Ruslan Chagaev Beats Meehan To Earn Shot At Haye’s WBA Belt - Who Will Haye Fight Next; Chagaev or Wladimir Klitschko?
By James Slater - Former WBA heavyweight ruler Ruslan Chagaev earned the right to fight for his old belt last night, as he won a clear and wide 12-round UD over Fiji’s Kali Meehan. The 31-year-old southpaw from Uzbekistan scored his biggest win in a long time as he returned to winning ways following his comprehensive TKO loss to Ring magazine, IBF and WBO king Wladimir Klitschko.
Despite that fight being almost a full year ago, Chagaev, now 26-1-1(17) showed no ring-rust against the 40-year-old Meehan; winning by scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 117-112. Meehan, who had predicted a stoppage win and tried his best to get one, is now 35-4(29) and it’s tough to see where he goes from here.
What we all want to see now is where Chagaev goes next. Sure, he earned his shot at “The Hayemaker’s” crown, and the once-beaten lefty will very much want to fight Haye as soon as he can. However, it’s never that simple in boxing. As fans know, Haye and his manager Adam Booth have been working these last few weeks at getting a fight on between Haye and the aforementioned “Dr. Steel Hammer.” With all respect to Chagaev, this fight, one the whole world wants to see, is by far the more exciting prospect..
But will a deal be reached for Haye to get it on with Klitschko? If not, it might be Chagaev next. If it is this scenario that unfolds, and if Wladimir fights the unbeaten (and also IBF mandatory) Alexander Povetkin next instead of Haye, Haye’s critics will almost certainly come out firing at the Londoner once again. Claiming Haye wants no part of either Klitscho brother despite his words to the contrary, Haye taking on Chagaev in his next fight would only reinforce these beliefs.
In an ideal world, and for excitement reasons, the Klitschko-Haye fight would come next, in the late summer, then the winner would fight the deserving Povetkin. Chagaev won’t be happy if this is what happens, and he and his team may complain to the WBA, but if an arrangement could be made, with maybe some step aside money being paid to Chagaev as he allows Haye to fight Klistchko, things could fall into place nicely.
But just supposing Haye does agree to defend against Chagaev next, what type of fight would it be for the fans? Chagaev is a good technical boxer, but he is no huge puncher. His southpaw stance could give Haye problems for a while, but, to my mind anyway, this is a winnable fight for the younger, harder-hitting man. Haye is also the faster fighter of the two, he has better fitness and he is way more explosive and aggressive. I do feel that Haye would become the second man to halt Chagaev.
But what would such a win do for Haye? Sure, it would see him retain his title belt, but would his critics be impressed? I seriously doubt it. “Haye is facing Wladimir Klitschko’s leftovers,” some of Haye’s detractors would cry if he beat up on Chagaev.
His good win last night aside, Chagaev isn’t a massive threat to Haye; Wladimir Klitschko is. Which route will the exciting Brit look to take later this year?