Archives for posts with tag: Vitali Klitschko

By Johnny Walker

In the “say it ain’t so” boxing sweepstakes, Adam Booth, the manager/trainer of WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, is publicly musing about a rematch between his charge and former cruiserweight champ turned heavyweight contender Jean-Marc Mormeck.

In an interview with ffboxe.com, Booth seems surprised at the discovery of something that most fans of heavyweight boxing have known for some time: that Haye’s mandatory challenger for the WBA crown, Ruslan Chagaev, is infected with the hepatitis B antigen (he is not ill, but is a carrier of the virus).

“Logically, David would have faced [Ruslan] Chagaev but the news about his health is not very good,” Booth says in the interview.

“He reportedly suffers from hepatitis B, which makes their confrontation impossible. I then looked at the classification of the WBA … and I saw that Jean-Marc Mormeck is now ranked in the Top 10 at seven or eight, I think, and that makes a Mormeck-Haye fight possible,” Booth explains.

There are so many things wrong with this idea (as there was with the choice of Haye’s previous opponent, Audley Harrison), that to enumerate them all here would take up too much space. 

But let’s hit the most obvious problems:

First, Haye has already defeated Mormeck when they fought for the WBC cruiserweight title in 2007.  Mormeck did knock Haye down in round four, but is that knockdown really enough to warrant a rematch at heavyweight?

Second, Haye insists he is retiring in October of this year.  That leaves him with probably enough time for two fights, maximum.  Beating a man he’s already defeated at at lighter weight is surely going to do nothing for his legacy at heavyweight. 

But it appears that the question of legacy is no longer a concern for Haye and Booth, if indeed it ever was.

Most of us know by now the sad inability of Booth and Haye to negotiate a deal with either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, who currently hold all of the major belts aside from Haye’s WBA title.

But there are alternatives.  If not Chagaev (and it should be noted that Wladimir Klitschko fought Chagaev in 2009 without complaint, merely taking a vaccination before the fight as protection), how about Denis Boytsov, Alexander Povetkin, Samuel Peter, Robert Helenius, Cris Arreola, Tomasz Adamek: these are some fighters who could give Haye a decent (and hopefully entertaining) fight.

And all of them are better than Mormeck, who this writer had losing his last fight to Timur Ibragimov in Paris, only to be saved by a hometown decision.

Booth, however, not only dismisses the notion of a fight with Wladimir, but also with Vitali (too old and likely to lose to Odlanier Solis, according to Booth — a notion shared by almost no one outside of Solis’s inner circle), and also implies that there is public demand for a Haye-Mormeck rematch.

“In England there is no problem,” Booth says. “We’ve sold 20,000 tickets in two to three weeks for each bout of David’s bouts. Haye-Mormeck in England is possible.” 

“But if France wants to see this fight in Paris, David is quite ready to return. It will demonstrate that his first success against Jean-Marc is not a coincidence….”

But who was really insisting it was a coincidence in the first place, Adam?

Tomasz Adamek makes hay(e) while the sun shines

By Johnny Walker

It is being widely reported that top heavyweight challenger Tomasz Adamek of Poland has signed to face either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko this September in Poland.

“I signed for the most important fight of my life and one of the most important in the history of Polish boxing,” Adamek told ringpolska.pl.

In contrast to the on-again, off-again negotiations between the champion Klitschkos and the UK’s David Haye over the past couple of years, this deal came together quickly.

“It took us less than three weeks to get this done,” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who represents Adamek, told ESPN.com.

“Everybody had the same objective — to make the biggest, best event we can and everybody make the most money we can. We’re very excited,” said Duva.

As for the supposed difficulty of negotiating with the Klitschkos’ promotional arm, K2, Duva said, in what seems a thinly-veiled reference to Adam Booth and David Haye, “I didn’t have any of the problems other people talk about … I didn’t have any problem with them at all. And I had a fighter who said, ‘This is what I want, please go out and get it.'”

Which Klitschko brother Adamek fights will depend on the results of their upcoming matches with Dereck Chisora (Wlad) and Odlanier Solis (Vitali).

If both brothers are victorious, K2 will decide who faces Adamek.  In the unlikely event that both lose, the Adamek fight would be off.

Adamek will take an interim April fight in Katowice, Poland as planned, but it won’t be against the still dangerous Samuel Peter, who had been in the running but who is no-one’s idea of a “tune-up” type opponent. 

As for US television coverage of Adamek-Klitschko, K2 rep Bernd Boente told ESPN.com that he prefers the bout to be on Showtime, due to the rocky relationship between the Klitschkos and HBO over the past couple of years.

Baysangurov poses for a picture with Klitschko and Kadyrov after his victory over Gutierrez in their junior middleweight fight in Brovary

l-r: Kadyrov, Baysangurov, and Vitali Klitschko

 

By Johnny Walker

A recent article in Spiegel Online seeks to use the “guilt by association” line of thinking to discredit Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko for their associations with controversial Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov.

The article, written by Stefan Berg, damns the Klitschkos with faint praise for their charitable efforts and promotion of democracy in Ukraine and beyond, setting them up as false saviors whose democratic ideals are a mere facade for a much darker strain of political thinking.

There is little doubt that Kadyrov himself is bad news. 

This is a man who initally fought for Chechen independence, and who later switched sides to fight for Mother Russia against his former comrades. 

Kadryov is what some might call “colorful”: he brandishes a gold-plated pistol and fancies himself an amateur boxer, having associated with not only the Klitschko Brothers but also with Mike Tyson in the past.

The brutish Chechen strongman, a Muslim who was appointed to his post by none other than Russian leader Vladimir Putin, also has some interesting views when it comes to marital infidelity:

“If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of them are killed,” he has said

“Women’s liberation” for Kadyrov means liberating women from their very lives: he is an enthusiastic supporter of so-called “honor killings.”

He is also suspected in a host of other nefarious activities too lengthy to list here, including political assassinations and torture.

The Klitschkos’ involvement with Kadyrov seems to revolve around their promotional company K-2’s signing of a Chechen fighter, light middleweight Zaurbek Baysangurov.

On Dec. 4, 2010, Baysangurov won by TKO over Richard Gutierrez on a card in Brovary, Ukraine, in which Vitali Klitschko and Kadyrov not only sat at ringside, but also posed with the Chechen fighter for photographers after his victory.

Wladimir Klitschko is also purported to have met with Kadryov in 2009 at a boxing event in Grozny, the Chechen capital, and supposedly promised more such boxing cards for Chechens in the future.

So what does all of this mean?  Does it mean, as Berg tries very hard to suggest, that the Klitschko brothers, whose world-wide image is that of squeaky-clean promoters of democracy and freedom, really harbor secret dark ambitions that run totally counter to their public image?

K-2 spokesman Bernd Böente insists that the relations between the brothers and Kadryov are unavoidable given their promotion of Baysangurov.  Boente told Spiegel Online that the Klitschkos have “no official position” on Kadyrov.

To this writer, it seems that at worst, the Klitschkos may be guilty of a lack of judgment here.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that business interests got someone into hot water, and collided with his professed values.

But certainly one thing that can’t be doubted or discounted is the commitment to helping the less fortunate on this planet that both Klitschko brothers have consistently shown. 

On December 8, in an article entitled “Wladimir Klitschko Does Good While Doing Well,” trainer Emanuel Steward says:

Of all of the fighters I have known, I have never known anyone other than [Wladimir] and his brother where their mission seems to be helping less fortunate people.  Wladimir never brags about it. He’s really serious about it. He and his brother have fully educated people from Kenya. I have seen checks he’s written. He’s done it in Brazil. He seems to feel like that is his calling on this planet — to help the less fortunate. That’s where a lot of his money goes.”

When measured against a couple of appearances with a questionable political type like Ramzan Kadyrov, it seems that the scales are still tilted heavily in favor of the Klitschkos.

However, in this world where appearances are so important, we might expect that the heavyweight champions have a little more to say about Kadyrov other than a vague and noncommittal comment issued through an advisor.

Wladimir and Vitali, we’re waiting.

 By Johnny Walker

It seems that 2010 is ending much like 2009 did as far as boxing’s heavyweight division is concerned: with escalating trash talk between the respective camps of the Klitschko Brothers and David Haye.

Haye versus Klitschko: Just a fantasy?

 After doing everything he could to avoid getting in the ring with one of the Ukrainian brothers for the last two years—this after demanding a showdown with Wladimir when he made the jump up from cruiserweight—WBA paper champion Haye is now doing his best to convince the world (with the help of his UK press cheerleaders like The Guardian’s obsequious Kevin Mitchell) that he is doing the The Ring magazine heavyweight champ a favor by accepting his 50-50 contract offer for a heavyweight showdown.

“Despite the fact we know we bring more UK television money to the table, David and I are happy to split the entire pot 50-50 and grant Wladimir the deal he has wanted since day one,” says Haye mouthpiece and trainer Adam Booth. “We have offered them 50-50 on everything and now see no reason why this tremendous fight can’t happen. The path is clear.”

So now we are to believe it is Haye, who holds one belt (the legitimacy of which is questionable) who is lowering his standards to offer Wladimir Klitschko—who holds the IBF, IBO and WBO belts as well as the The Ring magazine honor—the same 50-50 contract that Klitschko had already offered the Brit.

Sure, boys.

Haye, being his usual eloquent self, put it this way: “We agreed to 50-50 on everything, which they requested. We took away every possible excuse. There is no reason for this fight not to happen. I want to fight that big Russian prick next.”

Let’s hope a few months from now, Haye doesn’t tell us he was really talking about a rematch with Nicolay Valuev, who is very big—and actually Russian.

For their part, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko recently issued a statement in the German newspaper Bild that promised a showdown with Haye in 2011.   

“We want this fight at all costs,” the statement read.  “[Haye] may choose which of us he wants to step into the ring to lose his world title.”

Now, Wladimir has gone further, claiming that a fight pitting either Klitschko brother against Haye is “an easy payday.”

“It doesn’t matter which one it is, both of us are far too big and strong for David Haye, who … is rated only in his own head – outside that nobody rates him,” said Wladimir.  “He will be nothing for us to beat. He will leave the arena embarrassed if he ever sets foot in the ring with us.”

“If” indeed.

Before anyone gets too excited, it should be remembered that we’ve heard all of this before. Haye has gone so far as to sign to fight Wladimir, only to pull out at the last moment with an “injury” that was never substantiated by any doctor’s report. 

And Haye has reiterated a number of times lately that he intends to retire next year before his 31st birthday whether he has fought a Klitschko or not.

So despite all of the talk and the promises, we are in reality no closer to the second biggest fight that can be made in boxing actually taking place. 

Talk, as they say, is cheap.

See you in 2011.

An obese Solis (above) gassed early against a rubbery Ray Austin

By Johnny Walker

In a farcical WBC heavyweight eliminator Friday night, a tubby Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis prevailed in a surreal bout against an over-the-hill Ray “Rainman” Austin. 

Solis, 30, showed up for the bout in front of his Cuban fan base at Miami’s American Airlines Arena in woeful condition, weighing in at an obese 260 pounds on a 6’1″ frame.  Austin, 40, looked to be in better shape, being five inches taller and weighing 20 pounds less than his opponent, but it soon became clear that looks are often deceiving.

Incredibly, Austin looked to be on rubbery legs when the bell sounded for round one.  Nevertheless, as Solis waddled his ample girth around the ring, Austin was able to land enough pawing  jabs with the occasional straight right mixed in to take the round.

After the same pattern repeated itself in round two, Solis began to come alive in round three, landing some good left hooks to Austin’s face.  The Cuban gained momentum in round four, and by round five he had Austin in trouble.

After a series of hard shots from Solis in round five, the now Gumby-like Austin was sent tumbling to the canvas with a relatively mild left jab.  But Solis, in very poor condition, had shot his bolt for the evening, and was unable to close the show.

Austin remained rubbery-legged, but composed himself to win round six against the punched-out Solis.  The fight now resembled a couple of drunks fighting in an alley after closing time, as both men could barely stand up and were reduced to winging wild shots in the hope of quickly ending this heavyweight farce.

Ironically, as the announcers of this Don King-produced event took gratuitous and cheap shots at the Klitschko brothers, Austin and Solis were busy proving why, without a doubt, the Ukrainian siblings are heads and tails above the rest of the heavyweight division. 

One can imagine current WBC champ Vitali Klitschko laughing as he watched these two contenders for his crown lurching around the ring in exhaustion in rounds seven through nine.

The fight was closer than it should have been (this writer had it tied) going into round 10, when Solis managed to put a few punches together.  Austin was ready to go (he had been since the opening bell), but again Solis gassed, and the fighters staggered into the ropes in a punch-drunk embrace. 

Both men looked ready to fall over the ropes and out of the ring from sheer fatigue.  As they slowly recovered their balance (with help from referee Tommy Kimmons), the bell sounded to end the round, but Austin, apparently not knowing what was happening, turned and punched Solis in the face. 

This was deemed too much by Kimmons, who immediately disqualified Austin at 2:59 of round 10, handing the victory to Solis.

Solis, however, shouldn’t wolf down too many cheeseburgers in celebration of this Pyrrhic victory.  For a man 10 years younger than his opponent and heavily favored to win the fight, Solis now found that the three judges’ scores had the contest a stalemate at the time of the disqualification: 85-85, 88-82 for Solis and 86-84 for Austin.

It should never have been that close.

This was Solis’s night to shine, the biggest fight of his career, yet the Olympic gold medal winner chose to show up in pitiful condition, causing even his Cuban fans to start booing in round eight, as their lethargic fighter struggled to muster enough energy to throw a punch. 

In the build-up to this fight, Solis made much of the fact that he doesn’t care for boxing, that he isn’t even a fan of the sport.

Well, Odlanier, it showed. 

Boy, did it show.

Vitali Klitschko will sleep very soundly tonight.

Sascha Dimitrenko collapsed to the floor of his dressing room

By Johnny Walker

The scheduled fight for the European heavyweight title between defending champion Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko and challenger Albert Sosnowski at the Sport and Congress Center in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, was cancelled tonight when Dimitrenko collapsed to the floor in the dressing room right before the bout.

Germany’s Sport 1 television network showed Dimitrenko sprawled on the floor in front of his chair, with his legs jammed under a nearby couch.  There was general confusion as to what had taken place, as other fighters on the card entered the area to rubberneck and then were ushered out by security.

Sosnowski, the Polish-born challenger now based in the UK, had lost last time out in a game effort against WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko.  He was interviewed by Sport 1 after the cancellation, and was clearly chagrined at the unfortunate turn of events. 

“I’m disappointed … it was two months of training,” said Sosnowski. 

Sosnowski, who expressed concern for Dimitrenko’s health, went on to say that, according to his information, the Germany-based Ukrainian champ had become “nervous” as the fight neared and had experienced some kind of attack. 

Sport 1 cameras showed Dimitrenko being wheeled out of the Center on a stretcher and into an awaiting ambulance.

According to Sosnowski, it is not yet known if the bout will be rescheduled or cancelled altogether.

Ruslan Chagaev (l), had all he could handle from Travis Walker

By Johnny Walker

Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan, the mandatory contender for David Haye’s WBA heavyweight title, barely got by tough American journeyman Travis Walker Friday night in a fan-friendly, eight-round “tune-up” scrap in Hamburg, Germany.

Those who like to loudly bemoan the lack of back and forth action in today’s heavyweight division surely would have been silenced by the aggressive tactics of both Chagaev and Walker.  Chagaev, who has been talking up an upcoming 2011 contest with Britain’s controversial “Hayemaker,” had the most to lose coming in to this bout, and Walker did his best to take advantage of that.

Chagaev started well in rounds one and two, showing why he formerly held the belt that now resides around David Haye’s waist.  Showing fast hands and moving well, the southpaw Chagaev established a pattern of landing flush lead lefts to Walker’s face, and also backed up the American with some lightning fast combos.

Walker, as round two progressed, eventually started to get some rhythm going, and thudded a cracking uppercut into Chagaev’s sturdy chin in what would become a pattern of his own.

With Walker’s excitable and vociferous corner yelling for “right hands!” to the point of distraction in round three, it was Chagaev who landed a nifty uppercut of his own, followed by a flurry of lefts and rights.  Round four saw both fighters winging hard shots, most of which were blocked by gloves, with Chagaev again landing a thudding lead left near the end of the round.

The fifth round was one of the best in the fight: Walker came out aggressive, landing those “right hands” his corner had been begging for.  In what could be seen as an ominous sign for a future matchup with Haye, Chagaev proved vulnerable to repeated uppercuts, as Walker bullied the smaller man around the ring.  Yet another hard lead left from Chagaev only momentarily halted Walker’s progress, and both men flurried to end the round.

Rounds six and seven saw Chagaev, who looked a bit soft at 232, rapidly tiring from the fight’s hectic pace, while Walker got a second wind.  The superior upper body movement Chagaev displayed when handing giant Russian Nicolay Valuev his first loss (lifting the WBA title from him to boot) was now nowhere to be seen, and Walker took full advantage, muscling Chagaev into the corners and teeing off on him with hard shots.

The fight was very close (I had it dead even) heading into the last round, and Walker tried to keep up the pressure.  Chagaev, sensing that his title shot against Haye could be in jeopardy, started winging wild punches in the hope of taking Walker out.  Finally, both men were exhausted, having given the heavyweight division the kind of competitive fight it could use more of.

Chagaev, as the “hometown” favorite (he fights out of Germany), got the benefit of the doubt from the judges, who saw it 78-75, 77-75 and 77-76 in his favor (I scored it a draw).  Walker, however, gave a very good account of himself on this night.

The result now sets Chagaev up for a showdown with Haye . . . or does it? 

According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, “I don’t see Haye going to Germany for that fight. He has the title and is much bigger in the UK than Chagaev is in Germany.”

“However,” Rafael continued, “I would be surprised if Chagaev is licensed in the UK because of his positive hepatitis tests. The medicals are tougher in the UK than Germany. That would make this a big mess.  It may have to go to a purse bid and if Chagaev’s side wins, it would probably be put in Germany, but I’d be surprised if Chagaev’s side won a purse bid if there was one.  Haye can bid much more because of the greater revenue he supplies from UK television.”

Stay tuned.

(www.streetbeatboxing.com)

“Just you and me pal!” 

By Johnny Walker

WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has once again thrown down the gauntlet to his trash talking nemesis, WBA heavyweight king David Haye.

As controversy continues to swirl around the Hayemaker in the aftermath of last Saturday’s farcical title fight between Haye and the hapless Audley “A-Force” Harrison, Klitschko has offered to fight Haye next spring in a 50-50 deal, anywhere in the world where the fight makes the most financial sense.

“I hear about the great venue of Madison Square Garden for this fight,” Klitschko offered. “But I’m ready to fight in Germany, the United States or Great Britain.” 

“Wherever the most money is on the table,” he continued, “let’s fight in this place.”

Conventional wisdom as to which Klitschko brother would be the best bet for David Haye in terms of winning the fight has changed in the last few years.  Initially, it was thought Wladimir, because of his supposedly soft chin, would be more vulnerable than his iron-chinned older brother.

Then, after Vitali looked a bit jaded in fights with Kevin Johnson and Albert Sosnowski (even though he barely dropped a round in either bout), the thinking was that maybe he was finally slowing down, while Wlad, after annihilating top American contender Eddie Chambers, and then doing the same to ex-champion Samuel Peter, was firmly in his prime.

That was before Vitali hospitalized ex-champion Shannon Briggs, again giving boxing’s big thinkers pause—maybe the elder Klitschko brother is not quite over the hill after all?

At any rate, Klitschko manager Bernd Boente today made it clear that while either Klitschko brother is willing to consider fighting Haye in England, they are not about to let the WBA champion call all the shots.

“If England is where we can make the most money, then we’ll go there”, Boente told BoxingScene.com.  “But the fight will happen where we can make the most money. If Haye is going to tell us that it can only happen in England, then we will never agree to start negotiations. A negotiation is where everyone comes to the table with open minds and together they make a deal. But if he is going to start telling us what to do, the fight won’t happen.”

The Klitschkos are indeed champs—and it seems that they are not about to be treated as chumps.