Frank Maloney Takes on the Heavyweight Division
31.05.04 – By Curtis McCormick - FrankMaloney.com: Frank Maloney is in a unique position to assess the world's heavyweight scene. For over a decade the London based fight manager guided Lennox Lewis from pro debut to becoming the undisputed champion of the world. Currently Maloney manages a host of superb young fighters with WBO Super Featherweight champion Scott Harrison being the star of the stable. What does Maloney think of today's post Lennox Lewis heavyweight division? Join www.frankmaloney.com as we present the one and only Frank Maloney's views on the highest profile weight class in the sport.
Article posted on 31.05.2004
"After being in the heavyweight scene for so long and having watched the division from, let's say the ivory tower, I feel the weight class is at a terrible loss at the moment," said Maloney. "This always happens and isn't the fault anyone but rather occurs after you've had a dominant champion. Over the last forty years we had Muhammad Ali, then Larry Holmes, then Mike Tyson with lulls in between the primes of each of those fighters. After Tyson, we had Holyfield, Lewis and Bowe come through with Lewis proving to be the dominant heavyweight of that era."
"Now that Lewis has abdicated, there's no one to take over from him and the heavyweight division is fragmented again. Right now you have Chris Byrd, John Ruiz, who was beaten by a light heavyweight, Vitali Klitschko and Lamon Brewster. On any given night, any of those four champions could beat any of the others. There's no heavyweight right now that can dominate the division and I think that's bad for boxing. Furthermore, if you look at the rankings there are no young American heavyweights coming through. I can say the same thing about the British heavyweights, particularly after watching Audley Harrison recently. I don't think he has the heart or the skills to go to the top and dominate the world's heavyweights as he claims he can."
"The sport of boxing is only as good as the heavyweight division and without a dominant heavyweight, the sport will suffer. We had a great featherweight title fight just recently between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, a great featherweight here in Britain called Scott Harrison and the light welterweight division has been very competitive for a few years now but the heavyweight division is the most important in the sport. It's a very sad state of affairs that Mike Tyson, who is now a beaten up old man with a lot of problems, is still the biggest draw in boxing. He hasn't even been in the ring since getting beaten by Lennox Lewis, with the exception of less than one round against Clifford Etienne, yet he still is the biggest draw in heavyweight boxing."
"When the Klitschko - Sanders fight happened recently, for the first time ever I didn't buy a pay-per-view heavyweight title bout, because I had no interest in it. I waited until it was shown on regular Sky TV here in Britain and then I only watched it out of curiosity. I can't say that it was a bad fight, as it did turn out to be pretty entertaining, but the buildup for it just couldn't get me excited."
"Why are the heavyweights is such decline? One of the reasons is there are too many career options out there now, especially for potential fighters of heavyweight size and particularly in America where they can become basketball players or American football players and make millions of dollars on a contract without having to worry about fighting. And we need American heavyweights to maximize the television interest. One indicator of what's going on now is how much people are getting paid today compared to what Lennox Lewis got paid. Lennox Lewis as a non-champion got more than what champions are getting paid currently. Especially when he fought Tommy Morrison and Ray Mercer, even when he fought Razor Ruddock in 1992. He earned more money I believe than what champions are making today and that does say something."
"In regards to the heavyweight scene here in Britain, I think it's very interesting at the moment. You've got Audley Harrison, who claims to have all the skill and talent in the world, but so far I'm not impressed especially after having watched him in his most recent fight. Danny Williams has a lot of skill and can punch but he lacks something. Of course you have my brother Eugene's fighter, Matt Skelton, who doesn't have a lot of skill or ability but has a lot of heart and the biggest set of balls I've ever seen in boxing. His fitness is unbelievable, unlike anyone else I've ever worked with"
"People say, 'well what about when he gets hit with a good shot?' Matt did take some good shots from Michael Sprott and not only survived but also came back stronger. I would like to think that Frank Warren would be able to put a fight together between Skelton and Audley Harrison. That would either shut up people like me about Harrison or Matt Skelton will come through and go on to bigger and better things. I believe that Skelton will be too rough, too tough, dragging Harrison into the trenches where Audley won't be able to live with him."
"Right now I manage two heavyweights, Dennis Bakhtov and Georgi Kandelaki. They're both good fighters and highly ranked in Europe. Georgi is the WBU champion but has been out of the ring for a long time. I'm trying to get him back but with the problems going on in the Republic of Georgia right now, it's quite hard at the moment, but I hope to have Kandelaki back in the ring over the next few months, possibly against Danny Williams. Dennis is the WBC International titlist and had a win in Russia recently. He's still a young heavyweight and I have high hopes for him."
"I feel that eventually a real dominant fighter may be produced out of the old Soviet bloc countries. The Klitschkos unfortunately didn't have American trainers when it counted and I feel that their style will be their downfall or at least Vitali's downfall as we may have already seen Wladimir's. Eventually, when some of these better Eastern fighters go to England or America and get the proper training for professional boxing, I think that one of them will dominate the heavyweight division for a time. In fact there's a seventeen year old in Russia I've been hearing good reports about. He's already signed to someone but I'd like to get part of the action if I can get it (laughs)."
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