Two of the lackluster heavyweight division’s most lacking stalwarts meet again next Saturday. The good news seems to be that they will not be on American television.
These days, heavyweights should be bet and not seen. This is a pick’em fight that should have better action in the books than the ring.
Especially, if you recall the first meeting between Ruslan Chagaev, the WBAssinine’s champion "in recess" and "interim" or whatever titleholder, Nikolai Valuev, the 7-foot tower of mediocre from St. Petersburg, Russia. This isn’t Chagaev-Valuev redux – it’s more like an esophagus reflux.
In 2006, not a vintage year, Chagaev managed a majority decision over the then reigning WBA heavyweight champion. It was a year in which the southpaw from Uzbekistan, who now resides in Hamburg under the beady eyed Peter Kohl, also won a majority decision over Vladimir Vilchis and a split decision over John Ruiz.
There are 17 knockouts on Chagaev’s 25-0-1 record. The draw was "technical," when in 2002 the journeyman Rob Calloway suffered a cut from an accidental butt. Anyway, the southpaw would knock out the American stiff in two rounds of a 2006 rematch. But Chagaev has never been able to stop a high-class heavyweight – even if he could find one.
What I’m saying is he can’t punch.
On the other hand, the 6-foot-1 Chagaev, despite an 11-inch reach disadvantage, managed to neutralize the Russian Giant. This, too, is no great accomplishment.
Valuev has also been the recipient of tainted decisions. In his last start (which I refused to watch because I have some fond memories of what Evander Holyfield used to be) he was supposedly completely outclassed by the 46-year-old American but instead was given a majority decision last Dec. 20.
Earlier last year, Valuev won a split decision against the unfortunately ubiquitous Ruiz, against whom he had taken a majority decision in 2005.
At least, Valuev has been busy. The oft-injured Chagaev got in only six dull rounds against Carl Davis Drumond early this year before he had to stop because of cuts from an accidental butt. Chagaev, at 30 five years Valuev’s junior, is a bit quicker (slow-drying paint is faster than the Giant).
I suspect Chagaev might be the crowd favorite, so if there’s any lean, it would have to be towards him. Besides, who could bet on Valuev?
Thank you, HBO!
More befitting a holiday weekend, there are a couple of real fights on television next Saturday as part of an HBO show from Hollywood, Florida. In both, the chalk is a bit too expensive to heartily recommend against live underdogs, but at least there should be some action inside the ring.
Andre Berto, an undefeated welterweight titleholder (so he’s not a "real" champion, the kid can fight), defends against a junior welter titleholder, the good-punching Juan Urango. Laying around 3-1 or 7-2 on Berto, whose chin has not been completely certified, seems a bit risky. Being bigger, faster and probably stronger should make Berto the winner.
Andre showed some mettle in starting this year on a high note by outpointing (just one point on two official cards) the steady veteran Luis Collazo, closing well. Urango, whose only pro loss was on points clearly to Ricky Hatton in 2007, is a southpaw. However, Berto showed he could survive tough lefties when he beat Collazo.
At about the same 3-1 or 7-2 price, I would have lots more faith backing Alfredo Angulo, one of the bright 154-pound prospects who has not been arrested. James Kirkland was originally going to be on this card before the paroled slugger got caught with an inappropriate toy (uh, gun).
Angulo is in with former titleholder Kermit Cintron, who has had anxiety attacks in previous big fights. But let’s not be negative. This matchup is not about any of Cintron’s weaknesses. Angulo is simply explosive, notching 12 knockouts on his 15-0 pro record.
Angulo could be really special, especially if my suspicions about having a surprisingly good defense is confirmed against the hard-punching Cintron.
Meanwhile, June will not be busting out all over on its first weekend. So next week, I’ll be reviewing the acclaimed "documentary" film, "Tyson."
Reserve a copy, now.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Michael Katz