By Johnny Walker
You’ve heard it a million times.
The heavyweight division is boring, dying, terminal, dead.
Especially in America, the nation that used to rule boxing’s glamour division, cynical and jaded boxing writers have been pushing this clichéd storyline with mind-numbing consistency over the last decade, which just happens to coincide with the dominance of the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, from Ukraine.
Never mind that we all know, if we are to be honest, that were the Klitschkos named Wally and Victor and hailed from New York rather than Kiev, the storyline would be very different in America. The heavyweight division would be “alive and well,” and the brothers would be the media stars here that they are in Germany and other parts of Europe.
But even if you detest the classy Klitschkos (and a perusal of Internet boxing forums shows that many do), it seems that the heavyweight division is coming back to life, in spite of the insistence of American boxing media types who rather perversely seem to want it to stay “dead” and buried.
This summer has seen a renaissance of the heavyweight division, with some very good to excellent fights being made.
OK, so Wladimir Klitschko versus David Haye didn’t live up to expectations, but that’s mainly because those expectations, given Haye’s other lackluster performances at heavyweight and Wladimir’s cautious approach, were exaggerated. The fight turned out to be a highly technical affair, and for those who really appreciate that aspect of boxing, it was a good but not great fight. For those who want every heavyweight contest to be more of a barroom brawl, it was a disappointment.
But the really good thing is that Wlad vs Haye was made. The fight happened and it’s over with. Now the division can move on.
And move on it has. First, British heavyweights Tyson Fury and Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora put on a very entertaining fight in London, with Fury showing more ring savvy than cynical boxing critics gave him credit for while taking Chisora’s British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles away. A mere babe in today’s heavyweight division at only 23 years of age, Fury looks to have a bright future indeed.
Heavyweight veterans Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett and David “Tuamanator” Tua also put on an enjoyable fight this summer in New Zealand, with Barrett avenging what many considered to be an unfair decision in their first fight, a draw last year in Atlantic City. Barrett had knocked Tua down for the first time in his career in that first fight, but Tua returned the favor this time, breaking Barrett’s jaw and coming within a hair of knocking him out in the last round of the rematch.
Tua waited until too late in the fight to get in gear, and Barrett got his win this time, but the result left many calling for Tua-Barrett 3, and why not? These two veterans may not ever win a major title, but they make very exciting fights together, and a trilogy would be the perfect way to settle things once and for all.
We also had an excellent double-bill featuring some big-name heavyweights, as Robert “Nordic Nightmare” Helenius took on Sergei “White Wolf” Liakhovich and Alexander Povetkin tangled with Ruslan “White Tyson” Chagaev in Germany. The latter fight was technical but entertaining, with ex-WBA champ Chagaev inflicting more damage than his opponent but still losing a decision as Povetkin outworked him late to win the newly minted WBA “regular heavyweight championship” belt (the real WBA champ being Wladimir Klitschko).
Even better was the bloody slugfest between an inspired former WBO titleholder Liakhovich and rising star Helenius. Helenius was pressed to the limit and was seemingly losing the fight to Liakhovich (who had suffered a broken nose early in the fight) when he landed some trademark monster power shots to put the game Liakhovich away. The fight left most observers eager to see not only Helenius, but also Liakhovich, back in action again soon.
And now, bringing the summer to a close, we have WBC champion Vitali Klitschko facing off with Tomasz Adamek this Saturday in Poland. While this fight has seen far less hype than the Wlad-Haye matchup, due mostly to the stoic nature of Adamek, it promises to be the better fight of the two. Adamek has promised to be far more aggressive against Vitali than Haye was against Wlad, and fighting in front of 40,000 rabid Polish boxing fans, he is sure to live up to that vow.
For his part, Vitali looks to be in incredible condition this time out, far better than he was for the farcical title fight with Odlanier Solis earlier this year, indicating just how seriously he takes the challenge of the former cruiserweight champion. Klitschko sees this as a signature fight and has tellingly praised Adamek as being far superior to Haye. Vitali versus Adamek seems like a fitting end to a summer of regeneration for the heavyweight division.
So don’t listen to the boxing media’s nattering nabobs of negativity the next time they tell you that the heavyweight division is dead.
They obviously haven’t been paying attention.