Philip H. Anselmo: Is The WBA HWT Title On A Different Planet?
Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, on a remote planet, there’s a passive, prehistoric look-a-like named Nicolay Valuev, the present, and grateful owner of the once prestigious WBA heavyweight title, with the belt triple-velcroed around his 80”, curly-haired, doughy gut. Except, if you check the current WBA heavy ratings, “The Southpaw George Chuvalo—Minus the Action”, boring Ruslan Chagaev, is also listed as the champ. I know about the “Champion in Recess” shit, but these two goons are supposed to fight it out again, in a “hardly-anticipated” rematch for full ownership of the WBA belt. Chagaev won the first fight in a scrap that made Pinklon Thomas out-pointing Tim Witherspoon for the WBC title in 1984 look like an action-packed, exciting brawl.
You can’t, and won’t see either of the aforementioned guys fight on American TV either (thank Bacchus), which makes thin gs even more sarcastically compelling. Valuev made a sasquatch-like sighting in October 2007 on HBO, as more a sideshow curiosity, sort of like when Butter Bean was around to laugh at, or puke over.
Valuev hasn’t been seen on TV this side of the Atlantic since.
I was forced to watch Valuev’s last defense vs. a 99-year old version of Evander Holyfield via computer; a fight where Holyfield showed what a little lateral movement can do to mix up the completely ordinary and basic champion. Oh, by the by, when the scores were read in Valuev’s favor, I did puke.
Chagaev is so utterly invisible to the average American boxing fan, he may as well not exist, but he does. And Ruslan has never had any plans to leave his galaxy to fight ANYONE of real worth! Just check his resume of victims. Does defeating Vladimir Virches, John Ruiz and Valuev justify Ruslan’s #3 ranking in the world? Since when is being 3rd “good enough” in boxing? How in the heck are we supposed to measure this guy’s chances vs. the division’s true elite? Keen imagination?
While IBF, IBO, WBO champion Wlad Klitschko is heading into a mega-fight with former undisputed cruiserweight champ David Haye, and with big brother, WBC champ Vitali’s recent “audience stealing” success, the planet of the Russian apes orbiting around Donny King and Willi Saureland battle on virtually unnoticed. Is there any hope of ever having a unified heavyweight champion, or is the concept gone?
It seems like 20 years ago that King promoted, unwatchable former WBA champ John Ruiz ventured deep into space and lost the title to Valuev on Saureland’s planet. Enter the invasion of D. King. He’s no dummy when it comes to contractual options or sniffing out which economic territory is strongest. Joining forces with Saureland was a natural. To have his hand in promoting the 7’0” freak show Valuev, a title holder in the heavyweight sweepstakes, is right up King’s, “Only in Germany or Russia” alley. Not to mention, it’s easy to scream, “Nicolay is the BEST heavyweight in the world!” when you’re on a different planet, in a different galaxy. But here on Earth, it doesn’t make a difference.
In taking an in-depth look at the most recent WBA heavy ratings, I almost fell out of my chair, stunned, amazed, and gasping for air. Not only are Valuev and Chagaev dual champions, it looks like either guy, who ever wins the useless belt, is damn near guaranteed to stay there.
I know alphabet organization’s ratings can be way off the mark, but give me a f#!cking break! How in the name of Boris Karloff do you rate an older warhorse like Kali Meehan as the #1 contender for ANY belt, let alone the freaking WBA? I’m completely for bringing in the new blood of the division, but what has raw Taras Bidenko done to earn the #2 spot? John Ruiz is STILL hanging in there at #3, which could be understandable, but who really cares? Alexander Dimitrenko at #4 seems reasonable, but on this list, it seems equivalent to rating Larry Donald over Larry Holmes on a list of all-time greats. Feather-fisted, Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson at #5? Dennis Boystov #6? In the world? No chance.
Only on this distant planet/island/confine are these men worthy enough challengers for such a title. The names Alexander Povetkin and Eddie Chambers do not appear in the WBA top 15 and I’ll bet there’s 15 reasons why they’re not. Wladimir Klitschko victims, Ray Austin, DaVarryll Williamson and Lamon Brewster litter the lower half of the WBA top 10! To cut to the chase, if things don’t change within the politically tampered-with recycling machine grinding behind the WBA heavyweight picture, the over 200lb version of the title itself could become obsolete!
Right now, we’d better root for Valuev to beat Chagaev, and if he wins, that Nicolay keeps his word and challenges either Klitschko brother shortly thereafter. But would Donny K. dare to make that fight? Hey, if the Euros add up, DK wouldn’t flinch, but would the tough negotiating Klitschko manager Bernie Boente be able to come to favorable terms with a megalomaniac like Donald K? Ah politics, politics, politics… or politricks?
If Chagaev wins, forget it. That’s when the WBA heavyweight title drifts even deeper into the cosmos. His title reign has basically been carefully laid out for him already—between mandatory defenses, against the likes of Meehan, and voluntary defenses against, let’s say, #13 rated Dennis Bakhtov, people who suffer from insomnia could tune in via computer-land, and be treated to Chagaev-Valuev III. And then, maybe Chagaev-Ruiz II. Or perhaps Valuev-Ruiz III? To get even more absurd, if both Valuev and Chagaev retired tomorrow, who would fight for the vacant belt? Meehan and Bidenko? What the hell do any of these scenarios have to do with the REAL heavyweight championship?
Nothing at all.
It’s confusing enough for boxing fans that the Klitschko brothers, who are absolutely the best in the division, hold world laurels simultaneously, thus negating a single champion. They’ll never fight each other; we know that. Realistically, how many fights does a slower, 38-year old Vitali have left in him? Father time isn’t exactly on Wlad’s better side either; he’s in his prime right now. If Vitali retired two years from now, would a 35-year old Wladimir still have what it takes to fulfill his dream of being crowned the unified, world heavyweight champ? It’s probable. Or would politics, once again prevent it from happening? OR—will David Haye throw a wrench into the whole fray? The entire mess is frustrating, but at least it’s interesting, and prevalent to what’s happening on this planet.
The WBA heavyweight Monotheism is inexcusable. In wielding their nonsensical, intergalactic power over their “soft touch” ratings system committee of puppets, it’s apparent that the evaporating title is privy to only two men. What a disgusting, shameful, unjust way to treat a title that predates every other existing alphabet organization. And I’m not directly blaming DK. Like I said, it’s only understandable for the old dog to keep on doing the same tricks. When his stable of “Only (in) American” heavyweight titlists and contenders fell one by one, the old saying “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” fit King’s nature perfectly.
Considering that there’s no REAL probability of either Klitschko brother facing either Valuev or Chagaev in the near future, let’s not fret. It’s not like there’s very much anticipation for such bouts anyway, and it’s not as if the public were being jipped, as was the case when Riddick Bowe avoided Lennox Lewis his entire pro career. Either Klitschko brother would be tremendous favorites over Chagaev or Valuev. And that’s the problem; Valuev’s promoter Saureland knows it, and Chagaev has no plans to put himself in position to lose period, promoters aside.
A word of advice to all Earth lings: if you want to attempt to stay in the heavyweight loop during these discombobulating times, don’t stare at anyone’s top 10 list. Just know that any real “title fight” of consequence, must have the name Klitschko attached to it to be legit.
As of this moment, the WBA heavyweight championship means about as much as the UBO heavyweight championship (you figure it out), and should therefore be considered exempt in the eyes of those of us sick of every tangible and intangible thing they stand for.