By Johnny Walker
The state of heavyweight contender Denis Boytsov’s career was probably summed up at the end of his most recent victory, a fourth round KO stoppage over Darnell “Ding-A-Ling-Man” Wilson in Hamburg, Germany last Saturday evening.
For the first three rounds, Boytsov had been puttering along, under virtually no threat from Wilson, tagging the oddly nicknamed fighter with the odd hard shot, but putting nothing together in the way of combinations. This hardly seemed like the aggressive Boytsov of a couple years’ back, before he incurred a spate of hand injuries. Maybe Denis was just trying to get some rounds in–or perhaps he has now become a more timid, cautious fighter.
The fourth round was much the same as the others, until the 2:32 mark, when Boytsov landed a single hard right hand to Wilson’s head. Wilson slowly went down to a sitting position, and decided to stay there as the referee counted him out. Just like that, the fight was over. Ding-A-Ling seemingly felt that he had done enough work on this night for his paycheck, and Boytsov was left to parade around the ring with his hands raised in a victory that had once again proven – well, very little.
Denis Boytsov (30-0-0, 25 KOs) will be 26 years of age on Valentine’s Day. Sadly, the buzz that had surrounded his career before his hand injuries has mostly dissipated, due to the combination of said injuries and the reluctance of his promoters, Universum boxing, to match him with anyone who might provide a challenge. Boytsov’s previous opponent, Matt Greer, looked as if he had ambled out of the corner pub, took a wrong turn, and found himself in the ring. Wilson was supposed to be a step up, but he had lost badly last time out to one Ondrej Pala, a previous Boytsov victim, so the risk was minimal.
Granted, in a context where the toughest heavyweight on the planet is 40 years old, 26 still seems quite young. And nobody sane expects Boytsov to defeat a Klitschko brother anytime soon. But it’s time Boytsov faced some tougher challenges in the ring for his own good, as he seems to be stagnating, and even regressing, due to lack of competition. Empty wins over the Greers and Wilsons of the world do nothing for either boxing fans or for Denis Boytsov’s skill set.
Boytsov, with his bodybuilder’s physique and rugged good looks, could be a fighter whose popularity transcends the usual hard-core group of boxing fans. But that will only happen if he combines his personal charisma with some impressive results in the ring.
Rumor has it that Boytsov might face undefeated bad boy Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev next, if a fight between the latter and Alexander Dimitrenko falls through.
Let’s hope for both Boytsov’s and heavyweight boxing’s sake that this fight is made.