The Cruiserweight Division Finds Itself

08.12.05 - By Troy Ondrizek: Much like the artsy nerd type adolescents who played Dungeons and Dragons, and listened to Culture Club, the cruiserweight division has found it difficult to be accepted by many. As the proverbial red-headed step child of boxingís weight classes, the cruiserweight division has had only a handful of legitimate champions, and far fewer pugilistic greats. Largely ignored since itís inception in 1980, this maligned division has never caught on with fights fans, partly because of it being sandwiched between two highly touted divisions being the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight, also because great fighters just seem to ignore the division as well, being that it doesnít offer the same fiscal opportunities as the aforementioned divisions. It took some time for the division to hold any legitimacy, but it did so in the mid to late eighties with quality fighters like Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Carlos De Leon, and most notably Evander Holyfield..

Holyfield is largely regarded as the best cruiserweight ever to fight. He even brought recognition to himself and cruiserweights everywhere when he unified the division under his control in April of 1988. However as soon as he gave the division an identity, he sent it into obscurity three months later fighting as a heavyweight. He left the division into the state it finds itself today. People complain about when Lennox Lewis retired that he left the heavyweight division in shambles, without a true champion. Even now, fans of the heavyweight division writhe in agony about there being no unified champion. For nearly two and half years they have been in limbo waiting for a champion to emerge. Well if they only knew what it is like to be a fan of the cruiserweight division, for over seventeen years, there still has been no unified champion, no one grabbing the division by the reigns leading it into a prosperous and bright future. Now there has been some quality champions like Juan Carlos Gomez, and Vassiliy Jirov, or even the long time champ Johnny Nelson. Gomez and Jirov have followed the yellow brick road made of money into the heavyweight division, while Nelson has held onto his belt for a bazillion years, never trying to unify. In fact every good fighter in the division with the exception of Nelson; has pursued greener pastures in the higher weight class. You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side, well, in regards to the cruiserweight division, and itís true. Until now that is.

Finally, we as fans have something precious to us within our grasp, a unified champion. Itís like we finally have shed our Goth like cloak of nerdom, and have forgotten to words to Karma Chameleon. For on January seventh history literally will be made as the division finds itself in a position to crown its first unified champion since Evander Holyfield. Jean Marc Mormeck, the WBC, and WBA cruiserweight champion; squares off against the controversial IBF champion OíNeil Bell. Mormeck is the overwhelming favorite to demolish Bellís claims at being a champion. Mormeck is coming off his impressive victory over formerly undefeated champion Wayne Braithwaite. Bell is coming off a successful defense against Sebastian Rothmann, and a disputed victory over Dale Brown to capture the title. This much anticipated fight is seventeen years in the making. This fight highlights a division that has a multitude of good fighters waiting for a shot at the winner. Fighters like Guillermo Jones, Wayne Braithwaite, Steve Cunningham, David Haye, and so many more, are just fighting exciting challenging affairs to climb the mountain of cruiserweight greatness. Much like the heavyweight division there is a debate over who the top ten rated fighters should be in the cruiserweights, unlike the heavies though, it because of a surplus good fighters trying to establish themselves as players in the division. The sheer quantity of talent is alarming, for I donít know what to expect. What great fighter will emerge from the masses? Now the heavyweight division is envious for two reasons, one, their debate over top ten fighters is because there are only five or six good fighters in the division, so they spend their time trying to rationalize several other fighters being ranked, and two, because the cruiserweight division will know who its true unified champion will be. The heavyweights will be soul searching for years. This bliss will last as long as the winner and the other good fighters donít bolt and try to fill the vacant positions of good fighters in the heavyweight division, like so many other fighters have done.

Article posted on 08.12.2005

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