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Chagaev Promises To Make Good on New Title Shot

From the depths of the Zaire jungle to a small town in Montana whose audacious hosting left it on the brink of bankruptcy, the world heavyweight title thought it had seen it all.

But the so-called 'richest prize in sport' will break new and controversial ground on Sunday when Ruslan Chagaev and Fres Oquendo fight for the WBA belt in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

The event is the brainchild of Chagaev's manager Timur Dugazaev and Chechnya's pro-Moscow president Ramzan Kadyrov, who himself claims to be a former keen amateur boxer.

"This will be the biggest boxing show in the world," insists Dugazaev, who will fly in Hall of Fame ring announcer Michael Buffer for the occasion and has swathed the city in 80-foot high posters of the combatants.

"I am pretty sure that even [Buffer] will say that he has never seen anything like it - despite his 30 years' experience and all the huge Klitschko shows he has worked on."

It is quite some accomplishment for a city devastated by two brutal wars in the 1990s and which was described by the United Nations in 2002 as "the most destroyed city on earth."

The credit for much of its dramatic regeneration is due to Kadyrov, who assumed the republic's presidency at the age of just 28 after his father and former president Akhmat Kadyrov was assassinated in 2004.

Kadyrov has pumped billions of dollars into rebuilding the city and Sunday's fight will take place at the three-year-old Akhmat Arena - named in honour of his father - where 30,000 fans are expected to be present.

But the revival has come at a big price for some. Respected human rights observers including Human Rights Watch and the Russian Memorial organisation continue to accuse Kadyrov and his acolytes of serious human rights violations.

For all the superstars expected to be flown into the city via private jet, there remains a distinct undercurrent of unease, not least when Kadyrov rounded off a publicity sparring session with Chagaev last week with the claim: "I may not be the best boxer in the world, but I know where you have to hit somebody."

And then there are the combatants. Even by the spurious standards of recent world heavyweight title history, the credentials of Chagaev and in particular Oquendo take very little beating.

Chagaev is a one-time top level fighter who became the first man to defeat Russian giant Nikolai Valuev in 2007 but was prevented by capitalising on his triumph due to illness and injury, and suffered a tired retirement defeat to Wladimir Klitschko two years later.

A subsequent loss to Alexander Povetkin has not stopped Chagaev benefiting from Klitschko's rise to unfathomable WBA 'super' champion status, which enables him to go into Sunday's showdown in Grozny with the 'regular' WBA belt back on the line.

He is unlikely to strain himself against Oquendo, the 41-year-old Puerto Rican who has had more than his fair share of top-level chances, losing consecutive title shots at Chris Byrd and John Ruiz in 2003 and 2004 respectively, and suffering back-to-back losses to Jean Marc Mormeck and the creaking Oliver McCall in 2010.

Not that questionable credentials are likely to rain on Kadyrov's parade, and Chagaev is certainly saying the right things to placate those who see Sunday's bout as a platform to project a new, improved version of Grozny back onto the world stage.

"It's no secret that I've had some ups and downs over the last few years, but I've had an excellent training camp and I have waited a long time for another title shot," said Chagaev.

"They just took the championship from me and now I am taking it back. I am sure I can show everybody I still have what it takes to be the heavyweight champion of the world."

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by ScottWeiland on 07-03-2014

[QUOTE=Dirk Diggler UK;14722495]It accurately describes you. First Fury ducked Pulev to fight Haye. Now Haye ducked Chagaev to fight Wladimir. Using the same logic, Wladimir ducked Chisora twice.[/QUOTE] Wlad was shook alright.I expect him to vacate all his belts should…

Comment by Freedom. on 07-03-2014

Chagaev says he'll fight Luis Ortiz if he gets past Oquendo. If Oquendo wins, he'll likely try to bypass Ortiz and fight Haye. Chagaev was a very good heavyweight. He beat a younger, better version of Nicolay Valuev by a…

Comment by Dirk Diggler UK on 07-03-2014

[QUOTE=Scott.Weiland;14722468]I was pointing out the fact he was desperate to avoid an actual challenge at the weight,as he knew he wouldn't beat either,so he went through the lengths to fabricate a lie. Scott is sounding a little jaded lately.I hope…

Comment by ScottWeiland on 07-03-2014

[QUOTE=joe strong;14722401]come on man you are smarter then that. chagaev couldn't get a licence outside Germany for a long time. most European commissions wouldn't sanction one of his fights because of the hep b thing. it is not a secret…

Comment by joe strong on 07-03-2014

[QUOTE=Dirk Diggler UK;14722439]Why would you defend a title against bum ass Chagaev when a much bigger unification fight against the world's best was on the table? Why are you continuing to make yourself look spasticated?[/QUOTE]your sig? I think I recall…

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