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Hvywt. Box-off Tournament: Smart Or Stupid?

BY Michael Woods ON September 11, 2007
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A boxoff to determine who is the worthiest challenger to a champion sounds, on surface, to be a worthy endeavor.

IBF titlist Wladimir Klitschko needs to fight somebody, as the rest of the division sorts itself out, so the IBF has come up with a plan, an elimination tournament, to deliver him a foe.

This is the IBF, a sanctioning body, so of course we could be forgiven if we were cynical about their ability to pull off the plan.

“A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past,” it was once said, “he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.”

But how could you not react with disappointment when you learn about this boxoff, and comprehend that Klitschko has already beaten two of the four participants in the showdown?

Great, IBF, why don’t we put you in charge of reconstruction in Iraq, or Britney Spears’ comeback?

Indeed, 40-3 Chris Byrd (who fights 13-0 Alexander Povetkin on Oct. 27) and 31-1 Calvin Brock (who fights Eddie Chambers on November 2) have both already been hammered by Klitschko. Byrd, the 37-year-old who hasn’t registered a KO since 2002, has been beaten twice (in 2000 (UD12) and 2006 (TKO7) by the younger brother.

I pored over my rolodex to find someone to comment on this fiasc…er, plan, someone who doesn’t suffer from crusty-soul syndrome, someone who wasn’t permanently altered when they discovered that mom and dad lied, and Santa was a paid endorser for Mattel. Steve Farhood came to my rescue.

“I think it’s a good concept,” said the Showtime analyst. “It’s good fighters fighting good fighters with a good reward. I know the alphabet organizations might not be totally pure, because there are sanctioning fees in every fight but…”

Hey, no fair, I’m trying to establish a counterpoint to my bleaker worldview, Mr. Happy!

“But fans like tournaments, and we haven’t had many in boxing.”

OK, my sunnily disposed friend, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, because he just farted. Does the fact that two of these guys have already lost to Klitschko wreck the concept?

“It only diminishes it if Byrd and Brock make the final,” Farhood said. “No one wants to see Brock or Byrd versus Klitschko. Have Brock and Byrd done enough to be included in the tournament, that’s arguable.”

Hey, Farhood, you’re creeping onto my turf. I’m the crusty one, the one with the stern stare and permanently raised eyebrow o’ mistrust.

Farhhod has done some scouting, and he likes Povetkin, a 28-year-old Russian, to emerge top tourney dog.

“I’d make Povetkin the favorite to win,” he said. “He’s not that big (6-2, 220 pounds), but he’s aggressive, he stays in the pocket, and is a decent boxer.”
 (See for yourself--------http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vdd5yWLYL1U)

Chambers, the 25-year-old Philly fighter, Farhood thinks, will meet Povetkin in the finale. “Chambers is an excellent boxer who’ll have to overcome his size deficit (6-1, 215 pounds),” he said.

Me, I see Fast Eddie schooling Povetkin, who is still green, and has movement issues in dealing with a mobile guy, and taking on Wlad.

In the meantime, I’m working on that eyebrow, trying to focus on progress over perfection. Hey, Farhood’s been doing this for 30 years, and if he can look on the bright side…

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