By Andrew Rivera: Last week I gave my prediction on the WBO Welterweight title fight between champion Manny Pacquiao and Chris Algeri. As you probably know by now, at secondsout,our correspondents give or prediction on the outcome on the most significant fights, of the particular weekend. Most of my friends or emails from fans sometimes ask me how come I rarely give my pick on the heavyweight championship of the world? My answer is I don’t know who the heck Klitschko is fighting.
In the USA, us Americans outside boxing people or the die hard fans, don’t know who the heavyweight champion of the world is. We aren’t exposed to the likes of the top contenders like Kubrat Pulev, Alex Leapai, Francisco Pianeta and Mariusz Wach, much less know how to pronounce their names.
The most prestigious title in the world has lost its sparkle in the last decade or so and not since the Tyson, Holyfield and even Lennox Lewis days have Americans not paid attention to the heavyweight title.
Is it the current IBF/WBA/WBO and IBO champion Wladimir Klitschko’s fault? No.
He is a good fighter with the awesome physical tools to dominate as he has proved by successfully defending his titles 17 title times. Will his reign be considered one of the best ever? Probably not.
Joe Louis’ 25 consecutive title defense will last forever, Klitschko has his version of European bums of the month just like Louis had in the states.
The second longest heavyweight title reign was Larry Holmes 20, where he dominated in the 80’s, even he was a house hold name considering he was not as brash and colorful as his predecessor "The greatest of all time " Muhammad Ali.
We all know the fight that had the world stopping for a short time was when Joe Louis took on Germany’s Max Schemling at a time when global implications were at its highest. No one will forget Ali’s monumental fights with legends George Foreman and Joe Frazier or Larry Holmes title defense with Gerry Cooney. I hate to say it but now the title isn’t that important, certainly not to the American fight fan.
The heavyweight title meant something a few years ago!
Back to Klitschko and the heavyweight crown today. As mentioned earlier it isn’t his fault on how times have changed. Klitschko has fought his share of who’s who on the American side albeit not the most decorated, but the likes of Chris Byrd, Lamon Brewster, Ray Mercer and Hasim Rahman were champions but not overly dominate.
Wladimir’s toughest opponent during his reign is a fighter he will never fight, his brother Vitali, who took on the last great champion in Lennox Lewis.
Vitali would go on to eventually win the WBC title Lewis vacated when he retired.
Heavyweights in the United States haven’t flourished in the past decade, due to a lot of things. The USA amateur boxing program has declined in recent times. Exposure is another thing that has changed even with introduction of social media. There was a time when fighters were seen on something called free tv and we would see them grow and gain popularity, ie Tyson, Holyfield. These two were seen most of their early careers on tv without even winning Gold medals. Tyson didn’t even make the USA team but free TV made him a household name. Holyfield as we know made his name in the Olympics, he too became a household name due to free tv.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no YouTube, yet Americans knew who they were.
The top two heavyweights in the United States now are Chris Arreola who lost in his bid twice for the heavyweight crown and Deontay Wilder who is set to fight WBC champ Bermane Stiverne. These two had great amateur backgrounds before turning professional.
The only thing I can blame Klitschko for is his style and not being aggressive when obviously he has the tools to destroy his opponents. It could be he is gun shy from being ko’d before a few times, but I’m of the reason it’s the European stand up style.
Let’s pray the boxing Gods that Klitschko doesn’t retire for a while because then chaos will happen with all the belts vacant and then the alphabet organizations will divide the belts all over who knows where.
Hopefully in his next defense or two and if Wilder can get by Stiverne the two can clash and maybe just maybe cause excitement for a heavyweight title fight in the United States.
Until then the title has lost its prestige.
November 26, 2014