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15 NOVEMBER 2018


State of the Heavyweights: A Fall 2011 to Wait for

Wladimir and Vitali are top two heavyweights
Wladimir and Vitali are top two heavyweights

By Mikko Salo: In July, Wladimir Klitschko took the WBA belt from David Haye and The Klitschko Brothers became Undisputed Heavyweight Champions of the World. We finally have clarity again in boxing`s premier division. The all-time great Klitschkos now set up for a series of defenses against the best heavyweight contenders. Their aim: to cement their legacy as not only the greatest pair of brothers ever to lace on boxing gloves, but as individual fighters who are both yearning to earn their places among the top 10 of all-time heavyweights. In the other corner, the chance of getting a crack at one of the brothers and - in the case of a surprise victory - of edging closer to The Undisputed Heavyweight Championship, is compelling to a load of rising contenders.

The first act of this very interesting rest-of-the-year in the heavyweight division was played last weekend in Messehalle, Erfurt, Germany. The Ring Magazine #3, undefeated former Olympic champion, Russia`s Alexander Povetkin (22-0, 15KO) and #5 Uzbek Ruslan Chagaev (27-2-1, 17KO), whose only previous loss had come in 2009 when he fought for the vacant Ring Magazine Championship with Wladimir Klitschko, clashed in a very competitive fight. Povetkin prevailed via a unanimous decision and further enhanced his position as one of the top contenders in the division.

On the same card in another high-level heavyweight confrontation, the rising Finnish prospect, #9 rated Robert "Nordic Nightmare" Helenius (16-0, 11KO) stopped former beltholder Belarussian Siarhei Liakhovich (25-4, 16KO) with a brutal 9th round TKO after a very punch-happy, entertaining contest.

With their hard-earned career-best victories both Povetkin and Helenius set themselves up for bigger showdowns in the near future. Let`s hope that trainer Teddy Atlas now feels his protegé is ready to challenge one of the Undisputed Champions because there really is no one else for Povetkin to credibly fight without getting branded a complete chicken, having already backed out from fighting Wladimir Klitschko.

For 27-year-old Helenius who has fought professionally for only three years the most logical next step would be to challenge #7 Alexander Dimitrenko (31-1, 21KO) for the European title provided that the Ukrainian-born German gets through his 24th September "defense" against 36-year-old British journeyman Michael Sprott (36-16, 17KO) in Dima-Sportcenter, Hamburg, Germany. I expect we will be hearing soon from Team Sauerland about Helenius`s near future plans.

The Fall of 2011 is full of intrigue for the heavyweight division. The main event will naturally be the 10th September megafight between #1 rated Vitali Klitschko (42-2, 39KO) and #2 Tomasz Adamek (44-1, 28KO) of Poland. The big brother makes the first defense of the Klitschko Brothers` Undisputed Heavyweight Championship in fitting surroundings with over 40 000 screaming fans in Stadion Miejski, Wroclaw, Poland. The former Ring Magazine Cruiserweight Champion and light heavyweight beltholder Adamek has an iron chin and a fearless attitude, so we might be in for an entertaining first defense of The Klitschko Brothers` Undisputed Heavyweight Championship, although it is very hard to see an upset brewing in this one. Both fighters will be in excellent shape and Vitali will definitely test the granite in Adamek`s chin while the Polish challenger`s speed may pose some unforeseen problems for the 30 pounds heavier and 5,5 inches taller Ukrainian Champion.

In an outskirt of the heavyweight division called The United States of America there will also be some significant action during this fall. On October 28th, #6 rated Eddie Chambers (36-2, 18KO) will be facing his countryman and training partner, soon-to-be-40-year-old Tony Thompson (36-2, 24KO) in a battle of former Wladimir Klitschko punching bags, the fight being held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On the line is another crack at the younger Klitschko`s Ring Magazine Championship and his alphabet belts.

Speaking of the main man in the division, everybody is naturally waiting for a word from The Ring Magazine Champion Wladimir Klitschko. He is mulling his options after comfortably handling #4 David Haye (25-2, 23KO) in July and completing the brothers` quest for The Undisputed Heavyweight Championship. The options for him are many at this stage. Several names have been tossed out, including the undefeated 23-year-old British prospect Tyson Fury (15-0, 10KO) or for a possible fight in the US, #10 rated former Vitali Klitschko victim Chris Arreola (33-2, 28KO).

The talk about the next Wladimir challenger aside, the most meaningful outcome of the past weekend concerning The Champion`s future options was definitely Povetkin`s decision over Chagaev. Wladimir?s defense of The Klitschko Brothers` Undisputed Championship in Moscow or Kiev against the undefeated Alexander Povetkin would be a certain megafight with two former Olympic champions from neighbouring countries squaring off before huge crowds of enthusiastic fight fans. The Undisputed Heavyweight Championship has to be defended against the best in the division. That is why Wladimir Klitschko-Alexander Povetkin has to be made. Let`s hope they get the numbers right and announce the fight between the Champion and #3 contender during this fall 2011 to wait for.

August 28, 2011

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