|Ruslan Chagaev Boxing’s Forgotten Man
By Julian Kasdin (Jan 18, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
Some segments of the boxing world will spend January 19 looking into the past. For those of us more interested in the sport’s future, our eyes will be fixed on the first title defense by WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev, 23-0-1 (17), against Matt Skelton, 21-1 (18), in a fight that should have been picked up by American television.
Chagaev is possibly the most ignored man in the heavyweight division. If he were an American, this hard hitting, 29-year-old champion would be all over the boxing media. He is undefeated, has a title, and has beat John Ruiz, Vladimir Virchis,
and Nikolai Valuev all within his last four fights. Throw in his ring generalship, mobility, and excellent boxing skills and you have one of the best fighters in the heavyweight division. Now he is taking on Matt Skelton, a former kickboxing champion and all around stern challenge, yet you’d be hard pressed to hear anything about this fight in the American media.
Skelton, a relatively crude but effective banger, has spent his career as a boxer on the British circuit. He has back-to-back wins over Michael Sprott and Danny Williams, and has consistently shown his heavy-hands by dispatching the vast majority of his foes within the distance. Against Chagaev, he is arguably fighting his toughest and most experienced opponent to date.
How will this fight play out? To be frank I can only see it going one way, a Chagaev victory. I do not mean to underrate Skelton, I think he can provide a tough fight for virtually anyone in the division, but he has not stood across from anyone in the ring that approaches Chagaev. Ruslan is more mobile, he is faster, an accurate puncher, and better schooled. Skelton might very well have an edge in power, but my hunch is that it is a slight one. Even so, Ruslan has, in Virchis,
fought a fighter with tremendous knockout power. I tend to think that Chagaev will play it smart, using his mobility and counterpunching ability to his advantage, landing jabs and lefts with the occasional hook on Skelton, before moving out of his range. The end result, I believe, will be a late TKO victory for Ruslan Chagaev.
Questions or comments,
e-mail Julian at: Alcaldemb@aol.com
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