Sultan Ibragimov versus Evander Holyfield?
06.06.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani: Since winning the WBO heavyweight boxing championship from Shannon Briggs this past weekend, various rumors have surfaced regarding potential challengers for the newly crowned champ, Sultan Ibragimov. Amongst the possibilities, one name has been mentioned more often than the others—Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield.
Article posted on 07.06.2007
When pondering this potential match-up, the first question that jumps to mind is does Holyfield deserve a title shot? Well, I guess that depends on what you mean by “deserves”. Holyfield, after all, has strung together three consecutive victories since beginning his boxing comeback in August of last year. The most notable came against former top ten contender, “Fast” Fres Oquendo.
Those three in themselves probably aren’t enough to warrant a title shot at this time. On the other hand, it isn’t as if other less-deserving challengers haven’t been ‘awarded’ title shots in the past.
Holyfield is slated to fight another former contender later this month when he squares off against Lou Savarese. This will be Lou’s first fight in nearly fifteen months. Even still, at his advanced age, there are no guarantees for a Holyfield victory, especially considering he’s not nearly as active as he was when he wore a younger man’s clothes. Should Holyfield be victorious against Savarese, deserving or not, I suspect we’ll see an Ibragimov-Holyfield WBO title bout.
That brings up the next question: Does Holyfield stand a chance at beating Ibragimov?
That’s a tough one to answer. Frankly, my instincts say no. Ibragimov is too young and vigorous to fight the anemic pace Holyfield would need to have a chance. The key to Ibragimov’s recent victory against Briggs was being more active than his opponent. He had no problems utilizing this advantage against Briggs, and I doubt he’d have any trouble doing the same against the aging Holyfield.
Even worse, unlike Briggs, Holyfield doesn’t possess much pop in his punch. This means Ibragimov needn’t concern himself about being dropped from a single counter punch—a concern that was a high priority when facing Briggs. If an Ibragimov-Holyfield bout does come to fruition, I suspect we’ll see the younger champion outwork and out-hustle Holyfield for a one-sided decision.
On the flip side, Ibragimov is probably the weakest of all the reigning champions. As such, Holyfield will have a better chance against him than he would against a Wladimir Klitschko or Samuel Peter (assuming Peter dethrones Maskaev, which is a safe enough assumption for argument’s sake). Beating someone like Klitschko or Peter is an impossibility for Holyfield at this stage; beating Ibragimov is at least plausible.
Something else that might conceivably help Holyfield is his lack of power. How can a lack of power help Holyfield, you ask? As strange as it sounds, this may open up some opportunities for Holyfield—opportunities that weren’t afforded to Briggs. Ibragimov knew from the onset that Briggs was a big puncher. This meant that he had to be very weary of any incoming counters. One big shot from Briggs could have ended it all, just as it did against Liakhovich. On the other hand, Holyfield doesn’t have that type of power, so there’s always a chance that Ibragimov may get too brave for his own good, affording Holyfield an opportunity to land something unexpected.
Whether or not Ibragimov defends his title against Holyfield remains to be seen. If he manages to get by Savarese at month’s end, he will certainly help his own cause in his quest to regain the heavyweight crown. Time will tell.
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