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Brewster's Millions: An Old Road to New Glory

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

I don't find it to be necessarily 100% true, but the story is that boxing thrives when the heavyweight division is interesting.

For a sport that is so often reported to be dying, it's funny that a 154-pound title fight broke all-time records for pay-per-view buys, pay-per-view revenue, and live gates, a 140-pound title fight in Vegas drew 10,000 fans from England, Joe Calzaghe is putting 35,000 in the seats in Wales for what amounted to (on paper, even) a non-fight, and a welterweight title bout set an all-time boxing attendance record at Madison Square Garden, a venue that has seen its share of big names.

Where is this death of boxing?

I am not arguing that a good heavyweight division or a good heavyweight fight can't alter the landscape of the sport for the better, but only that the appeal of the heavyweight fighter is the only thing in boxing that is actually in danger. With years of unsatisfying matchups and no superstar-like figure in the division, what used to be the sport's money division is now, well, not. Think of some of the championship fights we've seen in the last year. Klitschko and Brock -- that was as good as it got. Klitschko/Austin was a joke, and everyone knew it. Liakhovich/Briggs, Briggs/Ibragimov, Valuev/Barrett, Valuev/McCline, Valuev/Chagaev, Rahman/Maskaev, Maskaev/Okhello (a farce on par with Klitschko/Austin). There hasn't been a single, real major heavyweight title fight since Klitschko destroyed Byrd, and that was hardly a huge deal.

Saturday's fight in Köln, Germany, between IBF/IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and challenger Lamon Brewster is about as good as you're going to get for the time being. It's a rematch with two guys who can punch, with a good background story, and it should do 20,000 or so at Kölnarena. Klitschko is a star in the U.S., but he's a huge star in Europe.

We all know that Wlad is the undisputed No. 1 heavyweight in the world right now. Since losing to Brewster in 2004, he has been a man on a mission. Even a beating at the hands of Samuel Peter couldn't deter him; he was taken to the woodshed that night by a strong fighter, and he still won. Byrd, Brock and Austin felt the power of the new Klitschko, but none of them were big punchers.

Brewster, at 33-3 with 29 knockouts, is a big puncher. He has power in both hands, and it's power that Wladimir is well aware of. For the 34-year old Brewster, this fight is something of a gift. Since losing to Sergei Liakhovich in April of 2006, he hasn't been in the ring. A lot of people would, logically, question his current credentials as a challenger for two titles. But given what we've seen, isn't it at least nice to have someone standing across from Klitschko that might actually be able to beat him?

I'll take this over another Klitschko/Austin, or Klitschko/Brock. Brock is a solid fighter, but the matchup isn't there. Wladimir Klitschko's chin is still suspect until he takes heavy bombs and doesn't go down. His last three fights haven't seen him face a guy that can hurt him. If Brewster is still as strong as he used to be, he can.

The odds are against Brewster winning, of course, but they were against him beating Wlad in 2004. He's something of a live dog, but I'd be ignoring the obvious if I didn't say one more thing.

Lamon Brewster's entire career and reputation have been built on one night, April 10, 2004, when he knocked Klitschko out in the fifth round. His second-best win is Luan Krasniqi, another TKO, in the ninth round, with Brewster behind on every scorecard at the time of stoppage. Against Wlad, he was saved by the bell in the fourth round.

What else is there to Brewster's record? Kali Meehan was an unproven guy that has yet to come back from his loss to Brewster. Golota? "Irish" Tommy Martin? Nate Jones?

If Lamon Brewster can beat Klitschko again, the real truth of the matter is that it just further muddies the waters in the heavyweight division. You're then left with no clear-cut top dog, which even without unifications and all that is something of a comfort. Klitschko currently carries the torch. Brewster isn't Klitschko.

He has a puncher's chance, which some have started to wrongly interpret as "not having a chance except for one big punch." That's not it -- the puncher's chance comes from a guy who can really punch, giving him the opportunity to beat a more skilled opponent. Klitschko is much more skilled. He's a better boxer, he's a smarter boxer, and right now, he's fighting at peak form. He's not an all-time great, but he's pretty goddamn good.

If he loses, and he should, then Lamon Brewster is as good as finished, more likely than not. And then what does Wladimir do? He'd be out of old redemption stories. And he'd be out of legitimate challengers for the next two years or so.

Heavyweight boxing ain't what it used to be, no. But, luckily, it really doesn't much matter. But you know what? It could be a really fun fight, which is a big step up for the division. You take the good, you take the bad...

[Despite my less-than-glowing opinions on this fight, I'll be here on Saturday afternoon as HBO presents Klitschko/Brewster II live from Germany, with round-by-round scoring and analysis. I'll also be back Saturday night for the Showtime card featuring Simms/Alcine and Vic Darchinyan's latest massacre.]

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