The Heavyweight Picture: What Can Be Seen Below The Maddening Crowd

By Tom Donelson
Updated: August 23, 2006

NEW YORK — There is sadness in Boxingville as no American boxer holds any of the Heavyweight crowns. With Oleg Maskaev demolition of Hassim Rahman, the Heavyweight division is left with only one true American legitimate contender in Calvin Brock.

While there are some hopeful below Calvin Brock such as Tony Thompson or Ray Austin, there is little to suggest that these heavyweights have the stuff to seriously challenge the Eastern bloc, in particular Serguei Lyakhovich and Wladimir Klitschko.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a mad dash to find the “Great White Hope” to defeat the great Jack Johnson. Now in one of the great irony of history, there is now an push by American promoters to find the next great “American Heavyweight Hope” to challenge the solid white Russian bloc that now dominate the Heavyweight division, any ethnicity can apply.

Every where there is a cry, “Where is the next great American Heavyweight?” Sounds like a plot for the next Contender reality series.

Over the past month, several young contenders for the honor of being that next great American Heavyweight have toiled away from the eyes of the general public.

Last month, the Midwest giant Tye Fields beat up on Maurice Harris in Vegas. Fields, who spent most of his formative year fighting on the Midwest circuit, has fought his last four fights under the glaring Las Vegas lights.

And while much of his opposition has been weak, his defeat of Maurice Harris represented a step up. The present WBO champion Serguei Lyakhavich only lost was to Harris, so it can be said that Fields beat the man who conquered the present WBO champ.

On the same night that Evander Holyfield was beating up an insurance salesman in Dallas; undefeated prospect Damian Wills pounded out a unanimous decision over Cisse Salif in unusually tight quarters.

Wills, normally a boxer, stayed on the inside against the stronger Salif, and used his hand speed to outfight Salif. Salif, whose present job includes being James Toney’s sparring partner, came into this fight with the more impressive resume that included a tough loss against David Tua.

Wills’ ability to challenge Salif on Salif own turf showed Wills flexibility when it came to changing game plans within the course of a fight. Instead of using his leg and mobility, Wills stayed within the wheelhouse of Salif’s punches and consistently out punched Salif.

He took Salif’s best and kept returning fire in rapid succession. As Teddy Atlas observed, Wills made his choice to fight back hard and not quit throwing punches. Salif chose to be more passive and allow the less experience Wills to dominate on the inside.

Beyond these fighters there are other prospects including Eddie Chambers, David Rodriquez, Leo Nolan and Chazz Witherspoon. Witherspoon major asset is his last name as his relations to former heavyweight champion Witherspoon has propelled him to prospect list but his last victory over Michael Alexander on a SHOBOX special left more questions than answers.

Leo Nolan is an undefeated Detroit fighter but most of his fights have been in the Midwest and with only 10 knock outs in 26 bouts, his power has to be questioned. His most notable victory was over a past his prime Lou Salvarese a couple of years ago and his upcoming fight with Jed Phipps is for the vacant USBO Heavyweight championship.

Texas native David Rodriquez is another undefeated prospect with 22 knockouts in 23 fights but his opposition is strictly soft ice cream with tomato cans and the barely breathing. His power is as much of a product of his promoters scheduling than real talent.

Another undefeated boxer is Kevin Johnson, whose only blemish is a draw against Timor Ibragimov in his fourth fight. Ibragimov recently lost a decision to Calvin Brock, so Johnson draw is at least impressive considering that it was early in his career.

In his young career, he has victories over trial horses Robert Wiggins, Robert Hawkins and most recently Daniel Bispo and with 10 victories in hands, his resume is more impressive that David Rodriquez.

Finally, there is Eddie Chambers. On the same card that saw Paul Williams put the final nail in Sharmba Mitchell’s career; Chambers beat up on Domonic Jenkins. Chambers stopped Jenkins in five rounds. Chambers own victories over veterans Ross Puritty, Robert Hawkins and Ed Mahone.

As for Evander Holyfield, his victory had more to do with the quality of opposition than his skills. Bates came in the fight with two straight losses and a full time job selling insurance.

So it would have been hard not to looked good and there was nothing in this fight to suggest that Holyfield was ready for top ten opposition.

The heavyweight division is trapped in a quagmire as champions refuse to fight each other but underneath the surface, American challengers await their opportunity to bring glory to their career and country.