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01 AUGUST 2014

 

State of the Heavyweights: Top-Three In Action




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.

 

 


Helenius hurt his right hand in the first round of the Chisora fight. With that right hand the Finn also visibly rocked Chisora in the first round. For the rest of the contest Helenius was able to use the right effectively only sporadically. After the fight it was also revealed that Helenius came into the ring with an injured right shoulder he had hurt six weeks before the bout. Whether it was a calculated risk or pure arrogance from the Helenius camp to come into a European title fight with a bum shoulder can be debated, but the fact is Helenius had to undergo shoulder surgery in January and is not expected to return before late summer. Some reports have even stated that the injury might be career threatening. And by the way, he beat Chisora with one arm.

 

This leaves us with a question: If Dereck Chisora was not able to beat a one-armed Robert Helenius, what chance does he have against a two-armed Vitali Klitschko? The answer: None, whatsoever. And Vitali Klitschko picked him as an opponent because of it.

 

The Heavyweight Champion Dr. Vitali Klitschko, The Ring #10 Pound-for-Pound, is a bona-fide boxing legend, one of the all-time great heavyweights. He is also a very intelligent man. What he and his camp have seen in Dereck Chisora is a media-friendly quote machine and a fighter with crowd-pleasing style. He is also a fighter whose punching power was not enough to beat a shaky 23-year-old prospect who got floored in his next fight by a Neven Pajkic or not enough to hurt a one-armed Nordic Nightmare last year. And the Londoner became marketable via this valiant split decision “robbery” loss that put him back on the heavyweight map after the miserable showing against Fury.

 

Chisora`s last meaningful victory is from September 2010, over Sam Sexton. In September 2011, Vitali Klitschko pummeled #3 heavyweight contender, former Cruiserweight Champion and light heavyweight titlist Tomasz Adamek into submission over ten completely one-sided rounds. Adamek and Chisora are the same height. Adamek has a reach one inch longer than Chisora. Adamek is faster than Chisora and has a more versatile punch arsenal. Adamek is way more experienced and battle-tested than Chisora. About the only attribute Chisora would have over Adamek if they ever fought each other is that he is naturally about 25 pounds heavier than the Polish folk hero.

 

I congratulate Dereck Chisora for his big payday. I also congratulate him on a job well done in selling the fight, he is always reliable on that one. I am looking forward to seeing Chisora lay it all on the line against one of the most dominant Heavyweight Champions of all time. And I actually believe that he will really do that and not just talk about it. But I also believe that he is going to get knocked out.

 

February 15, 2012



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