Boxing


Lamon Brewster-Kali Meehan: How Low Can It Go?

01.09.04 - By Janne Romppainen: We all know that the title ‘heavyweight championship of the world’ holds none of the meaning that once made it the most noble status in all sports anymore. These days anybody can put up a new sanctioning body and declare anybody they want as their champion. In all we have almost twenty so-called world champions in every weight class, most of them guys you have never even heard of. But apart from the smallest organizations there are the so-called “major” world titles. There are WBC, WBA and IBF which are usually mentioned as the “three big titles” and the WBO which is behind these three but above all the rest or at least it should be. In the 1990s the trend seemed to be that WBO in terms of credibility was approaching the other big titles as it was the first one to recognize men such as Marco Antonio Barrera and Prince Naseem Hamed as world champions. Now it seems that the trend has changed. The status of all sanctioning bodies is sinking year after year, but out of the four major titles the WBO has apparently taken the biggest turn for worse.

We do know that the smaller sanctioning bodies often want to have different ‘world champions’ than the ones recognized by the biggest belts so they would get attention to their belts. But enough is enough in that too. If a sanctioning body wants to remain any credibility, it must not call a fight between Lamon Brewster and Kali Meehan a world heavyweight championship bout, no matter what. Yet that is exactly what the WBO does in 4th of September when these two fight for its spurious title.

We have seen many weak heavyweight championship bouts put up by the four governing bodies, but this might be the all-time low point. The only one that is about the same level that I can think of was Herbie Hide – Damon Reed in 1997, also put up by WBO. The difference is that even that bout, which lasted less than a minute, created slight interest in Hide’s home land Great Britain, but this bout doesn’t do even that.

First we have the defending titlist Lamon Brewster who got his crown by knocking out Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in last April. Brewster was thought to be a soft touch for the former top challenger, but instead he admirably took his chance and won the bout fair and square. However, that outcome does not change that with his earlier results he is not a top-10 challenger in the division, not even now that the competition in the division is rather low. By numbers he has a nice ring record of 30-2, 27 knockouts and he has demonstrated a solid if not crunching power and reliable chin but that’s about it.. He was soundly out-pointed by the very average Cliff Etienne and Charles Shufford, which speaks for itself. And he is the champion in here.

Brewster might be and probably is one of the weakest title holders ever in the four main sanctioning bodies , but at least he won his crown fairly from a fighter that still was ranked highly. But where did they find Kali Meehan of all fighters to his first challenger? Meehan is ranked at #15 by WBO, but how has he achieved a ranking even that high and furthermore, how does that slot give him the right to challenge for the title?

Kali Meehan is an Australian fighter with an impressive record of 29-1, 23 knockouts, but that is all he has to represent, numbers. No names that possibly could defend his status as a title challenger can be found. Perhaps the best of the opponents he has beaten is Damon Reed who was already mentioned when thinking about the poorest heavyweight title fight in the history. Meehan stopped him in six rounds earlier this year. Apart from him, nearly all of Meehan’s opponents have been either oft-beaten or inexperienced and still Meehan hasn’t been able to impress anybody outside the WBO people. There is one world class opponent on his record of course: in 2001 Meehan met British Danny Williams who recently upset Mike Tyson. Apparently Williams didn’t know that he was facing a future world-title challenger since he did not respect his foe too much but instead trashed Meehan in half a minute without breaking sweat.

There has been an unwritten rule that the new champion has a right to take one soft touch at first in his title reign. Usually this soft-touch has meant either a new-coming talented fighter or a veteran who has had a good career but is on decline. Kali Meehan is neither of these. For what we have seen by him so far, he is what you could call a never-was. Beating him is not an achievement for a world-class fighter. It seems obvious that Brewster’s intention is to keep active and retain his title until he can face some top contender, perhaps even Vitaly Klitschko, and collect big money, but apart from that this bout bears no meaning. I can’t see anything good that would come out from it for the WBO so I have to wonder why are they going through with it. The little credibility they have achieved goes crashing down. And if they think that the only way to keep Brewster as the champion is to make him fight opponents of this calibre, then perhaps they should change the champion. Even though the biggest names of the division might not be interested to win the WBO crown, there surely would have been plenty of better candidates available for it than Kali Meehan.

Of course the more hard-core boxing fans understand that not every fight billed as a world title bout should really be called such. However there are the viewers too who occasionally watch boxing. Many of them might have heard about the WBO title since it has been around for over tens years but might not know its (non-)reliability. So now that they see the fight called the “heavyweight title bout” and see these two fighters going at it, what will be their impression of world level boxing? Boxing will get a black eye because of a lie. If this was billed as a normal heavyweight contest, which is in reality is, there wouldn’t be a problem.

An old saying in boxing goes that you don’t need two great fighters to put up a very good fight, which is true. Unfortunately that does not work the other way around; two average fighters don’t automatically put up a good fight either. Yet that is all we can hope from this. Hopefully Brewster and Meehan will do their best and fought as well as they can, thus we just might get a nice undercard for the welterweight championship bout between Cory Spinks and Miguel Angel Gonzales, which, to be fair does not sound all that exciting either. Let’s also hope that this will be the all-time low-point by WBO or the other sanctioning bodies and from now on the promoters would start to respect the title “heavyweight championship” a bit more again. Hey, miracles do happen at times!


Comments/questions: janneromppainen@hotmail.com

Article posted on 01.09.2004



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