|Wladimir Klitschko's Top 5 Replacement Options
By Brandon Estrict, Doghouse Boxing (June 5, 2009)
Saturday, June 20th, approximately two weeks from now, was supposed to be the day the boxing world was treated to one of the more important Heavyweight clashes in years, a “real” Championship fight without a pre-determined outcome. However, in keeping true to form, what had the potential to be a momentous occasion capable of resonating across the boxing world and inching the big guys back toward relevance, ends up another blemish on the division. The Heavyweight ranks are, at least, consistent if nothing else, as perpetual disappointment has long ruled the day.
The latest blunder at the heart of these circumstances comes as talented, brash Briton, and former undisputed Cruiserweight Champion of the World, “The Hayemaker” David Haye, has been forced to withdraw from his eagerly anticipated Heavyweight Championship showdown with long-time division kingpin Wladimir Klitschko(or big brother Vitaly, depending on who you ask). It’s been reported to be a back injury suffered in training camp that Haye has been dealing with for the past few weeks causing him to pull out of the fight, although there’s been no official word on exactly what went wrong.
Haye, 22-1 with a remarkable 21 victories coming by way of a KO, had barked loud and long at the two-headed Klitschko monster for the better part of a year, itching to get his hands on either of the Brothers’ Champion well before establishing himself as a bona-fide Heavyweight contender(some will argue he still hasn’t done that). He’s hounded Wladimir in particular, showing up at events highlighted by the younger Klitschko’s appearance, persistently scolding and questioning the fighting integrity of Wlad, and eventually drawing the ire of big brother Vitaly after donning the infamous t-shirt, which depicted a
bloody Haye holding the severed of head of Wladimir toward the sky.
Everything culminated in Haye signing a unique 3-fight deal in which he would meet Wladimir first, a possible rematch next and ending with Vitaly. The first match-up, which was to have taken place in just over two weeks time, had garnered international attention. The smaller, but dangerous Haye, was thought by many to be a live dog, bringing an explosive combination of speed and power to the dance with the promise of an entertaining affair, Wlad detractor, and supporter alike, seemingly amused at the idea of someone that would bring the fight to the big man, testing that shaky chin that has failed him a time or two in the past. The build-up and excitement proved the bout’s legitimacy as a big fight, as nearly 30,000 tickets were sold within the first couple days of going on sale, and a near-sellout was expected at the 50,000-plus seat, Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
A promising, heavily-hyped event up in flames, all that stand in the aftermath of where the smoke was are questions. Will Team Klitshcko choose to reschedule the fight, waiting on David’s injury to heal? Team Haye has given them a date of July 11th for the bout to come off, promising Haye will be well enough to not only fight, but win. Team Klitschko, for now, will seemingly bypass the proposed post-ponement, and appear to be looking to secure a replacement for the injured “Hayemaker,” for the June 20 date. That’s where Doghouse Boxing comes in.
Dr. Steelhammer, 52-3 with 46 coming by way of, has a few options here that the people would just love to see, if we may suggest. Some legitimate options, some far-fetched, some ridiculous, but ALL would draw the casual and hardcore boxing fan, along with the media, back into the event, salvaging an otherwise bleak situation. Here are the top 5 fights that Wladimir should consider taking to fill the June 20th commitment:
NIKOLAY VALUEV 50-1 (34)
This is a fight years in the making. Valuev picked up a trinket in 2005, and has been the beneficiary of cautious management ever since. The 7-foot tall Russian Giant has made a career of being just that, extremely big, hairy and not so much fun to look at, and is known moreover as a side-show attraction than a serious, elite level, championship-caliber fighter. Still, he does hold that last trinket out there that isn’t in the possession of a Klitshcko and a fight with him would get the Heavyweight Division as close to unification as it can possibly get.
RUSLAN CHAGAEV 25-0-1 (17)
This is the man responsible for the one blemish on Valuev’s record, besting the Russian Giant two full years ago for that trinket you’re reading about. Problem is, he’s gone on to fight just two times since, and is rumored to have some sort of blood disorder, thus the sanctioning body he carried that belt for has somehow found an impasse that allowed them to give it back to Valuev. Alphabet organizations and shady practices? Go figure. Team Klitschko has brought up Chagaev as the lead candidate for the fight, but don’t hold your breath. Chagaev was supposed to meet Valuev in a rematch a week ago, but that bout was called off with something, apparently, being out of the ordinary in Chagaev’s pre-fight exam. A physical would be a more reliable source as to whether or not this fight comes off than a signed contract could be at this point.
JAMES “LIGHTS OUT” TONEY 71-6-3 (43)
Why not? Since moving to the division for good in 2003, James Toney has longed for the opportunity to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He almost did it in 2005, beating John Ruiz over 12 rounds, only to have the result changed to a no-decision after a post-fight drug test came back positive for steroids. Since then, he’s come up short against Hasim Rahman, and Samuel Peter in somewhat credible fights, and has beaten journeymen and guys under that in picking up a couple of bogus titles. In the end, none of those accomplishments or the hope of a competitive fight would be as driving a factor in seeing this fight as just the fact that it’s James Toney, one of the baddest men to ever wear a pair of boxing gloves. Toney at his best is easily the most skilled fighter of the bunch, but so far outgunned against a Klitschko that it probably wouldn’t make much difference. Still, this may be the most intriguing match-up to be made, to see how an old slickster in James Toney would deal with those physical disadvantages, and if Wladimir could finally be the guy to shut Toney’s “Lights Out,” once and for all. As he’d also be taking the fight on short notice, it would also be interesting to see which man comes to the ring the heavier fighter.
EVANDER HOLYFIELD 42-10-2 (27)
We all know Evander’s story by now. In one hand, you fear for his health if this fight were to come off, which isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, not with the name Evander brings to the promotion, but on the other hand you think maybe one more convincing loss may be all the urging he needs to get out of the ring before his facilities further degenerate.
PAUL WILLIAMS/GLENCOFFE JOHNSON 86-13-1 (60)
Talk about a couple of fighters who’re having trouble getting fights! Glen Johnson has been as slighted and overlooked as the great Patrick Ewing during the NBA’s Michael Jordan Era. Paul Williams in the same token has fought his last 4 fights in 4 different weight classes against a nobody, an also-ran and a couple of other guys no one wants to fight, because he himself can’t get anyone noteworthy to fight him. Maybe Klitshcko is finally that stand-up guy who gives both of these guys’ that chance, fighting both on the same night, one opponent after a 3 minute rest-period following the conclusion of the first fight. Team Williams/Johnson would hold about a sixty-pound weight advantage, Williams and Klitschko are even in reach at 81 inches from fist to fist, and the power would go to Klitshcko, though the chin is with Johnson. We say bring it on!
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