Top 25 Heavyweights (As of June, 2006)
Veterans Danny Williams, DaVarryl Williamson, and Shannon Briggs scored wins in May in stay-busy fights.
The alphabet sanctioning bodies continue spew out rulings that are growing more bizarre with each edict. The IBF has been leading the way of late in the apparent sweepstakes for nuttiest rulings. On the organization’s website, they have no one listed in the number 1 position. Funny how that works. They can rank fighters in every other position but just can’t seem to figure out a number 1 contender. (Add to that the zany position taken recently by the organization allowing Zab Judah to hold onto its version of the welterweight title after losing a title fight and from 2005 the decision to allow DaVarryl Williamson to leapfrog over Wladimir Klitschko in their ratings despite losing to him. What is boiling in their collective brain buckets)?
Of late, we’ve been hearing rumblings that perhaps the newly crowned IBF beltholder Klitschko wants to tangle with James Toney and presto, we see “Lights Out” in their top ten. For all its cleverness, the IBF’s sub-organization, the USBA (ostensibly rating US-based fighters), does not list James Toney anywhere in its top 15 as posted on May 25, 2006.
The WBC of course has ruled that the winner of the upcoming Hasim Rahman – Oleg Maskaev bout must fight James Toney.
The WBA is sanctioning the Nicolay Valuev-Owen Beck “title” bout despite the fact that Beck has never beaten a top fighter. In fact in two brushes with top ten fighters he has lost resoundingly.
Obviously no sanctioning body has cornered the market on goofiness.
We’ll see where it all leads soon enough.
2. Hasim Rahman, USA – WBC Champion (Last Month #2) Everything appears set for his rematch against Oleg Maskaev. As boxing fans will remember, the first time the two met (in 1999), Rahman ended up in the front row at ringside. A boxing lifetime has been had by both since that meeting. Rahman has twice worn a title belt and Maskaev has declined in output sharply. At the age of 37, this is Maskaev’s last big shot. Who knows if his has the power.
3. Serguei Liakhovich, Belarus – WBO Champion (Last month #3) Liakhovich goes from dominating wins over Dominck Guinn and Lamon Brewster to pondering a defense against Kevin McBride. Really? What in the world would be the draw? McBride has done nothing to indicate he rates a shot at the NABO title much less a so-called “world” belt. Liakhovich’s promoter, Don King, has been hollering about unification --- why not do it right now with the two belts he controls (the second being Nicolay Valuev’s WBA strap)? Will HBO or Showtime support showing a Liakhovich-McBride match? Serguei, why go this direction when mountains of money await against Klitschko, Rahman, or even Valuev?
4. Lamon Brewster, USA (Last month #4) He suffered a detached retina against Liakhovich. No one can be sure how the injury will affect his career but it is a major obstacle. Let’s hope for the best because Brewster is still the most exciting heavyweight in the game today.
5. Chris Byrd, USA (Last month #5) Currently thinking about his future in the game. If Chris listened to me – fat chance – I would tell to go right now for the world cruiserweight championship against O’Neil Bell. There’s no doubt he could make the weight and goodness knows that Bell needs to face a real name to make money in the division. We might also see why Chris Byrd has truly been special in light of the fact that he has always given away height and weight.
6. Calvin Brock, USA (Last month #6) Timor Ibragimov is the only thing standing in the way of a title showdown with one of the belt mongers – possibly Wladimir Klitschko. Beating Ibragimov will be no small feat despite that you’ll see Timor listed far down this page. Ibragimov hasn’t checked all the boxes for success yet and is looking to make his mark by jumping up in competition dramatically. Look for an action fight in June.
7. Samuel Peter, Nigeria (Last month #7) The “Nigerian Nightmare” starched the 7-footer Julius Long proving very little. Still, he needs only to stay active to be assured at some kind of title shot. It’s not clear that he learned as much as he should have against Klitschko. The next time we’ll find out is when he meets someone who isn’t petrified by his mere presence.
9. Danny Williams, England (Last month #9) As a tuneup for his upcoming rematch with Matt Skelton he stopped Adnan Serin in Northern Ireland in May. He appears serious about the upcoming bout and seems to realize that a win will likely mean an opportunity for a belt. He’s come a long way since losing to Vitali Klitschko.
10. Nicolay Valuev, Russia – WBA Champion (Last month #10) Owen Beck is the first in what will likely be a long list of sacrificial offerings for the Russian. The fact that this match is being made provides ample evidence of two things: 1. Valuev’s German and American promoters suspect that he can’t really match up against the likes of Klitschko, Rahman, and Liakhovich; and 2. They really think boxing fans are idiots. Beck is a decent journeyman but in each instance that he’s brushed up against top fighters he has failed miserably. This is no real title fight.
12. Sultan Ibragimov, Russia (Last month #12) He may have to suffer through a title eliminator against Ruiz. Assuming he doesn’t get hugged to sleep, he may emerge as a serious contender for a belt.
13. Oleg Maskaev, Uzbekistan (Last month #13) The Big “O” is prepping for his giant chance for glory in his upcoming rematch with Hasim Rahman. A win means the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A loss means goodbye to the big time.
14. Shannon Briggs, USA (Last month #14) Against Chris Koval, whom he stopped in three rounds, he was a career high 273. Why the unnecessary risk? Hopefully a stronger opponent the next time out will motivate him to really be ready for anything.
15. Ruslan Chagaev, Uzbekistan (Last month #15) The so-called “White Tyson” is set to return to the ring in July. A couple of serious wins and the talented and undefeated lefty will be in the thick of hunt.
16. Ray Austin, USA (Last month #16) The knuckleheaded IBF has him rated number 2, and has no one listed as number 1. Does that make sense to anyone? Doesn’t that mean Austin is the top rated heavyweight in their cockeyed rankings?
18. DaVarryl Williamson, USA (Last month #20) Williamson stopped the previously undefeated Mike Mollo in May. He needed this kind of fight to get back in the mix. Of course, having recently signed with Don King, you can bet he’ll get another shot at some kind of title.
20. Matt Skelton, England (Last month #21) At age 39 he desperately want to avenge his loss to fellow Briton Danny Williams. He’ll get his chance in July. A loss means going to the back of the line in Britain much less the world scene.
21. Luan Krasniqi, Germany (Last month #23) A win over David Bostice in April was hardly an auspicious attempt at reclaiming a real top rating. Nonetheless it might get him another big chance at the WBO belt. He has suddenly jumped to that organization’s number 1 spot. Remember Lamon Brewster, the man who blasted him and made him quit? He’s now ranked number 8. What a joke by the WBO.
22. Jameel McCline, USA (Last month #24) “Big Time” knows that now is the only time he has to make or break his career. He’s been in action three times this year and almost undoubtedly is going to remain busy on the club circuit. If he keeps winning, he’ll get another big payday this year.
23. Audley Harrison, England (Last month #25) He’s added Buddy McGirt to his corner. Nice start, but naturally it’s a matter of getting his fists moving that will ultimately make the difference. Time is your enemy Audley.
24. Monte Barrett, USA (Last month #18) His fight with Hasim Rahman is looking more and more like ancient history. He hasn’t won a fight since February 2005.
25. Joe Mesi, USA (Last month unranked) – Even though he is now 30-0, he’s still in the rebuilding stage of a career that stalled due to his head injury. He’ll return to action in July. He makes the top 25 based primarily on the totality of his record, not just his recent win over 40-something Ron Bellamy.
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:
Jason Estrada, USA – In just his seventh pro fight, the former Olympian scored a 10-round decision over Robert Wiggins in May. A fairly impressive win coming so early in his career. We’ll watch with interest.
Chazz Witherspoon, USA – He scored a shutout decision win in May against a fighter with losing record. At 24, he’s still developing and at 12-0, needs many more fights before challenging for contender status.
Alexander Dimitrenko, Ukraine –He’s scheduled to return to action in July. We’re still waiting on the name of the opponent and at this stage of his development names become important. He’s 21-0 but the only name on his slate that many will recognize is Vaughn Bean.
Alexander Povetkin, Russia – The former Olympic Gold medallist will be back in action in June, against Livin Castillo. He’s only 7-0, but his backers are moving him quickly.
Timor Ibragimov, Uzbekistan – Calvin Brock may already be looking past their June match to a possible date with Wladimir Klitschko. Timor could not only upset that applecart, he could find himself supplanting Brock against Klitschko with a win.
Gonzalo Omar Basile, Argentina – Two wins in May show that he is busy. One of the bouts included his first venture out of Argentina --- all the way to that hotbed of heavyweight action, Uruguay. Come on big fella, spread your wings and make a swing through Las Vegas.
Tye Fields, USA – There’s nothing scheduled for the big guy since his March stoppage of Ed Mahone. Currently, only one of the alphabets has him ranked anywhere.
Kevin McBride, Ireland – A shot at Serguei Liakhovich? Puhleeeeese make it stop. It’s hurting my brain to even think about it. Look, he seems like a likable enough fellow and he stands up well in the club scene. He just isn’t title material.