The Heavyweights-Hiker Looks Ahead At The May Fight Docket
By Paul McCreath - After a fairly quiet month of April things are promising to get a little more lively during May. The most important bout will not take place until nearly the end of the month, May 30 when Nicolay Valuev and Ruslan Chagaev finally get together to settle the mess of having two WBA champions. Originally Chagaev was their lone champion at heavyweight after he defeated Valuev by decision in April of 2007. What followed was a series of health problems that left Ruslan unable to fight for a number of months. He did eventually make a voluntary defense the following January against Matt Skelton and after Valuev outpointed former WBO champ Sergei Liakhovich in an eliminator in February he was named to fight a rematch with Chagaev..
Unfortunately health issues arose again and the bout was postponed indefinitely. The WBA named Chagaev a champion in recess rather than take his title away from him and Valuev met and defeated former WBA champ John Ruiz in August to win the regular vacant title. He followed this with a disputed win over Evander Holyfield in December. Meanwhile Chagaev got healthy again and instead of meeting Valuev was allowed to defend against a relative unknown fighter Carl Davis Drumond in February of this year. Now at last Valuev and Chagaev will meet in their rematch to reduce the number of world champions to "only three" counting the other alphabet titles. Chagaev brings a 25-0-1 record with 17 KOs. The draw was of the technical variety early in his career and was later reversed by a KO win. Valuev's record is 50-1-0 with 34 KOs.
Nobody is overly excited about actually watching this fight as neither fighter is considered by most fans to be as good as either of the Klitschkos and both looked bad in their last bout. In fact it could be argued that Valuev has never won an undisputed decision in any of his big bouts. Chagaev remains the only fighter to ever gain a decision over Nicolay and I predict he will do it again. We can only hope that this bout will lead to a match with one of the Klitschkos for the winner but don't hold your breath. John Ruiz has already been named the mandatory to meet the winner. The WBA title just gets more laughable all the time.
Fans in the UK have two bouts that they will be looking forward to this month. In the first one on May 2 British champ Danny Williams will defend against challenger John McDermott in a rematch of a close bout last July. Williams is a former fringe world contender who has always been erratic. Lately he has just been unimpressive having trouble with several lesser fighters he would have handled easily in his prime. It seems time is running out on Danny.Last time out he was stopped in 8 rounds by Albert Sosnowski. Danny's weight can fluctuate for fights by more than 30 pounds but unless he is really fit for this one it will probably be his last stand. McDermott is nothing special either. He has good skills but comes up short on punching power and durability. He may may feel more confident after coming so close last time and if he can trim down a bit from his usual flabby build he can come through with a decision this time over the possibly unmotivated Williams. McDermott's record is 25-4-0 with 16 KOs while Williams comes in at 40-7-0 with 31 KOs and 1 no contest.
The second British bout of interest is on May 15 when Commonwealth champ Martin Rogan defends his title against prospect Sam Sexton in Belfast Ireland. Martin was the Cinderella story of the past few months. In April 2007 he surprised most fans by winning the first Prizefighter tournament by defeating three opponents in one night.He followed that in December with another upset, this time a 10 round decision over the much hyped Audley Harrison then went from there to win the Commonwealth title over the favoured Matt Skelton in February of this year with an 11th round KO . His record stands now at 12-0-0 and 6 KOs.
Sexton on the other hand won the second Prizefighter tournament last September. His lone loss had come earlier in the year when he ran out of gas and was stopped in the sixth after a lively scrap by fellow undefeated prospect Derek Chisora. He has since adjusted his training regime and has been more impressive. His record is now 11-1-0 with 4 KOs. Rogan has the incentive of a possible Euro title match with Alex Dimitrenko if he wins this one. Martin is very aggressive and perhaps more rugged but Sexton may be the better technically. Anything could happen but I will go with Rogan by decision.
American fans will finally get a look at Kevin Johnson against a name opponent when he meets Monte Barrett on May 15 in a bout televised by ESPN. Johnson should be too much for the fading Barrett but it will be interesting to see how Kevin looks against Barrrett as compared with how David Haye did last November when he stopped Monte in 5. I will go with Johnson in an easy win for this one with a chance of a late KO. Johnson is currently unbeaten in 22 bouts with one early draw with Timor Ibragimov and only 8 KOs. His jab alone should be too much for the slower Barrett. Monte is 34-7 with 20 KOs.
Another American based fighter Bowie Tupou will try to extend his 17-0 record on May 9 against soft trial horse Chris Koval. Bowie has 13 KOs and will no doubt add another in this match to be held in Las Vegas and carried by HBO.
Former champ Oliver McCall returns May 22 against Assie John Hopoate in Vegas. Oliver is old and slow but he knows too much for fighters at the level of Hopoate. McCall should grab the decision. His record is 51-9-9 with 36 KOs. Hopoate is 11-2-0 with all the wins by KO.
Cuban prospect Odlanier Solis will be back in action on May 22 against former contender Fres Oquendo 29-5-0 with 18 KOs. Oquendo is one of those "nearly men" who often comes close against good fighters but usually falls a bit short. He should be a good test for Solis who continues to battle weight problems but I suspect Fres will "nearly win" again. Solis will likely have to settle for a decision. He also has an earlier fight set for May 2 in California against the veteran trial horse Robert Hawkins who is better than his 23-13-0 and 7 KOs record. Hawkins will make it interesting but expect Solis to win fairly easily.He has won 13 in a row,9 by KO.
As usual we have several young prospects set for more action during the month,all against the ever popular TBA. That guy sure gets around. Andrezej Wawrzyk, 14-0-0 with 9 KOs fights in Poland May 9. Derek Chisora, 9-0-0 with 5 KOs including the one over Sam Sexton appears May 22. Canadian Neven Pajkic 9-0-0 with 4 KOs will be in Edmonton May 29 and finally American hope Travis Kauffman will be fighting again in Reading Pa on May 30. Travis is now 16-0-0 with 13 KOs. Finally German fans will get another look at Yakup Saglam, 18-0-0 with 16 KOs also on May 30. I don't expect any of these matches to be of the earth shaking variety but we would hope they may move these young fellows a little closer to being known better by fans outside their home areas.
That's it for this May.Hope you will enjoy the fights.