The heavyweight division for lack of a better term has been the baron wasteland of boxing for a little over a decade. It's been over ten years since the last meaningful heavyweight bout and even that involved two men past their expiration date in Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. Never the less the fight itself drew huge attention, money for both fighters, and the last peak of what was otherwise a golden era of top flight heavyweights in boxing. The late 80s and 90s served as a "Who's Who?" of the heavyweight elite. From Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis to Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Michael Moorer, and Ray Mercer, the quality of big men has gone from upper echelon to bottom of the barrel, due in large part to two robotic brothers from the Iron Curtain as well as the fading interest by a large segment of young athletic lads from the United States who forgo boxing for a more certain path to wealth and sports fame in the NBA and the NFL.
Boxing fans for years have placed blame for the death of heavyweight boxing solely on the broad shoulders of the Klitschko brothers who for a decade now have done nothing but win and keep the belts, dispatching every opponent that stands across from them in soccer stadiums in Germany. But you can't blame Vitali and Wlad for simply reigning in an era devoid of legitimate contenders or standout talent. It's not their fault Eddie Chambers has the size of Mike Tyson minus his ability to destroy men five, six inches taller, and fifteen pounds heavier with one power punch. It's not their fault Tony Thompson, a glorified sparring partner has a shot at the IBF heavyweight title in a rematch surely to steal any evidence of suspense given the fact that Thompson lost the first fight decisively.
We can't blame the brothers for Hassim Rahman's refusal to retire when he's clearly past the starting line of his career. If Rock can't beat Alexander Povetkin then what business would he have getting back into the ring against either Klitschko? I have no desire to hear Rahman's corner yelling "Rock, Rock get off the ropes!" a second time. Who else is out there? Ray Austin?
You have the Magic Man Antonio Tarver calling out Wladimir Klitschko for a second time but those calls were met with laughs from boxing fans who while we all love Tarver and genuinely appreciate his underrated skill and accomplishments, he's hall of famer, but honestly a highly skilled 43 year old Tarver would not fare much better than a 31 year old David Haye who himself is highly skilled; broken toe or no broken toe.
But let not your heart be troubled as the bible says because the future of the big man division looks bright at last. Ignore the circus at Upton Park for a moment and feast your eyes on David Price and Seth Mitchell. These two gentlemen have impressed fans on both sides of the Atlantic and each fight they improve beyond what we expect given their relative inexperience. Price continues to dominate the competition and on Saturday picked up the British and Commonwealth belts after he dismantled Sam Sexton. For Seth Mitchell many in the US and some overseas are starting to come around on what he's really made of and how far he can go. His level of opposition rises every time and he goes out and he meets those expectations. What I really like about Price and Mitchell is their sense of reality. Both men have stated on numerous occasions that a fight with either Klitschko is too soon at this point and that they would need to have more experience under their belt before taking on that challenge.
Barry McGuigan made a great point when he said the Klitschkos purposely target standout prospects in order to get them early rather than when they develop into a real threat. Now I know something like this isn't unique to boxing but I must admit it made me look at the Klitschkos a little different because it reeks of dirty tactics. I'm just glad both David Price and Seth Mitchell know they aren't ready yet and wouldn't dive head first into a quick big money fight with Vitali or Wladimir. I only wish Tyson Fury had that kind of humility and reason but he doesn't strike me as a real bright bulb anyway so what can you do?