IBF Orders Heavyweight Elimination Tournament

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 20, 2007

Gloves NEW YORK — The International Boxing Federation deserves credit for mandating that four of the top ranked heavyweights fight one another for the right to challenge world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko next year.

Former two-time heavyweight champion Chris Byrd, heavyweight title challenger Calvin Brock, and unbeaten heavys Alexander Povekin and Eddie Chambers will compete in a three-fight series to determine the No. 1-ranked IBF heavyweight contender.

“Right now the timing is perfect,” said IBF ratings Chairman Darryl Peoples. “Wladimir Klitschko defended his mandatory against Lamon Brewster. That gives him a whole year before he makes his annual mandatory defense of the title.”

Klitschko, who in 2005 was the IBF’s No. 1-ranked contender, defeated No. 2. contender Samuel Peter (W 12), before knocking out Chris Byrd (KO 7) for the IBF title in April 2006. Klitschko has since knocked off the IBF’s highest ranked contenders available: Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, and Lamon Brewster.

While fighters like Peter, Tony Thompson, Nikolai Valuev, and Evander Holyfield are preparing to fight for championships in other sanctioning bodies, the International Boxing Federation simply cannot elevate them to mandatory status.

Also, while the WBC, WBA, and WBO championship has changed hands in consecutive years, Klitschko has universally been accepted as the world heavyweight championship having retained his championship for 17 consecutive months.

The idea of having Byrd, Brock, Chambers, and fight each other for a title opportunity is a great idea. However, Should either Byrd or Brock emerge victorious, would it make sense of Klitschko to fight either fighter again? Klitschko is a combined 3-0, with 2 KOs against both fighters.

“That’s something that’s best answered by Wladimir,” Peoples said. “In my opinion, Klitschko will fight anyone you put in front of him.”

Overall, Peoples is receptive to the idea of having two veteran fighters in Byrd and Brock against young heavys Povekin and Chambers.

“You have two young guns against two established guys in the heavyweight division,” Peoples said. “You’re going to see new faces. This could be a shot in the arm the heavyweight division needs. The heavyweight division has no new blood.”

Peoples added: “In the words of IBF President Marian Muhammad, it’s a matter of who lost last and who lost best.”

Peoples believe that some individuals feel as though the sanctioning bodies are the most terrible thing on this earth. At least the IBF has taken more of an active initiative in mandating that certain fighters fight one another by legitimately earning a higher ranking rather than being given a ranking based on political relationships and corruptive interests.

“Some media outlets and some individuals think the sanctioning bodies and the heavyweight division are the most awful thing in the world,” Peoples said. “The only time you may see something positive is if Wladimir unifies the heavyweight title.”

Peoples also believes that its because of the IBF championship policies that has put fighters, such as, former lightweight champion Sugar Shane Mosley and current middleweight champion Arthur Abraham, in a position to be showcased legitimate worlds champions worthy of a title shot.

“When Arthur Abraham was highly ranked by the IBF people would say this is bogus,” Peoples said. “When Shane Mosley won the IBF lightweight title from Philip Holiday, no one on the East Coast knew who Mosley was.”

“Everyone on the West Coast did. After Mosley beat Holiday, he became a star. That goes back to their outstanding amateur careers. These guys were already at the cusp of stardom.”

“Part of the thing with professional athletes,” Peoples added, “They love medals and trophies. Before money got involved, they loved belts. Roy Jones Jr. liked his. Bernard Hopkins liked his.”

The IBF continues to provide fighters with opportunities to become recognizable champions. They’re flexing a little muscle by mandating four fighters that normally wouldn’t have fought one another because of promotional interests.

Chambers, Brock, Byrd, and Povekin should make for a series of good fights.