BASN Boxing News N’ Notes

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 21, 2008

GlovesNEW YORK — IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will move one step closer toward officially being recognized as the undisputed world heavyweight champion when he challenges unbeaten WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Klitschko-Ibragimov is an important heavyweight title fight. Should boxing ever have one world heavyweight champion, the casual sports fan will pay more attention to perhaps the most historical and prestigious weight class in boxing.

“This fight is important for boxing and the sport in all,” Klitschko said during a recent media conference call. “Boxing as a sport needs one heavyweight champion badly.”

Ownership of more than one or two heavyweight championships is a positive step toward improving boxing’s overall popularity amongst mainstream football, basketball, hockey, soccer, and tennis fans.

Klitschko-Ibragimov is the first heavyweight title unification bout since Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield fought twice to unify the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles in 1999.

When Lennox Lewis unified the world heavyweight championship, he did vacate the IBF title for refusing to fight Chris Byrd and relinquished the WBA crown for not fighting John Ruiz.

Lewis was clearly recognized as “the world heavyweight champ” until someone else beat him. In April 2001, Hasim Rahman would KO Lewis, but would lose the championship to Lewis in an immediate rematch seven months later.

Klitschko, should be beat Ibragimov, will assume the responsibility of fighting the IBF mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin and the WBO’s No.1-ranked Tony Thompson.

“I’m looking to consistently win the titles and beat up everybody in the ring,” Klitschko added.

Klitschko, the 6-foot-7, 245-pounder from Ukraine will be appearing in his fifth consecutive heavyweight title fight. Klitschko has KO’d his last four opponents and is considered a solid favorite to beat Ibraginov, but it won’t be easy.

“Ibragimov will be the best fighter that Wladimir has fought in his career,” said Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Steward. “[Ibragimov] knows how to fight big guys. He has good speed, good hand and eye coordination. He moves around the ring and changes direction. Ibragimov explodes and can be difficult to hit.”

Ibragimov, at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds looked impressive during a pair of solid 12-round decision victories against Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield last year.

Ibragimov is a solid boxer and his amateur credentials are just as popular as Wladimir’s. Both Klitschko and Ibragimov have fought in more than 200 amateur fights. Klitschko was an Olympic gold medal winner in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Ibragimov won a silver medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Klitschko-Ibragimov should be a highly contested boxing match. Many doubt Ibragimov’s ability to outfox the bigger puncher in Klitschko. Wladimir likes to control his fights by fighting tall and eating away his opponents with solid left jabs before dropping his right hand. Klitschko has skills and is a very strong puncher.

44 of Klitschko’s 49 professional victories have occurred by knockout (89.8% KO percentage). Each Klitschko’s three losses have occurred by KO. Unless Ibragimov throws caution into the air, Klitschko will win big.

Valuev Decisions Liakhovich, Earns Chagaev Rematch

Former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev moved one step closer toward a rematch with the man that took his belt Ruslan Chagaev.

Valuev (48-1, 34 KOs) became the No. 1-ranked WBA contender following a dominant 12-round unanimous decision against Sergui Liakhovich (23-3, 14 KOs) in a battle of former heavyweight champions on Saturday in Germany. Valuev shutout Liakhovich, as three judges scored the bout 120-108 (12-0) for the giant.

“We want the title back,” said Valuev’s co-promoter Don King. “We want to unify, but the number one guy is Ruslan Chagaev.”

Valuev was the largest heavyweight champion in history at 7′ 3,” 325 pounds and was on the verge of perhaps tying Rocky Marciano’s unblemished heavyweight record of 49-0. Valuev was 46-0 when he lost his title to Chagaev in defense #4. The shorter 6-foot-1 Russian southpaw boxer fought circles around Valuev before attacking him with solid left hands through 12 rounds.

Since the loss to Chagaev, Valuev has fought just twice (2-0). Although slow, Valuev looked terrific against a 250-pound Liakhovich. Valuev jabbed effectively and kept Liakhovich outside of his lengthy reach. Valuev’s left jabs appeared punishing, as his right hand follow ups did hurt Liakhovich. Valuev even threw more uppercuts, making even more difficult for Liakhovich to exchange with the bigger man.

“With that left jab and right hand he’s throwing is fabulous,” King added. “This is the new Nikolai Valuev.”

Liakhovich won the WBO title by beating Lamon Brewster, but was KO’d at 2:59 seconds of the final round of his first title defense of a bout he was winning against Shannon Briggs in 2006.

Joe Louis documentary to be televised on HBO

Prior to the Klitschko-Ibragimov live telecast beginning at 9 pm ET, HBO Sports will debut “Joe Louis: America’s Hero… Betrayed” at 8 pm ET

The late Joe Louis (1914-1981), aside from the legendary Muhammad Ali, is the greatest heavyweight in boxing history. Louis holds the record for most consecutive title defenses (25), the longest uninterrupted heavyweight title reign (11 years, 10 months), the most world heavyweight championship fights fought (27), and most knockouts in championship fights (23).

Louis 69-3, 55 KOs) was a solid 6-foot-2, 190 to 200-pound man. As the world heavyweight champion, Louis was the face of American sports and athleticism during the time of World War I and the Great Depression. The documentary will discuss his early life, boxing career including his two historic fights against Max Schmeling, and his commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces.

Don’t miss Black History at its finest. Watch and embrace Joe Louis Barrow.

Delvin Rodriguez beats up an unbeaten 40 year-old

Welterweight prospect Delvin Rodriguez headlined an ESPN Friday Night Fights telecast underneath the Mohegan Sun Arena downstairs from their casino in Uncasville, CT. Rodriguez (22-2-1, 13 KOs) won a 10-round unanimous decision against previously unbeaten 40 year-old, Troy Browning (20-1, 8 KOs).

All three judges scored the bout 100-90 (twice) and 99-91 for Rodriguez.

“It was a nice fight,” Rodriguez said in his dressing room after the fight. “I loved it. I got very good work. I went 10 rounds and got good work with a guy with a lot of experience.”

From the opening round, Rodriguez wobbled Browning with his faster hands and better boxing skills. Rodriguez is 13 years younger than Browning and the age difference was apparent. Browning, who has only fought less than a handful of guys with decent a record, does have an upset win against Julio Garcia last year. But he wasn’t in Rodriguez’ league.

Rodriguez and his manager Stan Hoffman are eying a possible title shot between the end of 2008 and early 2009.

“It’s always tough to say whether you’re ready for the next step,” Rodriguez said about the possibility of one day challenging Antonio Margarito, Kermit Cintron, Andre Berto, and newly crowned WBO welterweight champion, Carlos Quintana.

“I’d like to fight Margarito,” Rodriguez added. “I feel that I’m ready. By the end of the year that’s what I’m hoping for.”

Jermain Taylor loses rematch with Kelly Pavlik

Former unbeaten world middleweight champion Jermain Taylor (27-2-1, 17 KOs) dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to unbeaten middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (33-0, 29 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden on Saturday.

Pavlik-Taylor 2 was an immediate rematch enforced by the former champion. In their initial September 2007 fight, Taylor ahead on all three official ringside judges’ scorecards, lost the world middleweight titles on a seventh round knockout.

Taylor, 29, Little Rock, Ark., had Pavlik badly hurt in the second round, couldn’t finish him. Taylor promised that if he had Pavlik hurt again, he would finish him. Neither WBC nor WBO 160-pound title was at stake, as both fighters agreed that the rematch would take place at 166. Both Pavlik and Taylor came in at 164.

Although Taylor’s punches were sharper, he couldn’t keep pace with the harder-punching 25 year-old from Youngstown, Ohio. All three judges scored the bout 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113 for Pavlik.