Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, IBF heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko will attempt to unify his portion of the crown against WBO belt holder Sultan Ibragimov. Klitschko (49-3, 44 KOs) is the recognized number one big man in the division, and if he beats Ibragimov (22-0-1, 17 KO's), he'll take a step closer to becoming the recognized champion -- a title that has remained vacant since Lennox Lewis retired in 2003.
A unified heavyweight kingpin would undoubtedly help boxing. Everyone recognizes the heavyweight champion of the world. And with an intelligent guy like Klitschko as boxing's King Kong, the sport could only prosper.
But in order for the heavyweights to truly get back on the general public's radar, more than just a unified champion is needed. After all, the sovereign of the sweet science can only fight so often. What boxing's biggest division needs are better fights, and although the talent pool at heavyweight isn't deep, there are enough capable fighters to make those entertaining scraps happen. Here are some bouts that I'd like to see:
1. Danny Williams (37-6, 30 KO's) vs. Demetrice King (14-15, 12 KO's): When in shape, Williams is one of the best offensive heavyweights in the world. Last March, Williams willed himself down to 228 pounds and thrashed undefeated prospect Scott Gammer in nine rounds. If he could get down to a similar weight to fight the athletic King, who is coming into his own after a very rocky career start, fireworks would fly. Williams' two-fisted assault would be effective against the defensively porous King, but King would land bombs of his own when Williams opened up. And although both men aren't always in the best of shape, they always come to fight.
2. Joe Mesi (36-0, 29 KO's) vs. James Toney (70-6-2, 43 KO's): Since suffering a subdural hematoma in a March 2004 bout, Mesi has run off seven straight wins. The 34 year old looked great in his 2007 bashings of George Linberger and Shannon Miller, but it's time for "Baby Joe" to take a step up in class. In Toney, he would find that challenge. Toney is currently towards the end of a year long steroid suspension, and at 39, he'll want to get right back in the mix of the title picture. He'd love to get a crack at Mesi, thinking that the latter is a slow, one-dimensional fighter. The intriguing aspect of this fight would be how Toney's slick, counterpunching style would match up against Mesi's bombing attack behind a sharp jab.
3. Andrew Golota (41-6, 33 KO's) vs. Guillermo Jones (35-3-2, 27 KO's): The 40 year old Golota, a strong, skilled big man, is coming off of a very exciting win over Mike Mollo is January. Jones, a very hard hitter at cruiserweight, has carried his power up with him to heavyweight. Needless to say, this fight would end in a knockout.
4. Tony Thompson (31-1, 19 KO's) vs. Chris Arreola (23-0, 21 KO's): Thompson is America's best heavyweight. His beatdowns of Dominick Guinn and Luan Krasniqi are the result of years of hard work. But the tall, lanky southpaw would have his hands full with Arreola, who is being touted as America's best heavyweight prospect. Thompson is a slick boxer; Arreola, a banging power puncher. These are the types of matchups that fight fans love to see.
5. Alexander Povetkin (15-0, 11 KO's) vs. Mike Mollo (19-2, 12 KO's): Povetkin has quickly risen through the ranks of the heavyweight division by besting some tough vets, but the 2004 Olympic super heavyweight champion showed flaws in his last bout against Eddie Chambers. If Povetkin, who currently sits as the number one contender for IBF champion Klitschko, is serious about giving a Klitschko a decent fight, he'll need to tune up on a few more opponents. Who better to serve that role than Mollo, who may just be the division's most exciting fighter? Although Povetkin would likely take Mollo to school, the latter wouldn't go down without a fight.
-I thought Kelly Pavlik looked great against Jermain Taylor last Saturday. Taylor put forth his best effort, and Pavlik was still able to stop him in his tracks. Kelly would be well served to take on the sport's bigger names, such as Trinidad and Roy Jones, to raise his own stock. Then he can take on the top guys at middleweight and super middleweight.
-Christian Mijares proved Saturday that he is a top ten pound for pound fighter. The super flyweight Mexican is so smooth. It was amazing how many punches he avoided against the super-active Jose Navarro.
-Russian giant Nikolay Valuev will get a chance to regain his WBA heavyweight belt against Ruslan Chagaev after shutting out Sergei Liakhovich in a title eliminator on Saturday in Germany. HBO or Showtime should pick up the fight -- I know I'd like to see it. Although ringside reports indicate that Valuev looked impressive against Liakhovich, the latter weighed in at a career high 251 pounds, indicating that he wasn't in great shape.
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