Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Whitaker-Krasniqi Prediction: The super-secret WBO title eliminator

By JE Grant

May 28 --: Lance Whitaker (29-2-1, 24 KOs) vs. Luan Krasniqi (27-1-1, 13 KOs) WBO heavyweight eliminator

For reasons known only to the serious thinkers on the WBO ratings committee, the best two heavyweights in the world other than champion Lamon Brewster are none other than Lance Whitaker and Luan Krasniqi.

Vitali Klitschko, Chris Byrd, and John Ruiz (the on-again WBA champion) are of course non-existent in the eyes of the WBO because they hold belts of other organizations. No it does not make sense. How about serious contender Hasim Rahman? Not even in the top 15. Wladimir Klitschko? Number 13. Former WBO titlist Corrie Sanders, a winner in his last fight? No mention.

If you think I’m less than serious in viewing this as a true title eliminator you’re right. Krasniqi was able to muster only a draw in his last bout, a European title defense against Timo Hoffmann.

He has also been stopped by little-known Pole, Przemyslaw Saleta. Whitaker, on the other hand, has had his moments. Wins over Oleg Maskaev and Monte Barrett served notice that the 6’8” “Mount” Whitaker was in the hunt for a top rating. A tough loss to Jameel McCline and some management issues led to a stall in his career. Since that loss, however, he has scored 6 wins and 1 draw against distinctly modest opposition.

He deserves to be rated in the top 15, but he is not the number one contender by a long shot. Still, he’ll likely take this one despite fighting in Germany, the Kosovar Krasniqi’s adopted stomping ground. Despite his great size Whitaker is not a giant puncher, but he’ll have enough juice to put away Krasniqi. Whitaker by KO in 8.

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