Brewster-Lyakhovich Preview: Another heavyweight title up for grabs
When Lamon Brewster enters the ring on April Fool’s day he will assume the risk of looking the part of the fool against an unsung but talented Seguei Lyakhovich.
Starting with his improbable stoppage of one-time wunderkind Wladimir Klitschko in 2004, Brewster not only rejuvenated a seemingly stagnant career, he established firm credentials as the division’s most exciting fighter. He also showed a resilience rarely seen in the heavyweight division by both the other beltholders and would-be contenders alike.
Brewster, perhaps boxing’s most personable fighter wearing a title belt – it’s up to you if you want to call him “champion” – will once again take a chance against a big, strong eastern European.
Like his last challenger, German resident (via Kosovo) Luan Krasniqi, the opponent Lyakhovich is largely unknown in American boxing circles, but the people who do know him understand that he is no pushover for Brewster to feast upon.
In that fight (unfortunately not seen on television in the U.S.), Brewster followed the quick-fisted Krasniqi and was peppered with sharp punches falling far behind. His confidence and persistent attack allowed him to connect hard on Krasniqi, dropping him in round eight. Buoyed by the success, Brewster pounded on Krasniqi in the next round, forcing the former European titlist to quit.
Likewise, in a defense that many thought would result in Poland’s Andrew Golota finally being crowned with a world title, “Relentless” pounded the Pole to the canvas three times in the opening frame to score a stunning stoppage at only 52 seconds of the round.
Only in his first defense, a dreadful 12 round decision over unheralded and very limited Kali Meehan, did he fail to excite. He appeared vulnerable and at times confused. Nevertheless he fought hard to pull out a split decision to retain the belt.
Brewster will give up a couple of years, three inches in height, and about 10-15 pounds in weight to Lyakhovich which is about what he gave up to Klitschko.
Whatever physical advantages Lyakhovich may possess, he enters the ring with many question marks.
While Lyakhovich comes to the bout with a slate 22-1 (14 KOs), it is that one loss that is troubling. A 9th round stoppage to journeyman Maurice Harris in 2002 did little to inspire confidence in the then-prospect.
He claims to have learned plenty from that fight; a fight in which he was overconfident. Harris, long seen as a talented though uninspired heavyweight, removed the veneer of invincibility that Lyakhovich apparently wrapped himself in.
Since that loss, the big – 6’4”, 240 pound – battler has garnered six straight victories topped by a clear points win over the enigmatic one-time hot prospect Dominick Guinn.
Of course the only problem with that win is that it took place in December 2004. A series of injuries, cancelled bouts (including a proposed title bout with Chris Byrd), and stars falling out of alignment, resulted in no fights for almost 15 months.
Coupled with that, the subsequent lack-luster performances by Guinn (D10 Friday Ahunanya and L12 James Toney) makes one wonder about the true pedigree he brought into his bout with Lyakhovich.
Certainly it is true that Lyakhovich from Belarus but now residing in Arizona, is not someone who has hidden away fighting European also-rans by the bushel. All but his first three contests have been in the U.S. --- largely against American also-rans.
Does that, however, still help him understand the very American style that he will face against Brewster?
Brewster himself has had tremendous success in his tour of eastern European stylists. Does that give him the true advantage?
This bout will likely come down to grit.
Neither fighter boxes beautifully. Perhaps Lyakhovich has a slight edge in overall skills and can mount a respectable attack led by a jab.
Brewster, however, can land a booming left hook and when he does chins can crumble. Lyakhovich probably can withstand a fair amount of punishment.
Lyakhovich also has above average power but Brewster has proven he can fight through adversity and big hitters; Klitshcko hit him solidly throughout their meeting.
Still, beyond the stat sheet lies the intangibles. When faced with extreme adversity, Brewster came through big. Only Harris has tested Lyakhovich big and he did not measure up.
Did Lyakhovich learn his lesson? Can he adjust when he is crunched by a looping left?
My suspicion is that Brewster will lay such questions upon the chin of Lyakhovich early and often. The bigger man will be pounced upon by the tiger Brewster from the opening bell and will have to respond in kind or find himself overwhelmed.
He will indeed respond and likely hold his ground against the busy titlist. Where he will come up short is in his ability to sustain an attack necessary to slow Brewster and negate his big shots.
I won’t be surprised to see Lyakhovich make it a distance fight and win several rounds. He does have some talent and can put more than one punch at a time on an opponent as open as Brewster. No one really knows if he can keep it up for a long stretch. Look for him to fade as the bout wears on.
This could be a solid contest and it is good to see a challenger who has a real chance to win --- but he won’t do it on this night.
PREDICTION: Brewster by a relatively close 12 round decision.