Top 5 Young Guns: Heavyweight Future
By Julian Kasdin (November 27, 2005)  
Chazz 'Mensa with Muscle' Witherspoon
With the retirement of Vitali Klitschko and with fighters like Chris Byrd, Hasim Rahman, John Ruiz and James Toney probably retiring in the near future, I think now is a good time to look into the future. The future I am referring to is not the immediate one, where guys like Calvin Brock, Wladimir Klitschko, Lamon Brewster, Samuel Peter, Audley Harrison and Nicolay Valuev will be titleholders and top contenders, and hopefully one champion, but years from now when many of these fighters will be looking at their own retirements or be past their competitive best. No, this prospect watch covers fighters fresh out of the amateurs, true young guns, and could possibly produce a future champion.

The first prospect and one that should be more familiar to Americans is Jason Estrada, 4-0 (1). Estrada was the American super heavyweight representative to the 2004 Olympics, and has fought better then average club fighters as a professional. Not a single one of his opponents had a below .500 record, and while Estrada lacks power he does possess deceptive speed and very good skills. What could be called into question is his fighting mentality, as he virtually gave up in the Olympics when he thought he could not beat his Cuban adversary. Estrada, at 6’1”, is not as tall as the new class of giant heavyweights, but at 245-250lbs he has the mass of someone like Samuel Peter. Estrada, however, is more like Chris Byrd then Peter, and if he continues to win might become this new generation’s Byrd or Toney, although probably never as good as either.

Alexander Povetkin, 4-0 (3), is not a name familiar to most Americans, but he was the 2004 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight. Povetkin is almost a living amateur legend, having apparently never lost a tournament in three years. Povetkin also has proven himself as a kick boxer, winning both amateur and professional world championships, something that has given him valuable experience in fighting without headgear and oversized gloves. Povetkin is a highly skilled and physically strong fighter. There are some concerns that he lacks true professional power, and at 6’2” 220-225lbs he is certainly not the biggest of heavies. He has, like Estrada, fought better then your regular crop of club fighters, knocking out all but one thus far. To be fair to Povetkin the one he did no KO, Stephane Tessier, spent the entire fight either avoiding Povetkin or covering up, and it is very hard to knockout someone that just wants to survive to the final bell. Povetkin has the size of most heavies, such as Rahman and Brewster and Brock, and might end up having comparable power to the first two. If that is the case Povetkin could go very far as a professional, and might do as other gold medalists before him in achieving the coveted position as heavyweight champion.

Back on American shores we have Chazz ‘Mensa with Muscle’ Witherspoon, 9-0 (6), a talented and tall, 6’4”, young gun. Chazz is by all accounts a talented young man, and at close to 230lbs, aptly fills out his 6’4” frame. While his competition thus far as been weaker then that of the first two prospects, he also does not have the extensive amateur background. Chazz has sometime to learn the pro-game, but his current lack of power against sub-500 opposition might come back to plague him later in his career. Chazz, though a natural heavy, has a punch closer to that of a cruiserweight, albeit a big one and that might put him in the same position as similarly built Juan Carlos Gomez. Hopefully Chazz does better at heavyweight then the gifted Cuban.

Michael Marrone, 11-0 (9), has been garnering more attention as of late. The 6’2” 20-year-old is the second youngest fighter on the list, and therefore should be in no rush when it comes to advancing his career. Marrone has been slowly stepping up his competition, with his best win coming over 16-6 former cruiserweight Forrest Neal by TKO3. Marrone has good speed for a heavy and some decent foot work. He does not have the amateur background of either Povetkin or Estrada, but seems to be learning well as a professional. At 210-215 pounds he is not very large, but has some time to further fill out his frame. If he stays dedicated and continues to improve, and his power remains a factor, then this young man has the ability to possibly become a better version, albeit smaller, of Corrie Sanders.

The final prospect on my list is Denis Boytsov, 10-0 (10). At only 19 he is the youngest fighter on the list, and at 6’1” and 210lbs he is also the smallest. That being said, given his age he has a lot of time to learn the professional game, and already has the good fortune of an extensive junior amateur career. His young age also means that when all is said and done, this young man may weigh closer to 225, making him more in line with the size of your average heavyweight. Boytsov, like Marrone and Witherspoon, has fought an overall lower quality of fighter then Estrada and Povetkin, but like Marrone he has recently tackled his toughest test to date in a one round knockout win over 15-3 Ihar Shukala. Boytsov has decent defense, though it hasn’t really been tested since only one of his fights has gone past the first round, that fight ending via second round knockout, and he does have decent foot work. What seems to be his biggest advantages right now are his bone crunching power, which is exceptional for a heavy his size, and his varied offensive arsenal. Boytsov also seems to have a clear killer instinct, going for the knockout when he senses his opponent is hurt. What the young man does need to learn is slightly better head movement, and to sharpen up his punches slightly. That being said, he does go to the body, and viciously, usually a good sign that a young fighter understand the advantages of body work. Hopefully his power continues to get better as he fills out his frame, and his skills continue to get better as he has more exposure to the professional game. If he continues to do well he might be, assuming he has a chin, the next generation’s more skilled version of Lamon Brewster.

I would advise all of our readers to keep an eye out on these young fighters as we look for a new man to bring prominence to boxing’s flagship division. One of these young men could be the champ we are waiting for, and all of them could provide us with a new exciting and competitive heavyweight era.
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