People come and go, talking more of Michelangelo more than they do of the state of the heavyweight division.
But maybe that’s about to
change. The once-upon-a-time glamour division of boxing will be getting a needed
infusion in the early months of 2008 — maybe not of talent, but at least of
It used to be the bigger they are, the harder they fool, but fight fans have grown accustomed to getting their action in the lighter weights. There’s probably more talent in the mitts of a few 115-pound superflyweights than there is in the entire heavyweight division, and let’s not get into welterweights.
But the big boys will at least be busy and it’s an old axiom that fights make fights. We just might get lucky in 2008 and witness a kind of renaissance of the heavyweight division.
It could start next weekend in Berlin when two undefeated newcomers meet in an "elimination" match to become the next challenger for the IBF champion, currently Wladimir Klitschko.
Alexander Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic champion, has had only 14 pro fights, but his connections have been confident enough to put him in with Larry Donald, whom he virtually shut out, and Chris Byrd, whom he beat up and stopped. He may not be a great puncher, but at 225 or so pounds, he is about 10 bigger than the light-hitting American he faces, Eddie Chambers.
Never having seen Povetkin, it’s hard for me to endorse laying 5/1 on him against the slick Chambers, who is 30-0 but with no great power (16 KO).
Chambers is quick and knows his way around the ring. In his last two starts, he has outpointed Dominick Guinn and Calvin Brock.
Having seen Chambers, I can not endorse him at the buyback rate of 3/1. He will not get the benefit of the doubt on any scorecards while fighting on Povetkin’s home turf.
The Russian is promoted by
Germans. Chambers will make some early trouble, but Povetkini will eventually
pass this test to become the mandatory challenger for Wladimir Klitschko.
The youngest of the Kiev brothers is acknowledged as the No. 1 heavyweight in the world right now, though he spent 2007 on somewhat of a hiatus, facing only Ray Austin and Lamon Brewster. But next month, Wlad has a much more meaningful test, against an undefeated "champion," Sultan Ibragimov, who holds WBO recognition as title-holder.
Ibragimov won that belt last year
from Shannon Briggs, who put on one of the worst performances ever seen by a
title-holder. Ibragimov also beat the dusty remains of Evander Holyfield and
Javier Mora in 2007, but the reason he is a huge underdog (Klitschko is -600,
Sultan +400) is underlined by his lucky draw in 2006 with Austin, whom Wlad
knocked out in two last year.
The WBC has as many "champions" (3) as all the other alphabets.
Oleg Maskaev, its regular champion, finally gets back in the ring to face its "interim" champion, Samuel Peter, who became quite devalued when knocked down three times in his last start by Jameel McCline.
qSuddenly, it appears that the
hard-hitting Maskaev, who seems capable of beating Hasim Rahman and not much
else, has a chance March 8 in Cancun. Peter has been held at -450, Maskaev +300.
Waiting in the wings, maybe, is the current WBC heavyweight champion "emeritus," Vitali Klitschko, if he ever gets healthy enough to fight again.
There’s another fight next month, in Nuremberg, where a couple of former title-holders, 7-foot Nikolai Valuev and Sergei Liahkovich, meet to become the mandatory challenger for the WBA champion, at last spotting Ruslan Chagaev. Valuev, who is coming off punching a 61-year-old security guard in St. Petersburg, is -290, Liahkovich plus $2.30.
Valuev denies punching the guard.
"Just imagine what would have happened to that old man if I really punched him," he said.
Probably the same that will
happen if he lands against Liahkovich. No big deal.
There are no Thrillas in Manila coming up any time soon, but the activity should at least keep the heavyweights from falling off the planet.