It’s official: Klitschko versus Austin

19.01.07 - By Adrian Saba: After weeks of speculation and uncertainty, finally an agreement has been reached: the younger of the Klitschkos, Wladimir, will fight Ray “The Rainman” Austin, boxer from Cleveland, Ohio. They will face on March 10, in Germany, at the SAP-Arena.

Before this fight was announced as official, there were rumours about a showdown between Wladimir and Oleg Maskaev, in Russia or Germany, a duel that would have unified the IBF/WBC belts and that, probably, would have also been for the vacant and prestigious Ring Title. Now, with Klitschko-Austin happening in the near future, unification seems distant once again. Apart from that, it will pressure Maskaev to defend against Samuel Peter, probably on April or May. He must take that immense risk or retire, but the WBC won’t give him another optional defence, mainly because Samuel Peter deserves a title shot more than anyone in the current Heavyweight division..

During some time, the possibility of a fight between Klitscko and Briggs was mentioned, but it was ruined quickly when it was declared that Briggs’ challenger will be Sultan Ibragimov. Curiously, Ibragimov fought against Austin in July of the last year and that bout ended in a just draw. It was a close contest that, in my opinion, was won by Ibragimov, but the draw didn’t surprise me. It was also a perfect chance to see both men’s styles: Austin is a pure boxer with average power, but he apparently can’t leave the structure of the typical modern (mediocre) Heavyweight –big, slow and potbellied; Ibragimov is a powerful slugger and will make Briggs tremble.

Ray Austin’s most notable wins were against a very green Cisse Salif (who lost a Split Decision against David Tua, in a close fight) and Owen “What the Heck” Beck. He also fought Zuri Lawrence (who defeated Jameel McCline) in a 10-rounder that was declared as a draw. “The Rainman” also tied against Larry Donald and ‘Goofi’ Whitaker. Wladimir, on the other hand, comes from a good performance and a spectacular knockout against Calvin Brock, and he is the only current Heavyweight with three consecutive wins against Top10 opposition (Peter, Byrd and Brock). Everything makes me think that this will be an easy fight for the “Steelhammer”, but this is boxing, and the 36-year old Austin has found a golden opportunity.

Many fans are furious because of this fight, and, by all means, they think that Wladimir is guilty of it. What they want, with urgency, are unification bouts and a new flaming Champion, nevertheless, Wladimir doesn’t have many options, he needs his IBF red & gold belt if he wants to unify the division. In any case, Klitschko-Austin is not the fault of Wladmir, but of the sanctioning body. In addition, Wladimir is not the only titlist that will fight a mandatory next. Briggs is also doing it and, surely, Oleg Maskaev will follow that path (now that he is between the sword and the wall) and also Nikolay Valuev (the WBA will make him face Chagaev soon, if he defeats McCline in tomorrow`s fight). After this wave of mandatories, hopefully there will be one of unification before this year ends.

Prediction: Klitschko TKO5 Austin.

Article posted on 19.01.2007

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