Heavyweight Picks and Pans For 2012
by Johnny Walker
Today we wrap up our look back at the heavyweight division in 2012 by choosing some fighters who got off track, to put it mildly, in their pursuit of pugilistic glory.
HEAVYWEIGHT CLOWN OF THE YEAR: ODLANIER SOLIS
We picked Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis as our Clown of the Year last year, and he defended his title against tough competition in 2012.
OK, last year we pointed out all of Solis’s many clownish qualities: his lack of professional dedication, his silly obsession with Sponge Bob bling, sleazy strippers and so on.
Here’s a guy who in 2011 blew out a knee in his big (and undeserved) WBC title shot against Vitali Klitschko after taking a shot to the temple, probably because of the undue stress put on the aching joint by the fighter’s obese frame. Solis had also made it crystal clear before the big fight that he only was in boxing for money, and that the sport itself meant little or nothing to him.
After his embarrassment against Klitschko, Solis protested from his hospital bed that he was now a changed man, newly dedicated to his craft. So you had to figure that in his first comeback fight, he’d enter the ring in peak, if not ripped, physical condition, right?
Instead, Solis waddled into the ring to fight German Konstantin Airich last May at the third highest weight of his pro career, 267 1/2 pounds on a 6’1″ frame. The former Cuban olympic champion then sleepwalked to an umimpressive unanimous decision over Airich that even his perpetually hyperbolic manager Ahmet Oner found hard to defend.
To put things in further context, Airich was recently knocked out by another Vitali Klitschko victim, Manuel Charr, in less than one round. Yet some (though the numbers seem to be dwindling) boxing fans continue to believe that Solis, a former olympic champ who defeated David Haye as an amateur, is the next great heavyweight.
Solis was supposed to take on Tomasz Adamek following the Airich bout, but a mix-up in communications between he and Oner led that to that fight being nixed, and Solis with only one outing to show for the entire year. Wow — some comeback.
Rumors are that “La Sombra” is in the process of dumping Oner, which would be the first positive move he’s made in some time. Perhaps Solis might even give up his Clown of the Year title for 2013 — but don’t count on it!
HEAVYWEIGHT CLOWN OF THE YEAR, RUNNER-UP: DERECK CHISORA (“HE GLASSED ME!”)
Britain’s Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora began the year on a high, getting credit from most observers for besting top contender Robert Helenius at the end of 2011 even though he lost a split decision, and quickly moving on to a title shot against WBC champion Vitali Klitschko.
From there on, things got a little rocky. Chisora stupidly slapped Vitali Klitschko hard across the face at the weigh-in for no discernable reason, then spit a stream of water in Wladimir Klitschko’s face before the fight. Nice. He then gave a typically spirited effort against Klitschko in the ring, winning a few rounds (unusual against Vitali) while still being comfortably bested by the champion.
“Del Boy” then engaged in the infamous “Munich Meltdown” with his countryman David Haye in the post-fight presser, a brawl which made the phrase “he glassed me!” forever part of the boxing lexicon, and the basis of a thousand rancid Dan Rafael jokes.
Next, it was mostly downhill for our Dereck. Chisora was stripped of his boxing license in the UK. Then he agreed to fight Haye in a London grudge match licensed from outside of the country, and after again giving a good effort, he got knocked out by the Hayemaker, who thus restored his image in England following his loss to Wladimir Klitschko . . . at Dereck Chisora’s expense.
Chisora thus ended 2012 on a down note, the loser of three tough fights in a row, his clownish antics more likely to be remembered than his rugged efforts in the ring. That is a shame, and while he’s always entertaining and is one of our faves here at BI, here’s hoping that “Del Boy” can get a bit more control over himself in 2013, for his own sake if no-one else’s.
AND WHATEVER HAPPENED TO…..?
CRISTOBAL ARREOLA? After finally getting in better shape and making a strong effort at restarting his career in 2011, Arreola only fought once in 2012, and got rocked hard by Eric Molina before coming back to stop him in round one.
Since then, nada on the Arreola front, except rumors of he and long-time trainer Henry Ramirez not hitting it off and of Arreola falling off the fitness wagon. Let’s hope what looked like a strong march back toward the top in 2011 doesn’t turn out to have been a mirage come 2013.
DENIS BOYTSOV? It’s hard to remember that only a couple of years ago, this Germany-based Russian was the hottest prospect in the heavywewight division. Boytsov did fight twice in early 2012, with a stoppage of the aptly-named “Ding-A-Ling Man,” Darnell Wilson, and an utter snorefest UD win over another aptly-named heavyweight, Dominick “The Southern Disaster” Guinn.
That last win was back in April, and since then … nothing. Every time Boytsov even thinks about getting in the ring, he seems to get injured. Heavyweight fans got momentarily excited when it was announced that the brittle Boytsov was going to be taking on rising contender Tyson Fury in December, but the Russian fighter soon pulled out, and next was seen pictured laying in a hospital bed following elbow surgery (this after numerous medical work on his hands).
Maybe Denis didn’t drink enough milk when he was young?
Luckily, Boytsov is still young (26) in a division that sports a 36 and 41-year-old pair of champions. But let’s hope he starts to make moves (other than to the emergency ward) in 2013.