By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Unbeaten Heavyweights To Collide
Chazz Witherspoon (23-0, 15 KOs) will meet Chris Areola (23-0, 21 KOs). Both fighters have been moved along slowly and featured on nationally televised programming throughout the country and appear to be ready for a step-up in class.
The road toward the heavyweight championship is a very narrow; especially for American heavyweight prospects Witherspoon and Arreola. The two will meet in a co-featured attraction on an HBO Boxing After Dark telecast on Saturday, from Fed Ex Forum in Memphis, TN.
Andre Berto (21-0, 18 KOs) will face Mike Rodriguez (29-2, 23 KOs) for the vacant WBC welterweight championship in the main event.
The world heavyweight championship landscape has changed so much through the years. Currently, there are no American heavyweight champions. The last American to have won a heavyweight title was Shannon Briggs and he lost it in his first and only title defense last summer.
“This match up provides something that is desperately needed in today’s heavyweight division…a top American challenger,” said Lou DiBella, who promotes Witherspoon under DiBella Entertainment.
“I know both Chazz and Arreola will put on a great fight for the Memphis fight fans. They both have knockout power and want to prove that the future of the heavyweight division is alive and well in their hands.”
Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine), who owns the unified IBF/WBO championships, is booked for the remainder of 2008. Klitschko has a WBO mandatory on July 12 in Germany against Tony Thompson (Washington, D.C.), followed by an IBF defense against unbeaten, but inexperienced Alexander Povetkin (Russia).
WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev (Uzbekistan) is headed toward an rematch with Nikolai Valuev (Russia) on July 5, two months after their first bout was postponed.
Samuel Peter (Nigeria), the WBC champion, must face WBC emeritus Vitali Klitschko (Ukraine), before facing WBC mandatory Vladimir Virchis or Juan Carlos Gomez (Cuba).
Unified WBC/WBA, and WBO cruiserweight champion David Haye (England) recently announced that he’ll be campaigning as a heavyweight and will make his heavyweight debut in November. Haye will be pushing for a fight with Wladimir should be remain champion going into 2009.
Throughout the history of the sport, the American heavyweights ruled boxing. Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield were simply dominant.
The American world heavyweight champion also symbolized the strength of American fighters throughout the world – Sugar Ray Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Archie Moore, Thomas Hearns, and Pernell Whitaker to name a few. When people thought about boxing, they automatically associated the sport with the identity of the world heavyweight champion.
In today’s modern era, when you think about professional American athletes basketball, baseball, football, and even hockey are at the forefront. As far as boxing is concerned, the American heavyweights have virtually fallen-off the map, with the exception of a few ranked contenders by the major sanctioning bodies.
Witherspoon, the nephew of former heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon, is a young face in the division. But the more the 26 year-old from Philadelphia, PA fights, the more noticeable his lack of punching power and inability to put guys away in exciting fashion.
Areola, 27, Riverside, CA, however, is the opposite. Areola has been stopping guys. Arreola is on a current 11-fight KO streak. Arreola has 10 first round knockouts, but the level of his opposition hasn’t been the greatest. Witherspoon and Areola could perhaps test one another in a manner which they haven’t been tested before in their respective careers.
Although both have fought frequently in recent years, no one truly knows how much grit and resiliency the other has because of their quality of opposition. Hopefully, by matching them up against one another the world will find out just how valuable a player could be in the heavyweight division’s future.
Berto To Fight For Vacant Mayweather Title
The highly doubted retirement of unbeaten WBC welterweight and five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has caused a stir throughout the boxing community; such a stir that the WBC will crown a new world champion in the 147-pound division.
Berto (21-0, 18 KOs), the No.1-ranked contender, hopes to fulfill that vacancy against WBC-appointed, No. 2 contenderRodriguez (29-2, 23 KOs). The fight will be the featured main event of an HBO Boxing After Dark telecast on Saturday, from the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis, TN.
Berto, 24, has been long touted as one of the best prospects in boxing. Berto has a good combination of power, speed, endurance, and can box. Berto can also take a punch well and is not afraid to exchange with anyone. Berto will be tested when he meets a hard-hitting, 29 year-old Mexican in Rodriguez.
The winner will be crowned a world champion in perhaps the hottest division in boxing led by Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Sugar Shane Mosley, Paul Williams, and of course a retiring Oscar De La Hoya.