Friday, September 29, 2006

Top 25 Heavyweights (As of October, 2006)

By JE Grant

Of course the big controversy in September occurred in the Sam Peter – James Toney eliminator bout. Toney appeared to have outpointed Peter but the split vote went the other direction. The WBC decided to over-rule a prior notification that the winner would be a mandatory challenger to Oleg Maskaev. Of course stranger things have happened before – Toney gained an earlier shot at Hasim Rahman as the “mandatory” when the WBC decided to skip over its then-number one contender Maskaev. Don’t worry about figuring out the wild decisions of any of the alphabets and don’t think for one moment that any one of them can lay legitimate claim to being better or more noble than any of the others.

October brings with it a title defense of sorts when Nicolay Valuev takes on the long-dormant Monte Barrett. This bout does not inspire any great faith in the big guy. Perhaps at some point he will choose to take on a top contender.

Although there are minimal changes since last month, some of the shifts are noteworthy. The injured Lamon Brewster begins to fall as months pass with no word on a possible comeback.

The performances of James Toney and Sam Peter were convincing enough to indicate that both Maskaev and Rahman would be hard-pressed to beat either.

Once again, many thanks to Brian Bizzack and Troy Ondrizek. Each continues to provide insight and information that improve this compilation.

* * *

1. Wladimir Klitschko, Ukraine – IBF Champion (Last month #1) Potentially the best matchup awaits when Klitschko faces undefeated Calvin Brock in November. Brock has enough power to pose a legitimate threat. He’s also very available to receive Klitschko quick-fisted attack.

2. Serguei Liakhovich, Belarus – WBO Champion (Last month #2) The real question when Liakhovich faces Shannon Briggs is which Briggs will show up. If a svelte 245 pound Briggs meets Liakhovich it may actually be a fight for a while. If Briggs is 273, as he was for his last bout, it will be an early and easy night for the “White Wolf.”

3. Calvin Brock, USA (Last month #4) Brock has re-signed with his old promoter and presumably with some more money in his account. It’s a good thing he secured his cash now because in November he faces his stiffest challenge, Wladimir Klitschko. He’ll go in a decided underdog. No doubt that he needs to raise his game in every department if he is to conquer the speedy, hard-hitting titlist Klitschko. He does have the one attribute that has proven effective --- he can hit with authority. That is likely his only real chance for victory.

4. Lamon Brewster, USA (Last month #3) As much as we hate to admit it, Brewster’s eye injury has already dealt a blow to Lamon’s activity level. If and when he returns, he’ll need a few bouts against lesser opponents to get him back in the flow.

5 (Tie). Samuel Peter, Nigeria (Last month #5) In this column last month we said Peter would take care of old man James Toney --- but it did not happen, despite the scores. Big Sam looked good in spots and he did land some heavy leather. Unfortunately Toney’s pecking and poking shots landed with much greater frequency and with enough authority to deserve the nod.

5 (Tie). James Toney, USA (Last month #8) I was fully prepared to push “Lights Out” into the bottom ten, assuming a big loss to Peter. But let’s face it, he was ripped off. He landed plenty and withstood the occasional mega-shots from the young, strong Peter. Toney showed he has some juice in his tank. Anyone on this list would have a difficult night against him.

7. Oleg Maskaev, Uzbekistan / USA – WBC Champion (Last month #6) The “Big O” decided against the huge money shot at the best heavyweight, Wladimir Klitschko, in order to take on the completely undeserving Peter Okhello in Moscow in December. Okhello fights most often in Japan and has never beaten anyone remotely near the world-class level. His most notable opponent was tough journeyman Kali Meehan – to whom he lost. He appears to have a little kick in his punches, but it is hard to tell given his slate of opponents to date.

8. Hasim Rahman, USA – (Last Month #7) The still fairly marketable Rahman may next face Sinan Samil Sam in Germany in some kind of WBC eliminator. One never really knows what the WBC has in mind.

9. Nicolay Valuev, Russia – WBA Champion (Last month #9) The newly minted “Russian Giant” conducted a roadshow with Don King trying to convince us that his bout with Monte Barrett (or is it Monte Masters?) is really a title fight. The only thing we can draw out of this US tour is that his former moniker, “The Beast from the East,” was far more original.

10. Sultan Ibragimov, Russia (Last month #10) For some reason, the WBO vaulted Sultan over Luan Krasniqi to its number one position. Of course it was ridiculous to have Krasniqi there in the first place, but Ibragimov moved to the top spot based on a draw with Ray Austin. We can only hope that Ibragimov goes in against a real top ten opponent (or a rematch with Austin) before anyone awards him a “mandatory” title shot. He has enough talent to make it --- he doesn’t need a boost.

11. Ray Austin, USA (Last month #11) Hopefully you read about Ibragimov above. Now get this --- Austin actually fell in the latest WBO ratings from number 14 to number 15. Figure that one out.

12. John Ruiz, USA (Last month #12) The number one WBA contender has reportedly signed with German manager Wilfried Sauerland. This will undoubtedly result in a title shot. Don’t be surprised to see Ruiz jet to the top of another sanctioning body’s list to go along with his WBA rating. I continue to remind readers of this column that Ruiz has not won a fight since November 2004. He has a WBA eliminator with Ruslan Chagaev scheduled for October.

13. Shannon Briggs, USA (Last month #13) His WBO title bout with Liakhovich represents his last shot at the big time. A loss means permanent relegation to club shows.

14. Ruslan Chagaev, Uzbekistan (Last month #14) As he prepares for John Ruiz, he should contemplate what a win will mean. For fans it will mean that the Huggmeister (now that Ruiz is signed with a German promoter it is only fitting that he has a German-sounding nickname) no longer would be a potential title contender and thus no longer someone we have to watch on TV. For Chagaev, it means breaking away from the pack of talented up-and-coming European heavyweights.

15. DaVarryl Williamson, USA (Last month #15) Rumors have it that “Touch of Sleep” will face journeyman Przemyslaw Saleta later this fall. It’s good to see that he is getting back to the action. Saleta is 3-3 in last six bouts, but one of the wins was a stoppage of Luan Krasniqi.

16. Fres Oquendo, USA (Last month #16) Oquendo is the latest fighter selected to face the shell of Evander Holyfield. Unlike journeyman Jeremy Bates, Oquendo actually has some skills, some speed, and better than average power. All of that spells disaster for Holyfield at the very ripe age of 43.

17. Matt Skelton, England (Last month #17) A possible British Commonwealth defense against formerly highly regarded Audley Harrison is reportedly being negotiated. Harrison may have the skills to take the lumbering Skelton out of his game --- depending on which Harrison shows up.

18. Jameel McCline, USA (Last month #18) After a burst of activity January through July, suddenly nothing is on the boards. Last month there were whispers of a bout with Gonzalo Omar Basile. Basile will instead travel to Germany to face Alexander Dimitrenko.

19. Danny Williams, England (Last month #19) Now that British champion Scott Gammer successfully defended his belt in September maybe a deal can be reached for a shot with Danny, a practicing Muslim who declined to meet Gammer during Ramadan.

20. Luan Krasniqi, Germany (Last month #20) Perhaps his recent pullouts have cost him something. One month he was rated number one and suddenly Sultan Ibragimov surpasses him in the WBO ratings. Of course it never made sense for Krasniqi to be number one so it should not come as a surprise to see a change.

21. Tony Thompson, USA (Last month #21) Idle since his June win over Dominick Guinn.

22. David Tua, New Zealand (Last month #22) – Tuaman has fought only once in 2006. Inactivity is his biggest foe, because with an active schedule he could find himself in the title picture very quickly.

23. Vladimir Virchis, Ukraine (Last month #23) “The Hunter” is still looking to parlay his new EBU title into some real EUROS. There is now some real talent in Europe and don’t be surprised to see more and more top Americans venturing there to face big draws like Virchis.

24. Monte Barrett, USA (Last month #24) His career begins and ends October 7th when he faces the giant Valuev.

25. Eddie Chambers, USA (Last month #25) Philly’s 27-0, 24 year-old Chambers represents a glimmer of hope for American heavyweights. He has yet to meet and beat the top 10 guys necessary to stake his claim, but he’s on the right track.

Prospects, fringe contenders, and others who need mentioning listed in no particular order. Don’t read the fact that they are listed here as an indication a ranking is imminent. Regular readers should also note that I’ve taken off some names that were here in months past who still rate attention. We're highlighting activity and when potentially top fighters have bouts scheduled you’ll likely see them reappear.

Chris Byrd, USA – Some cruiserweight possibilities seem to have floated away. We await Chris’ career decision.

Oliver McCall, USA – The former titlist stopped journeyman Darroll Wilson in September. McCall is now 20-1 (with 2 NCs) in his last 23 bouts. Lest anyone forget, in 1996 the “Atomic Bull,” scored a one-round knockout over the "Big O" in Maskaev’s seventh bout. At 41, he is just four years older than Maskaev. Is a rematch possible? If the Bull keeps winning don’t be surprised to see the fight signed.

Jean Francois Bergeron, Canada – The tall 33 year-old Canadian moved to 25-0 with a fifth-round stoppage of Edgar Da Silva in Montreal in September.

Joe Mesi, USA – Okay now we’re worried about Joe. He did move to 33-0 in September but he did it in a four-round bout against a 36 year-old opponent who is now 3-2. Will he break out of this circuit soon?

Chazz Witherspoon, USA – Chazz returned in September to stop Innocent Otukuwu in Philly. We can only imagine that Innocent’s nickname is “By-Stander” because has now lost his last six bouts, five by knockout. By the way Witherspoon weighed exactly what he did in his televised fight against Michael Alexander in July. He was very fleshy to say the least.

Alexander Povetkin, Russia – His September win over American Ed Mahone looks better on paper than it really should lead us to believe. Mahone picked up many wins early in his career but has now lost 8 of his last 10. Still, the former Olympic gold medal winner Povetkin is staying focused and busy. Don’t be surprised if he is a legitimately ranked fighter by mid 2007.

Gonzalo Omar Basile, Argentina – The hulking 25-1 Argentine will face by far his stiffest test when he travels to Germany in October to face budding superstar Alexander Dimintrenko. This is a tremendous matchup.

J.D. Chapman, USA – The 23 year-old stopped trial-horse Ray Lunsford in Arkansas in September. He moved his record to a fat 25-0 (22 KOs). If nothing else he’s been busy – six fights this year. He’s working with Jeff Mayweather to refine his game. Look for him to start making some noise this time next year.

Denis Boytsov, Russia – In September he beat Ondrej Pala in Germany on a fifth round stoppage due to cut.

Roman Greenberg, England (via Israel) – One last fight in Europe – in November – and then he ventures to the U.S. under the auspices of Warrior Boxing. We will undoubtedly see him a lot next year.

Alexander Dimitrenko, Ukraine – Finally a big showdown with a streaking opponent, Gonzalo Omar Basile. The big Argentine has won 12 fights in 2006. He’s also only one inch shorter than the 6’7” Dimitrenko. Big fight for the youngster.

Damian Wills, USA – The 21-0-1 prospect is scheduled to take on fellow unbeaten Chris Arreola, 17-0, in November. How often have you seen two hotshots taking on each other with no title on the line? This is the kind of confidence that could lead to something big.

Scott Gammer, England – October will be a pivotal month as Gammer defends his British belt against Michael Steeds. If he emerges relatively unscathed perhaps he can lure Danny Williams into the ring. The Muslim Williams, you will note, pulled out of an earlier proposed bout for Ramadan observance.

Travis Walker, USA – A big bout with fellow touted prospect Jason Estrada awaits in November. He and Estrada were busy in September. Walker stopped John Clark to advance to 21-0-1 (17 KOs).

Jason Estrada, USA – He decisioned Maurice Wheeler over eight rounds in September. The win now brings him to 7-0, 1NC (1 KO). The fact that he has only one stoppage win may foretell difficulties down the road with fighters who can not only go the distance but can win rounds with power.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Toney to get rematch with Peter

By JE Grant

Despite a pre-fight notice that the winner of the Samuel Peter – James Toney fight Sept. 2 would get a shot at the WBC “world” title, the WBC issued a press release Sept. 26 announcing a requirement that Peter must meet Toney in a rematch despite capturing a split decision victory in their first match.

Although it was clear to this observer that Toney should have captured the decision, two of the three paid judges at ringside scored the bout for Peter.

The purpose of the rematch, according to a poorly written news release from the WBC, is that it “will clear the air and we will have official undisputable challenger to our new champion Oleg Maskaev.”

The organization has taken it upon itself to renege on the promise that the winner of the bout would challenge Maskaev. Is it the position of the organization that there was an illegal action that led to the decision? If so, there’s nothing in this new edict that points to that conclusion.

Another listed reason is that “the WBC believes that at this moment there can not be a more interesting heavyweight fight than this rematch, and it will be very good for boxing.” Really? How about Wladimir Klitschko vs. Oleg Maskaev? Maybe Klitschko vs. Serguei Liakhovich?

More importantly, it is insufficient to say that because a bout would be “interesting” is it acceptable to negate a decision gained in the ring – however controversial it may be.

Further amusing is the WBC’s contention that because Toney was number one going in, “he had no need to fight anyone to gain the right to contend for the title. By choosing Samuel Peter, the highest rated boxer adopted a top-level sports decision and the WBC wishes that the official challenger be the winner of this rematch so nobody has doubts about it.”

Again, poor English aside, is the WBC really satisfied with saying that a number one contender need not win fights when he is waiting for a title contest? Consider the possible implications of that statement. Are number one contenders now exempt from the need to continue winning?

Disputed decisions are a part of boxing and always have been. Decisions about who should and should not contend for a title are always debatable in the best of circumstances.

In this circumstance, the organization ruled that the winner would face Maskaev. There was a clear line drawn. The two met with judges selected by the California commission and a judgment was made at the end of 12 rounds with Peter named the winner. To date no one has been accused of anything illegal or immoral in the process.

As such, Sam Peter met the standards set by the organization and should now move on to face Maskaev.

Of course some will laud this decision simply because they disagree with the decision in the ring.

James Toney has been the undeserving beneficiary of every decision with respect to his stay in the division.

He has gained a number one ranking despite never having beaten a legitimately rated top 10 heavyweight.

Losing what at first appeared to be a victory for another belt by being found to have used illegal, performance-enhancing drugs disgraced him.

He was extremely lucky to gain a draw with then-titlist Hasim Rahman. For some reason, despite the very controversial nature of that decision the WBC is in no mood to order a Rahman vs. Toney rematch.

Yet he continues to gain bouts that will lead to title shots.

In a final and laughable closing to the news release, the organization issued this plea:

“The WBC invites all parties to kindly restrain from using a hard language in their public statements, since boxing is a sport for gentlemen and we all would like to keep it that way.”

Disrespectfully, I decline the invitation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Boxing Brief: Heavyweights in Saturday action

By JE Grant

FORT SMITH, Ark. – J.D. Chapman, Mansfield, Ark., stopped trial-horse Ray Lunsford Saturday in two rounds. He moved his record to 25-0 (22 KOs). Chapman is trained by Jeff Mayweather.

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Jason Estrada, 7-0, 1NC (1KO), Providence, R.I., 251, decisioned Maurice Wheeler over eight rounds Saturday night. He is scheduled to take on fellow unbeaten Travis Walker in November.

HATTERSHEIM, GERMANY -- Once-beaten Oleg Platov, Ukraine, 225, stopped oft-beaten Tamas Borbely to run his record to 22-1 (19 KOs) Saturday night. Platov’s record is replete with opponents with losing records making it difficult to assess the 23 year-old fighter’s relative ability.

WETZLAR, GERMANY – Budding superstar and former Olympic gold medal winner Alexander Povetkin, 9-0 (7 KOs), Russia, 220, stopped shopworn, but experienced Ed Mahone in five rounds of a scheduled eight Saturday. Mahone once possessed a record of 21-0-1, but has now slipped to 23-8-2 (23 KOs) including four losses in a row.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Boxing Brief – Heavyweights in weekend action

By JE Grant

MANISTEE, Mich. – Former top rated Joe Mesi, 231, moved to 33-0 (26 KOs) against 36 year-old Jason Weiss who is now 3-2 in a four-round bout Friday night. Charitably it can be said that Mesi is clearly being brought along very, very slowly. In fact in some of these so-called comeback fights he has struggled considerably.

MONTREAL – Canadian Jean Francois Bergeron, 219 ¾, moved to 25-0 (18 KOs) with a fifth-round stoppage of Edgar Da Silva. The 33 year-old’s opponent represented a significant step up in competition.

PHILADELPHIA – Prospect Chazz Witherspoon, 232, raised his record to 14-0 (8 KOs) by stopping Innocent Otukuwu in two rounds Friday night. We can only imagine that Innocent’s nickname is “By-Stander” because has now lost his last six bouts, five by knockout. By the way Witherspoon weighed exactly what he did in his televised fight against Michael Alexander in July. He was very fleshy to say the least.

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. – Derric Rossy, 247, stopped Joe Stofle to remain undefeated at 13-0 (8 KOs). Rossy has recently moved into scheduled 10-rounders.

PHILADELPHIA – Youngster Joey Abell, 252, stopped David Kleage to jump to 8-0, 1NC (8 KOs).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Barrera masterful, decisions Juarez

By JE Grant

LAS VEGAS – Legendary Mexican champion Marco Antonio Barrera, 63-4, 1 NC (42 KOs), Mexico, 130, won a clear unanimous 12-round decision over rugged former Olympic medallist Rocky Juarez, 25-3 (18 KOs), Houston, 129, to retain his 130 title Saturday night.

Barrera was intent on working off a laser-like left jab and never allowing the 26 year-old Juarez to land combinations at any point.

Most rounds were merely repeats of each except for round four and five which Juarez captured by pressing Barrera and out-hustling the 32 year-old titlist.

Official scoring was 117-111; 115-113; and 115-113 all for Barrera. JEBoxing scored the fight 118-110 Barrera.


Joan Guzman, 26-0 (17 KOs), Dominican Republic, 129, won another version of the 130 pound title with a convincing but difficult 12-round split decision over Jorge Barrios, 46-3-1 (33 KOs), Argentina, 131 ½.

Barrios lost the title at the weigh-in when he came in over the 130-pound limit. The title was vacated at that point, but Guzman would be declared the new titlist with a win. Had Barrios won, the title would have remained vacant.

The gritty Barrios was able to win rounds only sporadically as he battled hard against the agile and multi-talented Guzman.

Guzman was clearly faster throughout and was able to effectively counter the wide-punching Barrios. There were no knockdowns.

Scoring of the bout was 114-113 Barrios; 114-113 Guzman; and 115-112 Guzman. Barrios had a point deducted in round six for a low blow. Had that point not been deducted the bout would have been a draw.

JEBoxing scored the bout 115-112 Guzman.


Israel Vazquez, 41-3 (30 KOs), Mexico, 122, successfully defended his 122-pound title with a 10th round stoppage of Jhonny Gonzalez, 33-5 (28 KOs), Mexico, 121.

Gonzalez was clearly ahead at the time of the stoppage. In rounds four and six he scored knockdowns of the titlist with sharp left hooks. Gonzalez continuously out-boxed his shorter foe, relying on a long left jab mixed with one-two combinations that kept Vazquez off balance.

The hard-hitting Vazquez landed a hard series of blows in round seven dropping Gonzalez hard. Gonzalez rose to survive the round.

Gonzalez resumed his boxing lesson in round eight and seemed to be once again in control of the bout.

Vazquez’ attack apparently took a toll on Gonzalez as the challenge began to fade in round nine – giving Vazquez only his second round of the fight.

Gonzalez again resumed control in round ten and seemed on his way to winning the round when Vazquez launched a vicious combination that again put Gonzalez on the deck.

Gonzalez took an eight-count and was willing to continue only to have his corner step in to signal the end of the bout. The stoppage was curious because, though hurt, Gonzalez appeared to have his faculties and was so far in the lead that only a knockout could give Vazquez the win.

At the end of nine rounds, JEBoxing had the bout scored 87-81 Gonzalez.

Time of the stoppage was 2:09 of round ten.


Highly touted prospect 18 year-old Jorge Paez Jr. 11-0 (7 KOs), Mexico, 141, was a very fortunate winner by majority four-round decision over Derrick Campos, 6-3 (5 KOs), Topeka, Kan., 139.

Campos hurt Paez in the opening round and won the round by repeatedly landing left hooks to the head.

In round two Paez knocked down the pressing Campos and used his experience to take control of the hard-punching but crude Campos. Paez continued to counter and sharpshoot Campos in round three to pull ahead.

Despite starting round four strong, Paez allowed Campos to close the distance giving him his only chance for victory.

In the closing seconds of the round, Campos slammed a left hook to the chin of Paez dropping him hard. Although Paez beat the count he looked barely able to continue and was relieved to hear the final bell only seconds later.

Scoring of the bout was 37-37, 38-36 Paez, and 38-36, Paez. JEBoxing scored the bout 37-37.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

WBO vaults heavyweight Ibragimov to number one

Recently held to a draw with Ray Austin, Sultan Ibragimov moves to the WBO's top spot while Austin falls in the ratings

By JE Grant

In the inexplicable world of the world sanctioning bodies, the World Boxing Organization, already seen by many as a fringe organization, has won the very unofficial monthly award for ridiculous rankings.

Sultan Ibragimov, a recent and extremely fortunate recipient of a draw with American Ray Austin, somehow moved past the previously ranked number one Luan Krasniqi.

On the organization’s website, the “explanations” link for August 2006 still has Krasniqi as number one because he “won a 10-round decision over David Bostic on April 29, 2006. TKO’ed by Lamon Brewster in the ninth round on Sept. 28, 2005. TKO’ed Lance Whitaker in the sixth round on May 28, 2005. Got a draw against Timo Hoffman on Dec. 4, 2004.”

Ibragimov is listed as number two in the "explanations" link following a “draw against Ray Austin on Jul. 28, 2006. TKO’ed Lance Whitaker in the seventh round on Dec. 15, 2005. Won by technical decision over Friday Ayanunya on Sept. 16, 2005.”

Yes it is true that none of the data above “explains” anything. While the rankings now have Ibragimov as number one and Krasniqi as number two there is no explanation for the change --- and there needs to be in light of the fact that nothing occurred for either fighter since the previous rankings.

In a bizarre twist, Ray Austin – you’ll remember him as the man who held Ibragimov to the draw – drops from number 14 to number 15 because the recently defeated Hasim Rahman was inserted into the rankings at number 10 after losing his WBC belt to Oleg Maskaev.

How does Ibragimov move up to number one and Austin move down to number 15 based on their draw in July? Send in your cards and letters to the WBO and ask.

Also changing places was number four Sam Peter and number five Ruslan Chagaev. Again there is no explanation listed.

The former numbers 10-14 were thus dropped one notch each.

Who was the number 15 last month? None other than James “Lights Out” Toney who falls completely out of the ratings following his controversial loss to Sam Peter.

It seems that each of the sanctioning bodies are in a race to come up with one obvious blunder after another. Besides the embarrassing lack of management of their website, is the embarrassment of the organization's rankings.

Why would Ibragimov, though obviously talented, move to number one based on a draw? If the draw was so impressive for Ibragimov in the eyes of the WBO, why did the organization allow Ray Austin -- the other half of that draw -- to fall in the rankings?

These are of course rhetorical questions that will never be answered.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Boxing Brief: Heavyweights in weekend action

Rising star Boytsov extends unbeaten streak

MAGDEBURG, GERMANY – Heavyweight Denis Boytsov stopped fellow prospect Ondrej Pala in five rounds Saturday to remain unbeaten.

The 20 year-old Boytsov, 16-0 (15 KOs), Russia, 215, led the 21 year-old Pala, 11-2 (8 KOs), Czech Republic, 237, on all cards according to Box Rec when the bout was stopped due to cuts.


Former titleholder McCall continues comeback

LOUISVILLE – Former heavyweight titlist Oliver McCall, 48-8, 2 NC (35 KOs), Valley Station, Ky. 249, stopped journeyman Darroll Wilson, 27-9-2 (21 KOs), Pleasantville, N.J., 220, in four rounds of a scheduled 10 Saturday.

McCall, 41, is now 20-1 (with 2 NCs) in his last 23 bouts. While Wilson, 40, is nowhere the top 10 of the heavyweights, McCall figures to use this bout as a springboard into a title match with new belt-holder Oleg Maskaev.

In 1996 McCall, known as the “Atomic Bull,” scored a one-round knockout over the "Big O" in Maskaev’s seventh bout.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Holyfield set to take on Oquendo

By JE Grant

The AP reports today that Evander Holyfield will face Fres Oquendo in November.

Though ranked by only one of the alphabet sanctioning bodies, Oquendo, 33, represents a major step up for Holyfield, 43, who faced hapless Jeremy Bates in August (KO 2). He is ranked number 16 in our latest Top 25 Heavyweights list.

It also may prove the last stop for the former champion. Oquendo, not known as a big puncher, is nonetheless a much fresher boxer who is quick-fisted and lands at a greater frequency than Holyfield can likely tolerate at this stage of his career (and life).

Holyfield has repeatedly stated that his intent for this latest comeback is to recapture a world title. Holyfield is 2-4-1, in his last seven bouts stretching back to the date of losing to John Ruiz in 2001.

Importantly, his early stoppage of Bates represented Holyfield’s first knockout victory in nine (yes nine) years.

In the Bates bout, as has always been the case for Holyfield, he appeared to be in top condition. Appearances are indeed deceiving. Despite a muscular build that many bodybuilders would envy, since losing his title to Ruiz, Holyfield has shown a propensity for being hit without his trademark ability to counter-punch in evidence.

He can likely pass any battery of medical tests and indeed is entitled to continue fighting as long as he does so, but it is clear to all but him that no world title will come his way again.

Oquendo will land with sharp punches early and often. While many of us expect to see an Oquendo stoppage victory, the only real question is when it will come. For Holyfield’s sake let’s hope it comes early.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Peter gains controversial nod over Toney, title shot awaits

By JE Grant

LOS ANGELES – Power-punching heavyweight Samuel Peter scored a highly controversial 12-round split decision over veteran James Toney in a title eliminator Saturday night for the right to face newly crowned titlist Oleg Maskaev.

Toney, 69-5-3, 1 NC (43 KOs), Los Angeles, 233, appeared to start fast using sharp jabs and counters in ring center against the strong 25 year-old Peter, 27-1 (22 KOs), Nigeria, 257.

After appearing to sweep the first two rounds, Toney, 38, felt the right hand of the “Nigerian Nightmare” in round three and reacted with characteristic disdain for his opponent’s power despite a noticeable wobble. Peter measured his attack landing body punches and forcing Toney back with jabs.

Most of the middle rounds belonged to Toney who seemed intent on keeping his younger foe off-balance with counter right hands and snapping up-and-down left hooks. While the punches did not seem to hurt or slow Peter, the number of clean blows mounted.

Despite a point deduction from Peter in round nine for double-punching, the big man came on strong at the end of rounds throughout the contest often stopping the boxing master Toney in his tracks.

The final two rounds proved difficult to score as both men desperately struggled for the win. Hard shots from Peter versus multiple, though less hurting, punches from Toney offered judges alternatives in scoring.

Scoring of the bout was 116-111 and 116-111 Peter; and 115-112 Toney. JEBoxing scored the bout 116-111 Toney.

Toney was incredulous following the bout.

“I made him miss a lot and I countered,” Toney protested. "The whole world saw I won the fight."

It was equally clear that the tough guy, never-give-an-inch competitor was not in any hurry to mend his relationship with the winner.

“He’ll have to kill me to get respect, ” said Toney.

Peter was clearly overcome by the moment and gave simple praise for the defeated multi-weight class champion.

“He’s a strong guy,” said Peter of Toney. Indeed Peter aknowledged that Toney took his big punches and kept fighting.

With the win, Peter gains a mandatory shot at Oleg Maskaev’s new title.

Boxing Brief: Woods decisions Johnson

Will the division unify the belts? Is Woods the leading man?

By JE Grant

With the settling of the score in the Clinton Woods - Glen Johnson trilogy, the light-heavyweights, were they so inclined, could clear up the considerable muddle in determining the real champion.

France’s WBA titlist Fabrice Tiozzo, a former cruiserweight belt-holder, last defended in February 2005 against Dariusz Michalczewski. Since that time he has fought only once, in a non-title fight, weighing a whopping 195.

The exciting and undefeated WBC belt-holder, Thomasz Adamek, is scheduled to defend his belt for the third time in a rematch with Paul Briggs. Their first meeting was widely lauded by those in attendance. Unfortunately it was a bout on the Lamon Brewster – Andrew Golota undercard and was not televised. If the rematch can live up to the original, Adamek may draw legions of fans not only in his native Poland but worldwide.

Hungarian Zsolt Erdei, the WBO titlist who some say is the true lineal champ (a dubious claim -- see my previous article discussing the division's lineage), is an exciting undefeated battler himself. He recently defended his belt for the sixth time with a decision over tough German Thomas Ulrich.

Woods clearly put himself ahead of the pack by surpassing the sturdy and accomplished Johnson. He may go on to clear the decks of the old order (Antonio Tarver and Roy Jones) or could surge ahead against fellow belt-holders.

Any combination of the four titlists above would prove interesting and would go a long way in clearing the way for an eventual unified champion to become a superstar. Moreover, unless the true champion Bernard Hopkins decides to return, the fighters need not leave the confines of Europe to achieve this feat.
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