Thursday, March 15, 2007


By Jason Abelson

After suffering through Wladimir Klitschko’s less-than-watchable 2nd round TKO over a hapless Ray Austin, fight fans seem eager for the IBF champion to try to unify the division’s four title belts.

In a poll conducted here on The Fight, fans overwhelmingly picked the other three champions to be Klitschko’s next opponent, with 30.6% of respondents wanting to see Klitschko face WBA champion Nicolai Valuev.

WBO champion Shannon Briggs was the fans’ next choice with 28.6% of the vote, while Oleg Maskaev, the WBC belt wearer, finished third with 20.4% percent.

Sam Peter, perhaps the world’s best heavyweight, fared no better than WBO mandatory challenger Sultan Ibragimov, with each registering 10.2% of the votes.

A Klitschko-Valuev fight seems to make business sense, with both fighters recently calling each other out. And with June 2nd shaping up as boxing night in Moscow - Shannon Briggs defending the WBO belt against Ibragimov on one card, and Maskaev likely to defend his WBC strap against Wladimir’s brother Vitali on another – Klitschko and Valuev would be wise to cement a deal soon, as opposed to stubbornly leaving themselves on the outside looking in.

In this writer’s eyes, Klitschko should easily dominate the sluggish Russian giant.

With Klitschko possessing far superior handspeed, power, and footwork, this could well be the most lopsided of any possible unification fight.

Valuev has shown a weak chin against a b-level heavyweight Monte Barrett, and would be soundly overwhelmed by Klitschko.

Of course Klitschko has never been confused with Rocky Marciano, and has shown a questionable heart and crystalline chin in his three career losses.

Those loses however were against fighters of a far higher quality than Valuev (yes, even Klitschko’s first conqueror, Ross Purity).

Should the fight take place, it will ultimately be a lucrative, and easy, payday for Klitschko, ending in an emphatic mid-round stoppage.

On a side note, if anybody ever doubted that it pays to be a heavyweight, WBC mandatory challenger Samuel Peter has been offered $2.75 Million to not fight, allowing Maskaev-Klitschko to take place. Peter would then get the first crack at the winner of Maskaev-Klitschko, and an estimated $5 Million chunk of the purse.

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