By Jake Donovan
Given past history in attempting to schedule this fight, it remains to be seen whether or not a proposed heavyweight clash between Ruslan Chagaev and Fres Oquendo will come to fruition.
A recent press release suggests the oft-postponed bout will now take place on July 6 in Grozny, Russia, rescheduled from its previously floated date of June 7.
The reasons cited were to give all parties involved more time to properly prepare for what its handlers claim will be a huge event. The proposed fight date of July 6 – a Sunday – is offered to avoid conflict with this year’s World Cup competition.
“In consultation with the team of Fres Oquendo and the WBA, we had to put the fight back a bit,” said promoter Timur Dugazaev. “We are planning a mega event and want everything to be perfectly prepared. This also gives us more time to look after the invitations and visas to the many guests of honor.”
A question worth asking, however, is if all parties have been properly represented.
While all events can stand to benefit from extra time to allow for preparation, securing a sufficient guest list had little to do with the fight being pulled from its original June 7 fight date in Hamburg, Germany. The main reason for the delay – if not cancellation altogether – was because Oquendo was misrepresented in negotiations, namely failing to include his promoters.
“Along with Roy Jones’ Square Ring Promotions, Hitz Boxing has an exclusive promotional contract with Fres Oquendo,” promoter Bobby Hitz pointed out last month in having the Chagaev bout scrapped. “The contract which we have, provided Fres the opportunity to stay active and continue his path towards becoming a world champion, a goal we set forth as a team when we signed him.
“My understanding is this bout with Chagaev has been negotiated without our knowledge or input, a clear violation of the contract Hitz Boxing and Square Ring Promotions have with Fres. At this point both of our entities, Hitz Boxing and Square Ring Promotions, will pursue legal remedies against all parties seeking to engage Fres Oquendo in this bout as they will be in tortious interference of our contract.”
Chagaev’s side is pushing forward with the July 6 fight date, at least for the moment. The show is scheduled to take place at Ahmat Arena, a 30,000-seat venue in Grozny. The winner will hold a lesser version of a title already in possession of true lineal heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Both fighters enter on the heels of five-fight win streaks, though neither have been terribly active as of late.
Chagaev (32-2-1, 20KO) hasn’t fought since a 12-round points win over Jovo Pudar last October in Moscow. The former heavyweight titlist has won seven of his last eight since being dethroned by Klitschko in June ’09. His lone setback over that stretch came in a 12-round points loss to then unbeaten Alexander Povetkin in their vacant title fight in Aug. ’11.
Oquendo (37-7, 24KO) takes his third stab at a heavyweight title. The 41-year old Chicago native came up short in back-to-back fights in the early 2000’s, landing on the wrong end of a controversial split decision in a Sept. ’03 title fight with Chris Byrd, and then suffering an 11th round stoppage at the hands of John Ruiz seven months later in one of the worst heavyweight title fights ever.
The past 10 years following his failed title challenges have remained in line with his hard-luck career. The 41-year old is 13-4 over the past decade, though all four losses came in closely scored contests that could have easily landed in his favor.
His last ring appearance came in May, scoring a 2nd round knockout over journeyman Galen Brown. The win came following an 11-month hiatus, with hopes of immediately jumping into the ring for the offered title fight with Chagaev before running into more legal snags.
Two more heavyweight fights are planned for the undercard. Former cruiserweight champ and heavyweight title challenger Juan Carlos Gomez will face unbeaten Goran Delic, while rising German prospect Edmund Gerber will face Mexico’s Vicente Sandez.
The show’s heavyweight theme extends to its guest list. Event handlers have named former lineal champions Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield among the roster of stars to attend, along with former title claimants Lamon Brewster and David Haye.
"We are planning to set up the biggest boxing show the world has ever (seen). It will be a huge production,” Dugazaev promises.
Let’s hope the referenced production is for the show itself, and not another cancellation and subsequent legal battle due to misrepresentation.
Email inquiries to Oquendo's promoters weren't immediately returned at time of publication.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox