Heavyweight Outlook for 2005: Klitschko on Top of the Heap, but King Still Holding the Cards

13.12.04 - By Umar ben-Ivan Lee: Is Mike Tyson in has present form that bad or is Vitali Klitschko that good? That is the question that many in boxing are asking themselves after the one-sided beating Danny Williams endured at the hand of Vitali Klitschko. The fight was so uneven that for eight-rounds Williams fans were forced to jump to their feat when the Londoner landed a jab..

This is the same Williams that endured a lot of punishment from Mike Tyson for three rounds, yet came back to score a stunning knockout in impressive fashion in the fourth round. Against Klitschko; the power of Williams was completely neutralized as the stronger and more technically proficient Klitschko stalked him down and dropped him four times in route to an eighth-round stoppage.

A message was sent to the boxing public and to the heavyweight division on Saturday night; despite what you may have heard, Vitali Klitschko is the force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division and he is the recognized champion. The other belt-holders had a chance on November 13th to stake their claim to the thrown and failed. Chris Byrd for his third consecutive bout won a very close decision that could have went either way and John Ruiz was dropped in winning a close decision against Andrew Golota. Hasim Rahman looked good in easily dispatching Kali Meehan, but Rahman currently has no claim to the thrown. The only other claimant is Lamon Brewster, who barely defeated, the same Meehan, that Rahman and Danny Williams easily knocked-out, in his last outing.

If boxing were a rational sport ran by rational people we would say that the obvious next step would be to hold a tournament between the belt-holders, but boxing is a sport that doesn’t always operate in any remotely rational manner. Don King, who promotes three of the four belt-holders in Byrd, Ruiz and Brewster and promotes top contender Rahman and has won the purse-bid for Monte Barrett versus Owen Beck is holding most of the cards in the division.

Klitschko has the name and the fame, at least in Europe and Ukraine, but he cannot cash in on his success properly without the cooperation of King. Kingfor his part is reluctant to put his heavyweights in against people they may lose to, because with the loss of a belt King will lose his share of control in the division. So, King must walk a fine line seeking to make money off of his heavyweights, but not putting them in danger of losing to non-King fighters. The problem for King is the fact that the public is notinterested in seeing countless Pay-Per-View shows featuring Kings Heavies in dull and boring fights.

King realizes he doesn’t have the most talented group of heavyweights in history. That is why he has brought Golota back from the dead, attempted to put Evander Holyfield back in the title picture, and is looking to sign any decent heavyweight he can find (Gerald Nobles, Owen Beck, etc.). Additionally King may be forced to throw some of his cruiserweights like Wayne Braithwaite and Kelvin Davis into the heavyweight fray. All of his stunts having failed King, holds three belts but has no control over the heavyweights the public is excited about and who can make him money; the Klitschko brothers, James Toney, the
suspect Joe Mesi, the prospect Samuel Peter and the washed-up Mike Tyson.

If King is going to make some significant money in the heavyweight division he is going to have to do business with fighters outside of his control. Obviously the Klitschko brothers would bring the most money to the table, but King may not want to risk one of his belt-holders losing to Klitschko, so he may approach the Klitschko camp with a Rahman fight. If Rahman loses, King does not lose a belt, still will make a significant payday, and at the end of the day even though Rahman doesn’t hold a belt, he is probably the best matched King fighter to take on Klitschko. HBO has also hinted that they are interested in a Klitschko-Rahman match-up. The option also exists to lure the Klitschko camp into a business-deal by offering Wladimir Klitschko a title shot, he is seen as beatable and offering him a title-shot may enhance Vitali to do business with King on behalf of his brother.

With James Toney returning in April; a lot of people are interested in an all-Michigan Byrd-Toney match-up. The fighters themselves have been trying to use the Best Damn Sports Show Period on Fox Sports Net to market the fight to entice King. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting on that match-up, but a Toney victory in April will put him in line to be the second Klitschko opponent of 2005.

Expect to see more bad King cards featuring his heavyweights in 2005. The only hope that exists for Kings belt holders is seeing them being forced by the sanctioning bodies to enforce mandatory challengers or King signing new talent.

With the demise of Dominick Guinn, and the uncertain status of Mesi, look for the hottest heavyweight rising stars in 2005 to be the hard-hitting Nigerian Samuel Peter, a new crop of Russian Heavies, and Main Events Promotions properties Calvin Brock and Malik Scott.

Umar ben-Ivan Lee may be contacted at

Article posted on 12.12.2004

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