By Mikko Salo: This does not happen often. The top three fighters of boxing`s marquee division engaging in combat during a stretch of three consecutive weekends. Even if the match-ups leave something to be desired, the boxing fans should embrace the heavyweight festivities about to take place. Here at SecondsOut we will, with a four-part feature scanning the heavyweight landscape before and after the Top-Three-Action in Two-Weeks-Time.
All three contests take place in Germany, the modern day epicenter of heavyweight boxing. The events will have approximately 75 000 live spectators and hundreds of millions of TV viewers worldwide. The Undisputed Champions are Ukrainian, their opponents French and British. The third contest is fought between a Russian and a Serbian-born German with the winner emerging as the most credible challenger to the Heavyweight Throne. Such a complete European domination of the most coveted prize in sports is unheard of, and it is happening right in front of our eyes.
Before the top three take the ring starting this weekend, there has already been some significant action in the top ranks of the heavyweight division in early 2012. On 14th January The Ring #10 contender Kubrat Pulev (15-0, 7 KO) scored a 10th round retirement-stoppage over Michael Sprott. Two weeks after that #7 contender Denis Boytsov (30-0, 25 KO) continued ploughing through laughable opposition by KOing Darnell Wilson in the 4th round and #8 contender Ruslan Chagaev (28-2-1, 17 KO) scored an 8-round points win over Kertson Manswell.
Besides the upcoming three big fights there is plenty of quality heavyweight action to unfold before March is through. While #4 contender Eddie Chambers (36-2, 18 KO) continues to struggle with injuries, the most credible American heavyweight is #9 contender Chris Arreola (34-2, 29 KO). He will start his 2012 campaign this Saturday in Corpus Christi, Texas against Eric Molina. The US fight fans will get to witness another top heavyweight returning to action on March 24th, when #3 contender Tomasz Adamek (44-2, 28 KO) steps in the ring in Brooklyn, New York against an opponent to be announced soon. A week after that the European belt will get a new owner with Kubrat Pulev and #5 contender Alexander Dimitrenko scheduled to clash for the vacant title on 31st March in Kiel, Germany. If that fight materializes (Dimitrenko may not be very interested in taking on Pulev) it will be the first between two top 10 heavyweights since Klitschko vs Adamek in September 2011.
But that is enough about the wanna-be-champs, the focus shifts now to next Saturday`s main event. The Klitschko Brothers will put their Undisputed Heavyweight Championship on the line twice in two weeks, starting with Vitali`s portion of the Crown, when he takes on unranked Dereck Chisora on Saturday in Münich`s Olympiahalle. The ever-entertaining opponent has talked a good game and actually sounds fairly genuine when promising to take the fight to Vitali and not run away from the Champ like his countryman David Haye did against Wladimir last July. The older Klitschko is not one to shy away from toe-to-toe combat so we might be in for a treat for as long as it lasts.
Dereck Chisora comes to fight, lets his mouth go before and after his bouts and seems to have no fear of the big Ukrainian. He is in many ways a very suitable opponent for the big brother. Unfortunately, though, he is only that: an opponent, not a challenger.
What really makes it hard to believe in Chisora`s chances is that he has lost his last two meaningful fights, a British and Commonwealth title contest against Tyson Fury and a European title fight to The Ring #6 contender Robert Helenius. The Chisora camp explained the Fury fight with Del Boy fighting overweight (261 lb), having experienced some personal problems during the time leading up to the fight. But then there is the December 2011 fight against Helenius that “earned” the Briton the Klitschko-payday. The failure to win that one is not easy to explain, and I am not talking about home-cooked decisions here.
Chisora was in top condition (243 lb) for the Helenius fight and stayed on the gas for most of the twelve rounds of hard fought action. By all accounts Chisora put forth a gallant effort only to lose by a split decision that many chastised as a result of the fight being held in Helenius`s home turf in Helsinki. Eventually, though, the events that unfolded in the hours and weeks after the fight exposed Chisora, not Helenius. And trust me, Vitali Klitschko liked what he saw.