'Call Em Out Fridays': Wladimir Klitschko/Eddie Chambers, David Haye/Johnny Ruiz - 4 Doors, 1 Chair
By Vivek Wallace - Once upon a time, the heavyweight division was seen as the face of boxing. Lower weight classes never failed to deliver the goods, but no matter how many perennial contenders they delivered, similar to their shadowing presence, the heavies just always seemed to loom larger. The legends of yesterday produced a countless amount of highly notables, but it was recent generations that took things to a new level as the names Ali and Tyson not only tread the seven seas, but subsequently whet the appetites of every man on dry land......worldwide. Fast forward a few decades, and suddenly, the landscape has changed and the plot has thickened. The big fights contain little men, and those little men do big things.
Article posted on 26.02.2010
After years and years of little relevance, the new date with destiny for today's heavyweight leaders could very well commence on March 20th when Wladimir Klitschko and 'Fast' Eddie Chambers square off. In an era of fighting sports where fight fans are known to pull the curtains early on anyone that doesn't carry the 'blood and guts' mantra, there's no coincidence why these two men don't get the respect they greatly deserve. This reality remains a tough pill to swallow - given their ability - but come the morning of March 21 when headlines print around the world, a seed of change could be planted, solidified by an event to take place shortly after when the U.K.'s David Haye steps up to the plate against the biggest name on his resume to date. As these men prepare to enter their names in the mix of those legendary figures before them, we take an in-depth look at each of them and what they bring to the table:
DOOR #1: Wladimir Klitschko
Dr. Steel-hammer could be easily be given the name Dr. Who, as few today outside of his home hub seem to follow this humble Ukrainian with true passion. This injustice is easily the biggest crime of the century, as buried beneath this muscular frame is one of the most talented athletes in the sport. The biggest strength of Wladimir would be his vicious power. Perhaps his biggest weakness is a tendency to fight unsure of himself at times, appearing more nervous than nasty in the midst of battle against men who normally have very little chance of dethroning him. As we look back at the body of work that Wladi-K has composed over the years, it really makes you wonder why those outside his continent fail to honor him. A close examination of Wladimir shines light on what makes him special, but a closer look also sheds light on the reason why certain questions remain. A career record of 53-3 comes highly polished with 47KO's. That closer examination reveals that each of his 3 losses came with him failing to finish the fight on his feet. In one breath that seems good because it proves that he's willing to go out on his shield, evidenced by the fact that there's no defeating him without a KO of him. The other side of that coin shows that a fighter talented enough to punish him and durable enough to withstand him will know that if they come at him they can end the fight by out-landing him. No doubt he remains the head of this class, but his next opponent is a quick study that brings a test type he has yet to conquer. The table is set....the chair awaits.
DOOR #2: David Haye
In David Haye, the fight world receives everything it has wanted, and if all goes smooth, all it'll ever need to solidify this current era that has yet to replace the brash likes of Tyson and Ali. His strengths include calculated speed, thunderous power, and oddly enough, a decent set of collective skills; although his weakness places him in a situation where the right opponent may stop him short of using either. That weakness? Despite the thick skin, the jaw is thin. He's only been stopped once, but he's been shaken many times before. When you get beyond the spectacle that Haye is, the true question is how well will he hold up in the heavyweight ranks? Many remain anxious to see this, but after entering with a ton of noise, in some respects, the chorus has gone flat, based on threats pointed at men he has yet to face for reasons still unknown. He impressed in his victory over Valuev, but Valuev was without question the least talented of any of the men he'll have to eventually uproot if he wants to make the splash he said he would. He remains a work in progress, and his next test won't be as easy as some think. Unorthodox, John Ruiz may be, but he comes to dance (fight) and he likes to sing (perform). Without question he still has what it takes to make this an intriguing affair. Haye has all the trimmings to rank amongst the stars, but a shallow effort will only get him the 'moon', as most fight fans would shine it in his face at first chance if he reveals more bark than bite. He wanted the big leagues, and he's got 'em. The table is set....the chair awaits.
DOOR #3: Eddie Chambers
Similarly to David Haye, Eddie Chambers is a relative newcomer to this elite group, and depending on who you ask, some feel he may not quite belong. When you look at Chambers in action, a true perspective can only come with time, as his evolution has polished greatness, and faded the greenery that once had him covered. Chambers has always maintained a certain level of skill, but feather fist and a missing killer instinct always kept him on the outside looking in. Today's version of Chambers, however, has changed. Quite a bit, I might add. His recent victory over Dimitrenko gave many of us a true snapshot of him that most thought existed, yet had never really seen. Gone was the feather-fist, present was power. Gone was the lacking killer instinct, present was a man who refused to be denied. His strengths include quick hands, cat-like reflexes, (which rarely come with heavyweights now days), and set of pure fundamentals which has also seemed to escape most modern day heavies. His weaknesses remain to be 'seem', as the ones of yesterday 'seem' to be all but vanished in his latest effort. Nothing is perfect, yet against Wladimir Klitschko, in order to win he'll have to come awfully close, as one key mistake could place him on his face. Chambers seems poised for this moment and has vowed to bring the hardware back to America. The table is set.....the chair awaits.
DOOR #4: Johnny Ruiz
Of all the men standing in this 'formidable four' heavyweight face-off, Ruiz is the one who sparks the most emotion. Unfortunately, it's not the kind of emotion that us fight fans generally spike. It's probably more of the W-T-F??? type, considering that his tenure in the sport has placed him in the ring with everyone from Evander Holyfield, to Roy Jones jr., to James Toney and Hasim Rahman. With 54 fights under his belt and 18 years in the game, many other fighters shared airspace with the 'Quiet Man', but that group previously mentioned are most notable, because like each of them, none of us seem to know why he remains. When you toss the jokes aside and see things for what they are, unorthodox and all, Ruiz remains a man with a shot. Some view that statement as a reflection of a not-so-deep talent pool, others may view it as a testament to his longevity to even be involved in a title fight, but no matter what any of us view it as, it's simply a reality. One that David Haye will have to test himself against. The last time Ruiz was KO'd was in '96. If he's able to finish the fight on his feet, his bizarre style could be complex enough to in-fact give the judges something to guess about. His strengths would be his durability, and while his weaknesses may seem to include a longer list, that one strength could very well be enough to make up for them all. It's been a long time since Ruiz found himself relative. The table is set....and again...the chair awaits.
In the end analysis, each of these four men will have the opportunity to fortify their position - as it relates to unequivocal dominance in the heavyweight division. Wladimir doesn't have Chambers' reflexes, Chambers doesn't have his power....Haye doesn't have the durability of Ruiz, Ruiz doesn't have his speed. All of these men will have to conquer something they don't possess themselves to ultimately have a seat in the proverbial 'chair'. But even then, one major issue remains......With the table set and the feast prepared, the reality is that win, lose, or draw, neither man can eat, until they remove the true ruler from his seat. That true ruler wasn't in front of either of the four doors.....he was simply the man behind them with the keys to the house. That owner...None other than Vitali. Now which of these men are prepared to remove him? And there lies the operative question to be answered. Stay tuned.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).
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