Three heavyweights who need to step it up in '05
By Aaron Imholte (January 11, 2004) 
Photo © Stephen Jones, BRC
All too often in the boxing world an undefeated prospect will receive mass acclaim from fans and members of the media on his way up, only to be exposed when he cashes in and takes that big championship fight with very little other big fights on his young resume. The days of an undefeated Joe Frazier climbing through the professional ranks and gradually stepping over guys like Oscar Bonavena and Jerry Quarry before winning his title from Jimmy Ellis and eventually taking the linear crown from Ali seem to be over.

In this sport, as we all know, big name promoters have had control for 20 years and are only interested in the dollar signs a big fight between an old champion and young lion will bring. This is why you see fights like Lewis-Grant and Holmes-Cooney.

So how do we avoid this happening today, when we need a young gun to step up and thrust boxing back near the mainstream? Find a happy medium between the Michael Grants, who are thrust into the spotlight, and the Audley Harrison’s who are coddled to the point where their career is over before they get their shot. So here are three heavyweight fighters I would like to see take gradual steps to a 2006 title shot.

1. Samuel Peter: A guy I have been high on for a year now was taking positive gradual steps to becoming an elite heavyweight by beating Charles Shufford, Jovo Pudar, and finally KTFOing Jeremy Williams last month. Now Peter is taking a step backwards by fighting Yanqui Diaz, a guy with 14 fights of pro experience and who’s only big win was over an out of shape Juan Carlos Gomez. While I appreciate his work ethic, I think Peter should get back to his old rabblerousing and talk of fighting any contender, any place, and at any time.

Who he should fight in 2005: Diaz in this month, Lance Whitaker in March, Davarryl Williamson in June, Larry Donald in September and Jameel Mccline in December.

2. Nicolay Valuev: The time has come for this behemoth Russian to prove the skeptics wrong, or to confirm their skepticism. Valuev has been charged by his critics for being big and big alone. They say he lacks fundamental boxing skills and being 7 feet tall is his only attribute. He stepped up his opposition somewhat by fighting Gerald Nobles in 2004 and winning by DQ, but now he needs to capitalize and come Stateside for some stepping stone fights against tier one opposition. Will his size be enough? Or will he be the Joel Pryzbilla of boxing.

Who he should fight in 2005: Attila Levin in February, Kirk Johnson in May, Riddick Bowe in August, Lamon Brewster (I’m banking on Brewster not having a belt at this time) in November (pending a Valuev-Don King union).

3. Calvin Brock: The boxing banker is touted as the most fundamentally sound of these three mentioned fighters in the division. Brock was under the weather for his fight with Terry Smith and still turned in a decent performance. Brock can hit hard, avoid being hit too often and take a pretty hefty punch. That seems to be all you need in today’s heavyweight division, and then some. If there is one guy out there capable of winning a belt in 2005 not named Samuel Peter, it’s Brock. But since our theme right now is taking a conservative approach to a championship we will save a belt for Brock until 2006.

Who he should fight in 2005: Cliff Etienne in January, Evander Holyfield in April, Kali Meehan in July, and Hasim Rahman in December (presuming Rahman loses to Klitschko, as he should).
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