Boxing


Heavyweight Roundup: What To Expect From The Best Of The Big Boys In The Near Future

by Paul McCreath - Wlad Klitschko - Now that Wlad has finished off Eddie Chambers with a devastating last round KO his next match should be against his"other" mandatory, the Russian Alex Povetkin. But will Alex take the fight? His new trainer Teddy Atlas did not sound too positive on Friday night. Meanwhile the only fight that might prove very risky for Wlad and of great interest to the general public would be against David Haye. Will we see it? Who knows? Between Wlad and brother Vitali they have pretty much cleaned out the division of any true threats. The brothers have decided that if either one meets Haye it will be Wlad. Barring an upset by Haye it looks like Wlad can rule the division for a long time yet. He just turned 34 but is showing no signs of deterioration. We may have to settle for a series of low risk fights like the past few defenses..

Vitali Klitschko is now 38 years old and probably winding down his career as a champion. His next fight is a voluntary against Albert Sosnowski on May 29. Few expect Vitali to have many problems in that one. After that the pickings are slim. Odlanier Solis will be meeting 39 year old Ray Austin in an eliminator to determine the next mandatory for Vitali so the winner of that one could well be Vitali's last fight especially if it is Solis. I expect that we will see Vitali one or two more times in all and then he will retire.

David Haye has a bout this weekend against the veteran ex-champ John Ruiz. Providing he wins that one he has a contractual obligation to give the Russian giant Nicolay Valuev a rematch. After that would come the winner of the May 22 eliminator between Ruslan Chagaev and Kali Meehan. For a fighter who only fights about once a year that schedule is going to keep David busy for awhile. He would probably be favored to win all three matches but Chagaev could be a very tough one to overcome. Then there is the question of the unification match with Wlad. Does Haye really want this fight? He talks like he does but as we all know what David says he is going to do and what he does are frequently two different things. One obstacle to be overcome would be the alphabet boys and all those mandatories. It will be difficult to fit in the fight everyone wants and if it happens I doubt it will be until near year's end or early 2011.

Alex Povetkin won 2 eliminators over two years ago to earn a title shot and we are still waiting. Wlad is willing but first Alex got injured and then he began to realise, wisely I think, that he just wasn't ready to meet Wlad. Now he is healthy, more experienced and he has a new trainer. Will he finally take the fight? The thing is that while he would have a better chance now than he would have had two years ago he will still be a big underdog. He does have other alternatives. If he truly wants to win a title belt would he not have a better chance by waiting for a shot at David Haye or better still waiting for Vitali to retire (probably a shorter wait) so he can join the rush for his vacated title? It is not like he is going to starve if he decides to wait for a better opportunity. There is plenty of money for top 10 heavyweights in Europe.

Eddie Chambers is far from done after his loss to Wlad. While he is unlikely to ever overthrow either of the giant Klitschko brothers they will not be around for ever, especially Vitali. Eddie is not a true heavyweight but he can handle most of them anyway. He is only 27. He can hang around until he gets another title shot against someone more his own size. As long as he keeps busy the chances will come again perhaps in a return with Povetkin for Vitali's old belt when he retires. Eddie could even drop down to cruiser and maybe win a belt there but he would have to settle for less money. I doubt if we will see that.

John Ruiz goes into his April 3 fight with David Haye as a live underdog but I think that at 38 years of age this will finally be his last kick at the can. We have of course written him off many times before and he keeps coming back but it can't last forever.

Ruslan Chagaev will be a heavy favorite to defeat Kali Meehan which will then put him either into a title bout with David Haye or in a very good position to fight for the alphabet belt that Vitali will eventually vacate. We are going to hear more from Ruslan for sure. His only loss was to Wlad Klitschko and that is not such a bad thing.

Chris Arreola has a big bout coming up on April 24 against Tomasz Adamek. This is bound to lead to a title match for the winner. If it is Chris it might be more likely to be Wlad Klitschko or David Haye although there is a long line-up there. If Tomasz wins Vitali would maybe be the more likely opponent. This is a fight that could go either way and should be a good one.

Denis Boytsov at 24 is the youngest of the contenders and appears to be in no hurry. He is fast and hits hard. If advanced intelligently he has a very bright future. He will likely continue to gain experience for a year or two yet before he tries for a world title. A match for the Euro belt against the Harrison-Sprott winner would be a good next step for this young Russian.

Nicolay Valuev will probably get one last payday late this year against David Haye and that will be it. He is slipping and no longer as popular as earlier even in Europe. He missed his chance in turning down the fight with Vitali Klitschko. He would not likely have won but it would have paid very well.

Alex Dimitrenko has been out of action with an injury and needs to regroup after the bad loss to Eddie Chambers. A couple of tune-ups and then a challenge for the Euro belt would make sense. How about Dimitrenko vs Boytsov in a few months?

Tony Thompson is now 38 and time is running out. He will meet Jason Estrada on April 16 and that could lead to more paydays. He must stay busy and hope that one of the champions will be looking for a voluntary opponent sometime soon. Don't hold your breath.

Tomasz Adamek is a former champion at two weights who hopes to add the heavyweight crown as well. His April 24 bout with Chris Arreola will tell us if this is a realistic goal. I don't see him defeating either of the Klitschkos but once Vitali retires anything could happen. Give him a good chance against Chris.

Sam Peter is back in the mix after his recent KO win over Nagy Aguilera. He has lost a lot of weight and is probably as good as he ever was but still slow and limited technically. His power is his strength and his name is still well recognized so count him in somewhere. Wouldn't you love to see him fight either Chris Arreola or David Tua?

Ray Austin is a 39 year old retread who is just hanging on. He could upset an ill-conditioned Solis and that would get him another title bout but yikes ! Who would buy that. It is more likely that this will be his last good payday.

Odlanier Solis may have the best set of tools among all the challengers but he remains unproven and much too heavy. An impressive win over Austin could be a good move to change all that. We can only hope. He may get by Austin but I have my doubts that the weight will ever come off.

Juan Carlos Gomez, the former cruiser champ has become active again and he is still a pretty good fighter. He just won a bout last weekend and has two more tune-ups scheduled soon while he awaits a more meaningful match. At age 36 don't expect too much but he will be a useful gatekeeper for awhile yet.

David Tua would best be forgotten. He hasn't had a meaningful fight in over 5 years and is now 37 years old. His heart is not in it anymore. David will continue to meet modest opposition once or twice a year but will take no big fights. He meets Friday Ahunanya on March 31.

Former big names like James Toney, Hasim Rahman, Evander Holyfield, Shannon Briggs and others are still around with their delusions of reclaiming their one time prominence but their time is past. Evander is the best of the lot even at 46+ years mainly due to his dedication to training so he could get one more good payday but the rest are pretty much limited to the bush leagues of the sport now.

Albert Sosnowski will get his 15 minutes of fame and then revert to the Euro level competition again. He is a willing well conditioned fighter but not championship material. He meets Vitali on May 29.

That's about it unless Kevin Johnson decides to stop talking and start fighting. I doubt if we will see that either. At least we have some promising action coming up among the others in the division.

Article posted on 30.03.2010



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