Heavyweight Division Picks Up Steam

By Francis Walker
Updated: April 25, 2005

John Ruiz & James Toney

Andrew Golota & Riddick Bowe

NEW YORK — The action in the heavyweight division is growing once again. Riddick Bowe is back. Wladimir Klitschko continued his winning ways. Andrew Golota will receive his third consecutive heavyweight title shot, and the on-again/off-again heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko vs. Hasim Rahman has been postponed once again.

Also, John Ruiz will make his third consecutive WBA heavyweight title defense at Madison Square Garden when he meets No. 1-ranked, James Toney this Saturday, April 30.

Ruiz, a two-time WBA heavyweight champion, has fought Evander Holyfield (three-times) Rahman and Golota. However, history was made when Ruiz lost his heavyweight title Roy Jones, Jr. two years ago when Jones became the first former middleweight champion in more than 100 years to beat a heavyweight champion. Toney, a former middleweight champion, could be the second.

Although Toney, who once lost his IBF middleweight title to Jones – years ago, Toney did something that Ruiz could not do in three fights, 36 rounds against Holyfield. Toney is one of two fighters to have ever knocked out Holyfield (Oct. 2003). But that was over 1½ years ago and Toney has fought only once since.

Toney, as inactive as he has been, is a former three division champion at 160, 168, and 190 pounds. Toney seeks his fourth title in his fourth weight-class and is a 2-1 favorite over Ruiz.

The winner of Ruiz-Toney could possibly be involved in a Don King-promoted world heavyweight championship unification tournament.

Three weeks following Ruiz-Toney, unrecognized WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster defends his title against Andrew Golota at the United Center in Chicago. Brewster is from Chicago, Illinois. Golota has lived in Chicago for the past 15 years.

The fight should pack a good crowd, especially since both boxers are two of the hottest heavyweight commodities today. In April 2004, Brewster absorbed a tremendous beating during his fight with Wladimir Klitschko.

Brewster came from behind to KO Klitschko in round 5 and stunned the boxing world. Brewster eliminated Klitschko from the heavyweight title ranks as a top contender and elevated himself into the heavyweight title picture.

Even though Brewster holds the World Boxing Organization title, it is not as recognized or accepted as the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, or International Boxing Federation title belts. It’s a matter of boxing politics and alphabet soup.

Golota was signed by King last year. In his first fight under Don King Productions, Golota fought IBF heavyweight champion to a disputed draw last April. In his second world title fight last November, Golota lost an unpopular 12-round unanimous decision against Ruiz for the WBA title. Ruiz was docked two points and knocked down twice in the fight, but still emerged victorious?

Brewster has not lost a fight in more than 4½ years and has never been KO’d. Golota, however, is a better boxer than Brewster. Golota will win a 12-round decision against Brewster. Golota, as WBO champion, will make the heavyweight division more interesting to watch and toughen the road toward championship unification for the other champions.

Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko

Vitali Klitschko has held the WBC heavyweight title for one year and has only defended his title once in the last four months. Klitschko was originally scheduled to meet WBC No. 1-ranked, former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman on April 30.

Klitschko injured his leg in training and recently suffered another setback as we underwent back surgery. Klitschko’s already twice postponed title fight against Rahman was supposed to occur in July, but Klitschko may not be ready to fight until September.

Klitschko eventually will be at risk of being stripped of the WBC title, as there is talk of Rahman facing Monte Barrett for the WBC “interim” heavyweight title. If Klitschko is unable to fight the “interim” heavyweight champion, Klitschko would have vacated his championship and either Rahman or Barrett would already fulfilled the vacancy.

Meanwhile, Wladimir Klitschko, the younger brother of the WBC heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko, boxed, jabbed, and overpowered his way to a fourth-round KO victory against Elisco Castillio on April 23, in Dortmund, Germany.

Wladimir was once recognized as the future heir to the heavyweight thone of Lennox Lewis before he suffered two KO losses to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster.

Wladimir Klitschko is barely in the heavyweight top 10 and needs a string of impressive victories against well-known fighters to reestablish his claim as one of the top heavyweight-title hopefuls in boxing.

Some fighters are never quite the same following after a knockout defeat: Michael Grant was not the same towering force once he was KO’d by Lennox Lewis in 2000. Grant, once billed as the future of the heavyweight division, suffered career-damaging knockout losses to Jameel McCline and Dominick Guinn.

Roy Jones, Jr. was KO’d by Glen Johnson five months after Antonio Tarver knocked Jones out with a punch to his chin.

Klitschko was dropped four times in two rounds after tasted true heavyweight power-punch by Sanders.

Wladimir, a tremendous power-puncher, simply cannot take the punishment he can dish out. Wladimir simply does not have what it takes to dominate the heavyweight division.