By Dave Wilcox
Over the past few years, complaining about the heavyweight division has been the in vogue thing to do. I am as guilty as anyone I suppose. I can attest that this here scribe has sat on the couch many a night dreaming about the good old days when the likes of Tim Witherspoon, Tony Tubbs and Pinklon Thomas ruled the heavyweight landscape.
After watching Lamon Brewster go “Tyson” on Andrew Golota last Saturday night, my usual negative attitude has suddenly started to take a turn towards being positive and excited about my beloved heavyweights. I won’t sit here and say Lamon Brewster is our savior, all Lamon did is beat the underachieving Golota. That in itself won’t get the boxing hall of fame to make a phone call. What that performance did do, is bring some much needed excitement back to the division. In 53 seconds, Brewster went from a joke of a champ to a guy who many believe can give Vitali Klitschko a run for his money. What a difference 53 seconds can make.
Aside from Brewster, there are a lot of things to be pleased with in the heavyweight division. Even though I’m only on step six of my twelve step program trying to recover from the John Ruiz reinstatement, James Toney has still made his case for heavyweight superiority. His suspension will be short and he will be back to “knock out all the bums” in no time.
Due to the ongoing injury problems of Vitali Klitschko, his intriguing fight against Hasim Rahman has been put on hold. Instead of Klitschko, Rahman will now be fighting the very underrated and underappreciated Monte Barrett. Don’t be surprised if Barrett snatches that title shot away from the inconsistent Rahman. Barrett is a good guy who works hard and deserves a title shot.
Chris Byrd will share the stage with Rahman-Barrett when he defends his IBF heavyweight title against the unknown Sergei Lyakhovich. Chris Byrd is not the most excited guy to watch, but if you look at his career, it is pretty impressive what Byrd has been able to accomplish. Byrd is undersized and lacks heavyweight power, but has managed to stay undefeated since October of 2000. In the last few years, Byrd defeated such fighters as Evander Holyfield, David Tua and Jameel McCline. I won’t rush out and purchase my Chris Byrd fan club membership just yet, but he does deserve some respect. Both bouts are part of a Don King promoted pay per view card which takes place in New York's Madison Squre Garden.
Another reason to be happy about heavyweights is that for the first time in a long time, there are actually some heavyweights coming up with some potential. I know I’m not the only one who is very excited about Samuel Peter’s power. Peter's knockout over Jeremy Williams still makes me cover my eyes when I watch the tape. Aside from Peter, there are guys like Calvin Brock and Owen Beck that appear to have talent. Monte Barrett defeated Beck a few months back, but with some seasoning, Owen Beck can become a contender once again. We even have our token freak show, Russian Nicolay Valuev who stands at 7 feet tall. Recently, Valuev actually beat a guy with a heartbeat when he stopped heavyweight veteran Clifford Etienne. The undefeated Valuev plans to keep stepping up his level competition in order to land a title shot in 2006.
Anyone notice that the name Mike Tyson hasn't been mentioned yet? Tyson thrilled us in the past, but let’s move on. There are plenty of exciting fighters and potential fights out there to feed our hunger. We don’t need Tyson anymore and truth be told, Tyson can’t beat good fighters any longer.
Random thoughts from the last couple weeks
- A PPV card with the headliner of Christy Martin vs. Lujcia Riker? At Least Jorge Arce is on the undercard getting his much deserved title shot against Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
- I still don’t like “The Contender”. I love watching the fights, but it’s the soap opera part I can’t stand.
- If I hear one more person suggest that Bernard Hopkins needs to beat Winky Wright to secure greatness, I might explode!
- I’m also tired of the mouthpiece talk regarding Diego Corrales. People are taking away from what was a classic bout by discussing this issue. All Castillo had to do, was not get knocked out. Give Corrales credit for the victory. The WBC smokescreen is ridiculous.