Wladimir Klitschko has decided to face Ruslan Chagaev on June 20, with his alphabet straps and the vacant Ring Magazine world heavyweight championship on the line rather than wait for the possibility of fighting David Haye on July 11, Dan Rafael reports.
HBO has passed on airing Klitschko-Chagaev, as it had been said they would. It's kind of a shame when you really think about it. I know the economy is what it is and everyone's tightening the belts, but Klitschko-Chagaev is a far more interesting and more significant fight than any of his last six fights, all of which were aired by HBO. The Ibragimov stinker of 2008 had some significance since it unified Ibragimov's WBO title with Klitschko's IBF/IBO pair, but we're crowning a real world champion now, and Chagaev is a tough proposition, a lefty with some thump who's in his prime years. If he beats Klitschko, don't be stunned. Klitschko-Chagaev isn't as intriguing a fight as Klitschko-Haye was, but it beats the crap out of the bombs that HBO has fed us from Wladimir the last few years. It's disappointing that they passed. Maybe I'm the only one that feels that way, but we all put in time watching those rotten fights, and here comes the most interesting one he's had in years and American fans will be looking to internet feeds from Germany.
For the record, the Ring Magazine championship will be joined by Klitschko's WBO, IBF and IBO titles as well as Chagaev's WBA title. All are on the line in this one.
This whole goofy heavyweight scenario of the last week is really worth a recap, just so you can wrap your brains around it: Chagaev's rematch with Nikolai Valuev is scrapped because of Chagaev having Hepatitis B, and the Finnish regulators putting the kibosh on that whole mess. Chagaev, a week later, is healthy enough to fight in Germany, replacing Haye, who pulled out because of a back injury that will be fixed with physical therapy within three weeks' time.
There's a whole lot to not like about both situations (and this one, honestly), but at the end of the day we're getting a totally legit fight for the division.
I think it's also worth saying that maybe Klitschko taking this fight and not waiting on the chance that Haye will be ready to go in a few weeks is Wladimir and his team sending a bit of an F-you to Haye, who talked and wore borderline obscene shirts and really got under Wlad's skin during their press tour, only to pull out of the fight. With Klitschko taking the Chagaev fight, it puts Haye at the end of the line. Alexander Povetkin is the next mandatory for Klitschko assuming Wladimir beats Chagaev, and then there's Chris Arreola waiting for a mandatory shot, too. Haye now has to fight someone.
On that topic, Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com is reporting that Arreola and Haye just might work out a fight. It's a very attractive TV matchup, a potential cracker of a fight, and would feel in many ways like a true eliminator. Neither guy has beaten the top competition at heavyweight and, frankly, questions surround both.
But a fight between Arreola and Haye is not even close to a done deal. If Dan Goossen and Arreola have their druthers, they'll be fighting WBC titlist Vitali Klitschko in the near future. Vitali's case against the WBC -- which is trying to make the titlist fight about 38 mandatories in a row thanks to their absurd rankings and presents to fighters like Oleg Maskaev, of all the people -- will soon be hashed out. If Vitali gets his way, he'll fight Arreola, apparently. If he doesn't, Arreola-Haye is a real possibility, and Vitali will be stuck fighting Maskaev and trying to land that fight on HBO or Showtime despite its complete lack of appeal.
One more bit about Haye: Everyone in his camp is "baffled" his injury, but Nick Peet of the Liverpool Echo says that Setanta's money troubles are not to blame. The injury is legit, he says.
- Golden Boy super prospect Daniel Jacobs will be back in action on the June 26 edition of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, facing 35-year old George Walton (20-3, 12 KO). Jacobs last fought on the Hatton-Pacquiao undercard, beating tough, durable veteran Michael Walker over eight rounds. I guess that might've been the fight of the night, huh?
Kassim the Dream has a review from Daniel Eagan, one of those "ehhh" reviews. Best part: "Ouma clearly enjoys playing to the camera, and he is expert at gauging what his listeners want to hear, whether they are drug dealers or congressional representatives." Another non-glowing review of the movie can be read here. The movie currently sits at 50% (3 out of 6) at Rotten Tomatoes. Frankly, it sounds like it's just not that good.
- Here's an incredibly fresh look at how MMA is killing boxing because boxing is boring and no MMA fight is ever bad. It's really about time someone said something. I've been trying to hold back for years, but I have to just say it: MMA is more popular than boxing these days. I know -- I know...
- Alabama's Deontay Wilder (who will be on the Jacobs-Walton FNF card) talks about the Boxing Act he's helped push in his home state. Even if he never pans out, he's already done a great service to the sport in Alabama. That's a dude worth rooting for.
- In case you missed it and are Paul Spadafora's cousin who might care, Spadafora has hired Pernell Whitaker to train him. Where he's getting the money to pay "Sweet Pea" is beyond me since he never fights and no one cares when he does. Most interesting in the story is that Spadafora is working with Whitaker because his trainer, Jesse Reid, has gone to the Wild Card in California to replace Michael Moorer as Freddie Roach's chief assistant.
- Former boxer Charles "Duke" Tanner (19-0, 11 KO from 1998-2004) of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking.
- Gabriel Montoya of Maxboxing has a nice feature on Amir Khan, who says he can still make 135 if he needs to. Freddie Roach says they'd be willing to fight Ricky Hatton at 140, or Juan Manuel Marquez at 135 or 140. I think talking about what's next for Khan is pretty foolish considering Andriy Kotelnik is a top five-ish guy at 140.
- Despite what seemed to be some recent problems between the two sides, Kelly Pavlik will be staying with Top Rank. He plans to sign a new, two-year deal with the company.