The heavyweight division in boxing is not what it used to be. It may even be as bad as it has ever been. The top two heavyweights, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, will not fight each other because mother disapproves. That leaves us with nothing to look forward to in terms of unifying the division. It also leaves us with terrible fights for heavyweight titles, such as Wladimir’s title defense against Hasim Rahman last Saturday.
Wladimir Defeats Rahman
Wladimir Klitschko basically won the fight by showing up. Rahman had nothing to offer in the ring and hasn’t had much to offer in the ring for quite some time. Check out Corey’s round-by-round coverage for the details. Read Round 1 and repeat. Rahman embarrassed himself. He landed only 30 total punches in 6-plus rounds. He didn’t try and spent most of the fight covered up with his back against the ropes.
Wladimir Klitschko didn’t prove anything new. He has a dominant jab and is currently the best heavyweight in the world. His fight with Rahman was a joke, but unfortunately it wasn’t the biggest gag in the heavyweight division this month. For that we will look ahead to this Saturday’s heavyweight title fight.
Nikolai Valuev vs. Evander Holyfield (WBA Heavyweight Title)
Money Line: Valuev -1100; Holyfield +600
Heavyweight boxing is such a joke that it is calling on all 46 years of Evander Holyfield for its next title match. The WBA placed Holyfield in their rankings with no justification other than making this fight for the title. Holyfield was an excellent champion and a fighter that is easy to root for. That’s why it is so difficult as a fan to watch Holyfield downfall. It is his choice to continue on and fight, as it is now his goal to become the oldest heavyweight champion of all-time. He failed in his last attempt in 2007 against Sultan Ibragimov but tries again against all 7 feet of Nikolai Valuev.
This is not an intriguing matchup. There is, of course, the storyline of Holyfield’s quest for the title but Valuev has been on such a streak of boredom that no one seems to care about the fight. Nikolai Valuev will get the win here, likely by TKO around the 9th round. The more pressing concern is that fights like this don’t happen any longer. The good news is that 2009 has a tiny amount of hope.
Vitali Klitschko Will Fight David Haye
WBC Heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko will make his first title defense against David Haye. The fight is scheduled for June in London, according to this AP post. If there is a fight to look forward to in the heavyweight division, this is it. Haye hasn’t sucked enough to create any disillusions concerning his abilities. Vitali looked good enough in his win over Sam Peter to show he still has some credibility in the division. This fight will be about whether Vitali Klitschko has what it takes to remain champion, or is David Haye for real in the heavyweight division.
David Haye made short work of unifying the titles in the cruiserweight division, doing so in only four months. Haye, 22-1 (21 KOs), has power and proved that it translates to the heavyweight division by dropping Monte Barret five times in his heavyweight debut last month. Vitali Klitschko will be a true test of Haye’s heavyweight merit.
The Best of the Rest
I’ve touched on David Haye, Valuev, and the Klitschkos, but what else is lurking on the horizon of the heavyweight division? There are a few undefeated heavyweights that could hold a title in 2009 and Ruslan Chagaev leads the pack. Chagaev was a champion but lost his title after he was unable to defend due to injury. He is coming back in February 2009 and already holds wins over Valuev and John Ruiz.
Alexander Povetkin is on a faster track to success as he has only been boxing professionally for four years. Povetkin is just 16-0 but has wins over Chris Byrd and American prospect Eddie Chambers. Chambers is not the only prospect from the United States as Chris Arreola is generation a lot of buzz. Arreola has been a little lackluster in his last few fights but he has raw aggression that warrants an audience. He will go down, but he goes down swinging. A fight between Arreola and Povetkin would be nice. Coincidentally, both won IBF Eliminator fights in 2008. Povetkin should get first dibs at Wladimir Klitschko but a stopoff with Arreola wouldn’t offend me.
That leaves us with the oldf stand-bys of the division. James Toney still thinks he has credibility but he struggled to defeat Fres Oquendo last weekend. I will always enjoy James Toney, more for his work outside of the ring, but his time to ride off into the sunset has come. He can transition nicely to that reality show that has been on my wishlist for years. Toney conqueror and Klitschko punching bag Samuel Peter was once the savior of the division but he cannot beat a Klitschko. That leaves him in an awkward spot. Peter is a fighter and wants to face the Klitschko Bros but it is fruitless. And fighting other fighters will only lead to another Klitschko beatdown. Peter needs to bide his time and hope the Klitschkos decide to retire in 2009.
Are there any heavyweights I’m missing here? Leave a comment if you feel I have left anyone out.