Cleveland, OH)
I will admit that I am at least slightly interested in this one. Lyakhovic is coming off a decision victory over the once heavily regarded Dominick Guinn, while Beck is coming off a ninth round TKO loss to Monte Barrett back in February. The winner of this one does genuinely deserve a top ten ranking, in my opinion anyway. These guys match up pretty much the same – both are the same age, and similar in size – and neither are considered very powerful punchers (combining for only 32 KOs with 48 total fights between them). I like Lyakhovic by late stoppage – if Monte Barrett could hurt Beck than I believe Serguei can as well.

Wladimir Klitshcko vs. Samuel Peter (09/24 Atlantic City, NJ)
Everybody’s anticipating this one! The winner is an automatic mandatory in the IBF/WBO. Two big punchers trying to prove themselves – one is a guy trying to prove that he is the next big thing – the other is trying to prove that his recent losses are behind him and he’s ready to live up to his potential. Peter has never fought anybody at this level, and Klitschko hasn’t beaten anybody at this level in years. There’s a lot at stake here for both men – but I would say even more so for Wladimir – the pressure is definitely on him. A loss for him spells retirement; a loss for Peter can just be chalked up as a learning lesson…

It’s a tough one to call – the only guarantee here is a KO – there will be no decision. Going by the numbers, Klitschko brings more fight experience, a 4 inch reach advantage and a 5 inch height advantage. Going by momentum and confidence – Peter clearly has the edge. All Klitschko has to do is jab, jab, jab, and then throw the right hand when it’s there. All Peter has to do is get inside and nail his opponent with a big, flush shot. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I like Klitschko by late TKO – and then he should go after Lamon Brewster (if he’s still champ) and the WBO belt in early 2006.

Lamon Brewster vs. Luan Krasniqi (09/28 Hamburg, Germany)
This will not be an easy night for Brewster – he’s fighting a German, in Germany, on Max Schmelling’s birthday. If he can pull it off, and I think that he will, then he will have shown that he is definitely for real. He’s coming off a huge win over Golota, while Krasniqi is coming off a sixth round KO over Lance Whitaker back on May 28th. To me, this is another toss up, but I have to go with my fellow American here. I believe Brewster’s chin, and power, will lead him to a late stoppage or decision over Krasniqi. It sets up a big fight with either Wladimir Klitschko or Samuel Peter early next year – which will probably (should) be the biggest payday of Lamon’s career.

James Toney vs. Dominick Guinn (10/01 Reno, NV)
Yawn, sigh. . . yawn again. All the trash talk we’ve heard from Toney and his camp about taking over the division, and first he gets busted taking roids, then he takes this fight. Guinn’s career is going down quicker than a cheerleader under the bleachers. The guy is 1-2-1 in his last four fights – including decision losses to Barrett and Lyakhovich. I like Toney by unanimous decision. This fight doesn’t change a thing in the heavyweight scene.

Vitali Klitschko vs. Hasim Rahman (date? location?)
This fight will finally happen after Rahman’s victory over Barrett on the 13th. Don King is a good manipulator, and he’s made Vitali out to be the bad guy in this whole situation – citing “ducking” and such. I can write about all the date changes, and who really did what, but it’s over now so what’s the point? The point is that the fight is happening – finally…

Barrett hurt Rahman twice in their fight – imagine what a heavy puncher like Vitali will do (if he gets an open shot that is). Klitschko brings a 5 inch height advantage, but Rahman has freakishly long arms – and carries a 2 inch reach advantage. The big thing Hassim has in his corner is the Ukranian’s long layoff, i.e. – his ring rust. He should try to take advantage of that and wear the giant down - but I don’t see that happening. Klitschko has a lot to prove after the long layoff, he knows that he needs to beat Rahman in impressive fashion in order to regain the momentum and credibility he once had. I like Vitali by KO in the middle/late rounds. I would love to see him call out Chris Byrd for a rematch right after this bout, but I seriously doubt it – we’ll most likely see him fight Calvin Brock (as they had a contract to fight at one point) next year.

Chris Byrd vs. DaVarryl Williamson (date? location?)
An obnoxious yawn, and an angry sigh – this is Don King and the IBF at their finest! Byrd hasn’t fought since he beat McCline via split decision back in November of ’04 – while Williamson is coming off a second round TKO over Derrick Jefferson earlier this year. I don’t even have to break this fight down – Byrd by decision. Chris makes a habit of complaining to King about mot getting his guaranteed purse of $2.5 million – well maybe if he took a fight that people wanted to see he’d get it. PLEASE Chris, after you dismiss of Williamson, go for a unification match – preferably against Klitschko. Everybody wants to see that fight, you’ll make more than you’ve ever made before, and you can prove that your win in Germany years ago was no fluke. If you lose that fight – you’ve lost to the guy that’s heralded as the best in the division, you’ve split two fights with him, and you can leave the game filthy rich with a smile on your face – what have you got to lose “Rapid Fire”?

John Ruiz vs. ???
Why does this guy have a belt? When Toney got busted for juicing, the WBA should have left the champion spot vacant and set up a mandatory fight with Ruiz and somebody else. You know something, I’m not even going to waste my time writing about this guy any further…

Calvin Brock vs. ???
We are all keeping an eye on him. He might end up getting a shot at Vitali Klitschko in 2006; let’s see what he can do with it. Brock has improved since his time in the Olympics, and seems to get better with every fight.

So there’s the latest everybody, it’s really a bunch of the same crap we’ve been thrown for the past few years, with a few twists here and there. I think the fight generating the most excitement has to be the Klitschko-Peter bout. The winner will be right up there at the top – and will get a title shot in ’06. We are all still waiting for a unification match! Don King has been talking about it for a while now - and has all the power to make it happen – but we are still waiting. There are some bright spots though in the last few months of the year – we should see all four belt holders fight mandatories – and a few top contenders fight one another. At least we’ll have something to write/talk about right?

So the heavyweight division is still foggy, but it’s beginning to clear up. Let’s hope this trend continues so that we can eventually get to the place we all want to be – the place where there is a clearly defined, unified, undisputed champion. I welcome all predictions for the upcoming events – I’m sure more than a few of you will completely disagree with me and my picks. That’s the fun part – so let the debates begin…

Article posted on 18.08.2005

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