The heavyweight division is, thankfully, becoming more and more competitive with a number of up-and-coming boxers vying for a piece of Wladimir Klitschko’s crown and also the vacant WBC belt. Padraig Martin takes us through the contenders.
Kubrat Pulev is undoubtedly the most deserving challenger to the heavyweight crown. On paper the Bulgarian has the tools required to beat the ruler of the division. He has a dangerous mix of size and skill, and could test Wladimir Klitschko’s notoriously vulnerable chin. If the former Olympian does not fight Klitschko this year it will do a huge disservice to boxing.
Sticking with the topic of deserving contenders, Bermaine Stiverne must surely be a part of the decider for the vacant WBC strap. He became the number one contender for that belt when he earned an impressive victory over slugger Chris Arreola in April of last year. Whilst many have suggested that Arreola would fare better in a rematch – Stiverne has to be included in any discussion about the future of the division. He might well be the next WBC champion.
Deontay Wilder has generated more hype than any American heavyweight in years. At 30 – 0 with an Olympic bronze medal in his back pocket, none of his opponents have made it out of the fourth round. However, he has been moved along at a snail’s pace. Until Wilder faces solid opposition who can test his chin the jury will still be out.
Next on the list is Mike Perez. The Cuban has generated a lot of interest. Like Pulev, he has the potential to upset Klitschko – though he will need to improve on his most recent performance in order to navigate his way toward the elite of the division. In that outing he was held to a draw by Carlos Takam in a fight some felt he was lucky to escape from without suffering defeat. While Perez’s flat performance can be explained by the fact that he was less than two months removed from a fight with Magomed Abdusalamov, which left the latter in a coma. Perez wore Abdusalamov’s name on his shorts and donated some of his purse from the Takam fight to Abdusalamov’s family. Even so, Takam fought a clever fight and if Perez is to be included in the discussion then the man who held him to a draw has also to be. The fact that he is based in France could also increase his chances of fighting Klitschko who has a history of facing European opponents.
In a year’s time we could well be asking ourselves who will be the man to dethrone Klitschko in 2015? The Ukrainian has been a fine champion and the smart money would be on him retaining his title for the foreseeable future. The list of contenders might not exactly be a stellar line-up, but at the very least the fact that there is a belt up for grabs and some young, hungry heavyweights on the scene breathes life into the division and offers the potential for some intriguing fights.
Pundit Arena, Padraig Martin.
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