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Time to make light of heavyweight dilemma

Jun 10, 2008 7:00 PM

Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | There is another off-weekend on the boxing calendar with nothing close to action the following weekend.

And I get paid the big bucks just to fill up this space with no fights to pick.

To demonstrate my mental agility, how about a discussion of the heavyweight division? I know, after watching Wladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov this year partially unify titles, these were two so-called "champions." One of them was, and still is reputed No. 1 in the division.

Do you feel a good snooze coming on?

Don’t blame you, but reading about them may not be as bad as watching them pretend to fight.

Two things stand out on the barren landscape – heavyweights are bigger than they used to be and, for the most part, speak heavily accented English. Few talk American.

Most large Americans, like Jameel McCline or Lamont Brewster, would probably not qualify for "Dancing With Stars," or whatever that program is called. Yeah, Shannon Briggs could move okay, but he had problems jabbing and breathing at the same time.

Two big guys from the Ukraine, the Brothers Karamazov – er, Klitschkos – are not clods, but they have other Achilles’ heels. Vitali, the bigger and better of the two despite what most American pundits believe. can’t get out of the way of his own body. He’s either on the disabled list or running for mayor of Kiev.

Wladimir’s problem, which could be exposed again by a 9-2 underdog next month, is his chin. Do not for one moment believe Emanuel Steward’s blatherings that Wladimir could be the best heavyweight since Goliath.

Wladimir has little faith in his Achilles’ chin. He can dominate a slick boxer like prime Chris Byrd because Byrd was no puncher. But his three losses were all by knockout and most notably, perhaps, was the 307-second destruction by Corrie Sanders, a South African golfer who in effect was just playing through.

Sanders was a 6-foot-4 southpaw of little distinction whose occasional good results were acquired against aged opposition and were more than balanced by knockout losses to Hasim Rahman. Okay, even Lennox Lewis could lose to the Rock, but Nate Tubbs?

The Sanders debacle, followed by Wladimir’s stoppage by Lamont Brewster and his chinny passages against DaVarryl Williamson and Samuel Peter, could be on his mind when he faces one of his "mandatory" challengers, Tony Thompson, July 12 in Hamburg. Thompson is 36, but he didn’t turn pro until 2000. The thing about him is he’s a 6-foot-5 southpaw about 20 pounds heavier than Sanders was.

HBO is very pertinent. Name all the good fighters the Klitschko brothers have beaten and you probably could count them on Chris Byrd’s hand. But HBO has led the cheering section so well that the American public has somewhat swallowed the sugar-coated tones of Jim Lampley.

Just think of all the great fighters Muhammad Ali faced – from Sonny Liston, Cleveland Williams, Floyd Patterson, Jimmy Ellis, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Joe Frazier (two more times), George Foreman and on and on.

You think Jimmy Young couldn’t have handled Sultan Ibragimov?

What’s nice is that next week we can discuss the June 21 showdown between Chris Arreola and Chazz Witherspoon, two of the leading young American heavies, instead of bemoaning the fate of the division.