These days it's all the rage to gnash one's teeth and complain about the sorry state of the heavyweight division. Usually, smack dab in the middle of the whining is Wladimir Klitschko, the WBA/WBO/IBF world champ and consensus best heavyweight in the world.
KLitschko has been the dominant force in the division for the last six years and has not even come close to losing since he took the IBF title from Chris Byrd in 2006. More frustrating to some is the fact that the only heavyweight who can be mentioned in the same category is Klitschko's older brother and WBC titlist, Vitali. Sure, it can be argued that a portion of Wladimir's dominance has to do with a less-than-stellar crop of big men, but that doesn't take away from the fact that, year after year and fight after fight, he's getting the job done.
Now, at 36 years of age and with sixteen straight wins since his last loss, Klitschko could be set to face the strongest series of challengers in his career.
Poland's Mariusz Wach is next in line for a shot at Wlad's titles and, while the name may not ring a bell with most fans, there are several knowledgeable boxing people who insist that the 6 ft. 7 challenger will not be a pushover. Wach is big, strong, surprisingly agile for a big man. At the end of the day, he may not have what it takes to win, but he could very well offer up more of a challenge than many would expect.
Wlad's next opponent could be Alexander Povetkin, Russia's former Olympic gold medalist and current WBA "regular" heavyweight champ. Povetkin has received his share of the blame for a recent disgusting mismatch against a badly-faded Hasim Rahman, but that disgrace notwithstanding, Povetkin can fight at a world class level.
Following Wach and Povetkin, Wlad would likely find himself facing the hard-punching 6 ft. 6 "Nordic Nightmare," Robert Helenius or the underrated Bulgarian, Kubrat Pulev. Both European heavyweights are quality fighters and have proven themselves to be legitimate main stage talent.
Even after running this gauntlet, Wladimir could still be holding on to his world titles and inspiring the critics to post all kinds of nasty things on social media sites and boxing message boards. But they won't be able to complain about his level of opposition anymore. If he gets by his upcoming challenges, there'll be no legitimate grounds for complaint.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and a close follower of the sport for more than 30 years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
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