Archives for posts with tag: Wladimir 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?

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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.

Wladimir Klitschko (l) taunted Dereck Chisora with his belt collection

By Johnny Walker

Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora of the United Kingdom raised the trash-talking stakes today when he called the trainer of IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine an “Uncle Tom” during a pre-fight press conference for their upcoming title tilt this Saturday in Mannheim, Germany.

The final presser for the fight was very contentious, with Chisora exhibiting a near-total lack of respect for the champion and his legendary trainer Emanuel Steward.

Klitschko taunted Chisora with the belts at one point: “It’s a nice belt, huh?” he said as he waved a championship strap in Chisora’s face.  “You’ve been dreaming about it, huh?  You can take and play with [the belts], I don’t care about it,” Klitschko continued dismissively.

Chisora responded with a blistering verbal attack on the imposing champ.

“You want to be like Muhammad Ali and all the rest, but you will never buy greatness, because you are not that great.  That’s why you’re stuck in Germany, that’s why the other countries don’t want to watch you.  You can’t get a fight in Vegas, no one will pay to watch you in Vegas, because you stink up the joint,” claimed Chisora during his vicious verbal tirade.

“I guess your [ideal] opponent is your ex-girlfriend, who can’t punch back,” a steaming but calm Klitschko countered. 

Chisora was given a suspended sentence in November for an assault on his ex-girlfriend.

Things deteriorated as Chisora tried to argue that his ex-girlfriend is better looking than the champion’s current one (actress Hayden Panettierre), who Chisora described as being “three feet tall.”

Chisora also made the aforementioned racial slur toward Manny Steward, implying with the “Uncle Tom” label that the trainer is a race traitor, working to help a white European fighter defeat black opponents.

Steward was understandably furious. 

“Chisora is a horrible person . . . [but] I don’t have to motivate Wladimir. Chisora already made him mad and showed no respect towards him,” said the Kronk boxing legend. 

Klitschko ended by offering a few choice words in German, drawing a hearty laugh from the reporters present while Chisora frowned. 

Klitschko then turned toward Chisora with his final comment on the proceedings:

“Learn the languages, buddy!”

Jean Marc Mormeck narrowly defeated Timur Ibragimov of Uzbekistan by split decision in a back-and-forth WBA heavyweight boxing encounter tonight at the Halle Carpentier in Paris.

While not unwatchable, the fight was marred at times by too much holding, as both fighters tired going in to the later rounds.  Suffice it to say that neither of the recognized heavyweight champs Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko will be shaking in his boots after viewing this bout; nor will WBA paper champ David Haye.

Ibragimov, 35, the WBA’s #7 ranked challenger for Haye’s belt, started off well, however, using his size advantage (being 6’3″ tall compared to Mormeck’s 5’11”) to bully the smaller fighter and lean on him whenever the opportunity presented itself, and also fighting nicely behind the left jab, his overall style reminiscent of Wladimir Klitschko‘s usual modus operandi. 

The 38-year-old Mormeck, ranked #12 by the WBA, came out aggressive, bobbing and weaving in Joe Frazier-like fashion, but in rounds one and two Ibragimov kept him at bay with a snappy left jab and some nice combinations to the body.

The third round saw both men warming to the task, with Ibragimov landing a hard right cross to Mormeck’s head, and Mormeck, still moving well, finally getting inside the jab to land a hard left hook of his own.  This seemed to inspire Ibragimov, who answered with an aggressive round four, bulling Mormeck into the corners and landing some crisp combinations to the body.  Mormeck did connect with a hard overhand right near the end of the round, too infrequent an occurrence for him thus far.

Rounds five through seven saw Mormeck change the momentum of the fight.   The shorter man began landing solid left and right uppercuts to Ibragimov’s chin with regularity, as the Uzbek retreated to ropes.  Although Ibragimov had not been seriously hurt, the cumulative effect of the French fighter’s blows had him in disarray, and it seemed a stoppage win for Mormeck might be in sight.

The tide turned yet again in round eight, however.  With the Parisian crowd sensing that a stoppage was close, they began chanting “MOR-MECK, MOR-MECK,” and their fighter tried to respond.  Ibragimov, however, had other ideas, opening with a solid combination to the head and body and leaning heavily on the now tiring Frenchman.  Ibragimov’s strategy of working over Mormeck’s body finally began to pay off, with the latter man visibly wilting by the end of the round. 

The ninth was Mormeck’s last effective round.  Still looking gassed, he nevertheless rallied, with some Tyson-esque determination enabling him to again slip inside and stun Ibragimov with an uppercut.  

The pendulum swung back yet again to the Uzbek in the tenth: a hard right to Mormeck’s ribs saw the Frenchman visibly sag, and a hard right cross to his jaw had him reeling. 

With Ibragimov now coming on strong, French referee Jean-Louis Legland interestingly picked this time to stop the fight and deduct a point from him for hitting behind the head.  Undaunted, Ibragimov continued to press, ending the round with a hard right to Mormeck’s by-now bruised torso.

The last two rounds saw both fighters tiring, with Mormeck definitely showing his age as he appeared utterly exhausted in his corner before heading out for round twelve.  Amidst a lot of holding mostly initiated by Mormeck, Ibragimov continued his focused assault to the Frenchman’s body, finally moving upstairs to land a combo to the head as Mormeck waited for the final bell to sound.

This writer had it 115-113 Ibragimov, reduced to 114-113 with the point deduction.  Judge Juan Manuel Garcia Reyes saw it much the same way (113-115 ), but Erkki Meronen (116-112) and Steve Weisfeld (116-111) disagreed, giving Mormeck the split decision win as the crowd went wild and Ibragimov pondered his first loss in ten fights.

Mormeck wins the previously vacant WBA International Heavyweight title with this victory — but of course, that is not the title coveted by heavyweights with any degree of ambition.

Mormeck’s name has been tossed around as the next opponent for heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko after his upcoming bout with England’s Dereck Chisora, but based on this performance, one where he was often either eating the larger man’s left jab or getting pushed around by him, the 215-pound former cruiserweight champion would be in very tough against the Ukrainian star.   

Ibragimov, because of his larger frame and more defensive style, might actually fare a little better than Mormeck against Wladimir, but with this loss, that matchup now appears highly unlikely. 

Fans of the heavyweight division, then, can only hope this Saturday’s Alexander Dimitrenko – Albert Sosnowski matchup provides a bit more clarity as to who might ultimately provide a real challenge to the Klitschko brothers, as Mormeck – Ibragimov ultimately left things as muddled as ever.

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)

Wladimir Klitschko (l), and Dereck Chisora

By Johnny Walker

According to the UKPA, British heavyweight contender Dereck ‘Del Boy’ Chisora has avoided a jail sentence for an assault on his ex-girlfriend. 

Chisora was given a suspended sentence for the assault, and was given a lecture by District Judge Quentin Purdy: “Your behaviour on May 28 was disgraceful and downright humiliating. You used violence on this young lady and then to heap ignominy on her you turned her over and slapped her on the bottom repeatedly,” said the judge.  “You clearly have a problem with violence and that has got to stop or your career will be over.” 

That last bit of advice is a bit ironic, considering how Chisora makes his living: perhaps the judge should have said, “Limit your violence to the ring against people your own size, like Wladimir Klitschko.”

Heavyweight champ Klitschko will be relieved to hear of Chisora’s verdict, as their fight on December 11 had been in jeopardy pending the court’s decision.  Chisora, however, may be longing for a nice, safe jail cell in London when Klitschko starts dishing out those left jabs and right crosses on December 11.