06.03.06 – By Troy Ondrizek: In just five days a mega-fight between Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan and Vladimir Virchis of Ukraine; will square off in what quite possibly be the best heavyweight fight this year. I am almost insulted to see so little press in regards to this fight. However, why should I be surprised? Chagaev and Virchis are ranked 6th and 9th respectively by the WBO. One or another is also ranked by the IBF and WBA. This fight has the same meaning as if Calvin Brock and Samuel Peter would face off against one another. The fight might play out look more like Vitali Klitschko and Mike Tyson slugging away. The winner will be set up quite nicely for a title shot in the near future, and definite fame everywhere but the English speaking world. Both fighters are undefeated and carry dynamite in their hands.
At any point one man could be laid out drooling all over himself for our viewing pleasure. Yet, there is no mention of these men fighting, and there is no hype for the winner. Such an injustice is this, that I am actually much more saddened for the common boxing fan; than I am for the fighters themselves.
You see, it is the regular Joe on the street that won’t know this fight is even happening, let alone be able to see it. These fighters deserve more press and respect for facing each other, but it is the casual fan that is truly robbed here. Since most people don’t know about this bout and the fighters involved, let me shine a little light into the darkness that is European and Asian heavyweight boxing in America. So I’m going to treat you to these fighters.
Let me educate you on Ruslan Chagaev first. Ruslan Chagaev is a former amateur champion; who carries amateur victories over 2000 Olympic gold medallist Audley Harrison, and two victories over Cuban legend Felix Savon. Chagaev is a powerful southpaw who has solid defense, crafty elusiveness, and can counter with the best of them. At 27 the powerful Asian (former Soviet-block) holds victories over the common journeymen. He has laid waste to Mark Krence, Sherman Williams, and most notably Rob Calloway. With twenty career fights with a record of 19-0-1 and 16 wins by knockout, Chagaev’s path hasn’t been the hardest.
However, he has impressed in every outing and has never really looked to be in trouble. The main flaw about Chagaev is his horrible nick-name. Chagaev’s “The White Tyson” is an absolute fallacy. He fights nothing like Tyson, moves nothing like Tyson, and is southpaw. The only other fighters that can boast equally horrible nick-names are Calvin “The Boxing Banker” Brock, and Richel Hersisia as “The Dutch Sonny Liston”. Okay that was a little off the subject. Chagaev is the favorite in this fight, because of his superior boxing skills, but he has never faced an opponent with the power of Vladimir Virchis.
That leads us to the Ukrainian Vladimir Virchis. Virchis is a physical replica of Vitali Klitschko. He has Klitschko’s size and power, but lacks his footwork and boxing prowess. Virchis is a 32 year old bruiser who has a professional record of 20-0, and 17 KO’s. He has faced the better opposition than Chagaev, but not by much. His best victories are over Cliff Couser, another Tyson reference, Taras Bidenko, and Michael Sprott. Virchis struggled with the talented Bidenko for eleven and a half rounds.
Bidenko had boxed circles around Virchis and suddenly dumb-struck with the desire to stand in front of Virchis and trade with the big man, Bidenko was dropped and eventually the ref had to end the fight. Virchis escaped with a viable but fortunate victory in that fight. Most recently he won a hard fought affair with Michael Sprott; in which just about every observer minus the judges; felt that Sprott won the match. Virchis carries on with his tainted perfect record. Even though Virchis isn’t the most skilled technician or even close to being called a technician; he is always dangerous in a fight. I would love to see Virchis and an equally skilled Samuel Peter go at it, but that is for another time. Virchis will keep this fight interesting, and we know he carries his power late into the fight; maybe he could catch a lazy Chagaev and capture another impressive KO.
I hope with this tidbit of information you can go out and appreciate this fight. For in all honesty not many fights of this magnitude, with fighters of this caliber actually meet in the heavyweight division. Maybe that fights like this are so rare that we just have become complacent and forget that they do happen. So consequently, when one comes along we can’t even recognize it anymore. Well, now is the time to open your eyes and see the light. The European based fighters are trying hard to save the division, but they can’t do it alone. We need to pay attention and enjoy the product that they are producing.
I for one would rather see this explosive affair, than a possibly boring twelve round fat man dance between Hasim Rahman and James Toney. That’s just me though. So go out on March 11th, and probe your satellite providers and see if you can find the fight, if not, I’ll be happy to report the results to you.