The blue ribbon division. Once upon a time it played host to the fights that everybody wanted to see. In recent times it has lost its grandeur however we may be entering a boom period and nothing gets fans more excited than a colossal showdown between two gladiators.
Saturday 16th January 2016 is a huge day for the Heavyweight division. After November’s shocking triumph for Tyson Fury over Wladimir Klitschko, the landscape of boxing has certainly shifted and it will continue to do so with two live events this weekend.
In London we will see the return of “The Hayemaker” David Haye (26-2 with 24 KO’s) after a three and a half year retirement. The former WBA Heavyweight Champion will square off with Australia’s Mark De Mori (30-1-2 with 26 KO’s) at the 02 Arena. Haye’s last action was his 5th round KO of Derick Chisora in 2012 and since then he has pulled out of two lucrative dates with new kingpin, Tyson Fury, and one with Manuel Charr before citing a shoulder injury as the reason he could no longer fight.
After a successful surgery, Haye is ready to return and lay claim to a kingdom that he once found himself on the cusp of owning. He has linked up with Shane McGuigan, son of Barry, and believes he has the tools in his arsenal to challenge for big honours once more. Haye, a former Undisputed Cruiserweight champion, has devastating power and quick hands but many fans are unconvinced by his comeback. Haye has always talked a big game but after his one-sided points defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in 2011 (Haye later blamed a broken toe for his lacklustre display), it will take something big to get the public back onside.
It would be great for the sport to add another legitimate contender back into the mix, a pay per view show down with Britain’s new “Golden Boy” Anthony Joshua is already hotly touted, however De Mori (#10 in the WBA rankings) should not be cast aside and underestimated. His ledger may not set pulses racing but the Perth fighter can bang and any show of ring rust from Haye could lead to an intriguing night.
Look for a tentative opening as Haye feels his way back into it but once he starts letting his hands go he should find De Mori a willing target. It should be an explosive affair that ends by KO for Haye any time after round 6.
Meanwhile in Brooklyn we are treated to two world championship fights on the same bill at the Barclays Centre. WBC King, Deontay Wilder (35-0 with 34 KO’s) defends against the tough but beatable Pole Artur Szpilka (20-1 with 15 KO’s). These two men certainly don’t like one another, their pre-fight scuffle proved that, so it should be fun as long as it lasts but given Wilder’s record that might not be very long at all.
Wilder certainly still has things to prove, most heavyweights do, but his fights usually deliver on the entertainment factor. Question marks still remain over his chin (he was shook badly by Eric Molina last year) but there are no doubts over his own power, only one of his opponents has made it to the final bell. Szpilka’s best win came over fellow countryman Tomasz Adamek (UD in 2014) but he was stopped in ten by Bryant Jennings, hardly a noted puncher, so Wilder is the clear favourite.
Szpilka will give it a go, he may even catch Wilder if the champion chooses to go gung ho, but the chances of him leaving as champion are slim. If Wilder uses his superior reach and boxing skills (demonstrated when he took the title from Bermaine Stiverne) then this fight should be a walk in the park for him but it is unlikely that the “Bronze Bomber” is going to employ those tactics.
Wilder by stoppage between rounds 3 and 6 seem to the most sensible opinion although a first round blowout is never out of the equation. After this it is time for him to step up his levels and prove his worth, Alexander Povetkin has been waiting for his shot for a long time now and it’s a fight we’d all like to see.
In one of the more baffling decisions last year (there were many) was the IBF choosing to strip Tyson Fury just days after he won the title in Germany. Their official line was that Fury must face #1 ranked Vyacheslav Glazkov before he went through with his obligated re-match with former champion, Wladimir Klitschko. It smacked of desperate politics and quite frankly rendered their title a lot more meaningless than the others currently on offer.
But tell that to Glazkov (21-0-1 with 13 KO’s) and Charles Martin (22-0-1 with 20 KO’s) who meet on Saturday for the now vacant IBF Heavyweight Championship of the World. It may be meaningless to many boxing fans and insiders but to these two men it is their chance to cement their name in history and join the elite.
Will they be regarded on the same level as Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder? Probably not and whoever wins will probably have many red dots trained on them from the hunting pack but for as long as it lasts they will be known as a world champion and that’s the reason they got into the business in the first place.
Glazkov is a tidy boxer (bronze medallist from the 2008 Olympics) with enough power to sting an opponent and he rightly starts out as favourite for this bout. He’s mixed in higher company and holds victories over Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham but Martin is an unknown quantity with a big punch, it could make for an interesting combination.
It’s the classic boxer versus puncher scenario and the pick is for Glazkov to come out on top via the judge’s scorecards but Martin’s ability to change a fight with one hook makes him a live underdog in this one.
The rest of the division will be tuned into both shows I’m sure. There is a plethora of fighters waiting in line for their shot and it will be interesting to see where they train their sights. Anthony Joshua, Alexander Povetkin, Luis Ortiz amongst others are looking to raid the world title scene in the coming months so it is safe to say we are entering an exciting period that hasn’t been seen for many years.