German Scene: Punching Pyrotechnics, Deutschland Style
FORMULA ONE RACING ALONG THE RHEIN - The month of "Juni" saw major boxing performances in Germany that continued to produce global sport repercussions. Boxing business these days is very good, whatever the other economic climate.
The fighter who had the best night was Wladimir Klitschko, who pounded Ruslan Chagaev in a spectacle of rare proportions.
Now a race continues, around and around, to see who gets the next big payday on the Klitschko round one roadshow. David Haye is still looking like a top candidate, but his stock took a beating of the sort many more now predict would have occurred had he met Klitschko instead of pulling out.
There was widespread negative speculation around ringside in Klitschkoville and well beyond that Haye simply refused to risk a zero payday as his unsweetened sugar daddy Setanta broadcasting company went belly up. So much speculation it began to be taken as fact, and Haye's bargaining power could rapidly and significantly decrease, let's say 30% down.
Or, the spectacular results in Gelsinkirsen could have convinced the auditors at K2 promotions and RTL TV to put on another, similar extravaganza in the fall.
Reportedly, Haye is the frontrunner for a German fight against Vitali now, in September. Count me grin.
It would be a surprise around here if either Haye or Cristobal Arreola isn't deemed for duty within a week or three, but then again, the Klitschkos haven't stuck to anyone's idea of business form beside their own. Alexander Povetkin or the winner of this weekend's great, crossroads at the top of the hill bout between Alexander Dimitrenko and Eddie Chambers could find themselves in some German mini-metropolis before the winter holiday season.
Chambers recently took on a progressive trio of Povetkin, Samuel Peter, and Dimitrenko. If he exposes Dimitrenko, Chambers deserves his pick of the KO bros next more than Haye or Arreola, but I'll be surprised if Dimitrenko doesn't control Saturday's encounter.
The heavyweight landscape isn't primarily a wasteland anymore.
It was clear prior to Arreola and Dan Goossen hosting the media to Italian food tuesday that all they'd say would be "Klitschko." Arreola can demand what he wants, but he's really just another guy in a long line. Still, he's right about being a great draw for Klitschko in Southern Cal, though Klitschko may be more sensitive than he'd admit about getting booed in Spanish in his adopted back yard as opposed to being everybody's hero here. And just for the record, I like LA Italian cuisine better than the stuff I recently chowed in Milan or Torino.
Denis Boytsov, now 25-0 (19), against very decent opposition lately, took another solid step toward top ten contention with his tagging erosion of Taras Bidenko last month. The powerful, still improving Boytsov can afford to be patient, but he doesn't have to.
Another hyped, undefeated big boy prospect making a name for himself here is gigantic Alexander Ustinov from Belarus, now 15-0, who topped trialhorse Michael Sprott on the Klitschko-Chagaev undercard. I don't think Ustinov would last any distance over eight frames against Boytsov without falling very hard.
There's a law of gravity among today's heavyweight contenders.
One reason, two choices, capital K.
It would be a fine lesson in many boxing related arts to sit at the table when team Klitschko decides which brother takes on which opponent.
Understanding the USA is a much bigger market, and eternally grateful I usually lived within reasonable driving distance from Las Vegas, I still think it would stimulate boxing's fan base if there were more major fights in alternative US locations besides Vegas, New York, or the larger Native American casinos.
It's a good time to be a fan here, as the Klitschkos are well into their second year of alternating title fights at cool, often quite distinct regions throughout Germany. The Klitschko's traveling conk circus, complete with Annie Oakley anything goes artistic consciousness, has played very well at four wide ranging venues since last August. It's a big world.
The man who's next on the star power charts backing up the Klitschkos around here, Arthur Abraham, also fought last month and his stoppage of ready Mehir Oral improved Abraham's undefeated slate to 30-0 (24) that may not be as strong as it looks. Almost everyone I've discussed the matter with says Abraham beats Felix Sturm should they ever meet, in a fight that looks more and more like it will happen too late, if at all.
I think Sturm can pull off the upset. Abraham has had difficulty in each of his most recent fights for as long as they lasted. Consider how good Sturm looked against Sebastian Sylvester, who looked excellent on Abraham's undercard last week. A case could be made that Abraham had a much harder time than Sylvester did with Philly based Lujan Simon, while Sylvester was over his head against the still slick Sturm last November.
To me, Abraham against Sturm is a better stadium fight than Klitschko against Haye or Arreola.
Sturm and Dimitrenko made publicity rounds amidst other fine tuned machines for a Formula 1 themed upcoming weekend on which Sturm will meet Khoren Gevor, 30-3 (16), between races on the 11th.
Status wise it's the Euro equivalent of the NBA putting Bernard Hopkins on at half court.
Anyone who saw the press conference in Monaco for the "Formula 1 Meets Boxing" co-promotion knows Sturm is still a marketable force, Pavlik or not. Still, ever since joining a major Calvin Klein campaign, Sturm has been portrayed on fight posters as more of a model than a fighter. It will be interesting to see if the different angle has any effect.
The race is also on between Abraham and Sturm for a crack at Kelly Pavlik. News outlets here cluck consistently conflicting reports projecting who's up for the big trip to the US mauling market. My admittedly faulty handicapping system has either as a favorite against Pavlik unless the home field counts for more than usual.
One fighter based in these parts with Universum, Marcos Maidana, had his big night on American shores with a thrilling stoppage of Victor Ortiz. Maidana fulfilled the promise he showed on recent undercards along the Rhein, and represented Universum with class.
Could it be that per capita, Germany currently offers the best training and sparring on the gloved up globe? This place is a magnet for the top fighters on the continent.
Recent months have made it clear Germany is Europe's capitol for the top of the bops. The trend won't fade unless the UK bolts into a much higher gear. Vegas still rules with the biggest global attractions, but with no live boxing on any of the regular US broadcasters while Dimitrenko collides with Chambers on a free, non-subscription channel this weekend and with Sturm fighting inside Formula 1 TV tracks the next, there's times these parts do have the best available boxing shows on the planet.
The schedule for the second half of '09 could even get better, especially if the Klitschkos decide on having another stadium spectacular.
With championship contests featuring Susi Kentikian against Carolina Gaite, 15 -1, a titlist who's moving down a weight division for the Susi sweepstakes and Alesia Graf versus Terri Lynn Cruz, Germany continues to present the pinnacle of women's boxing. Something tells me an inspired Gaite, whose father just passed away, could put Kentikian's undefeated record in dire jeopardy, heavy hook style.
I'm not sold on multi-alphabet ranked middleweight Sebastian Zbik, 26-0 (10), who meets another unproven prospect, Domenico Spada, in an elimination bout. Team Pavlik probably won't even watch the tape, but Sturm could be studying for another highly winnable local showdown against a respectable foe.
WBO kingpin Sergi Dzindziruk probably doesn't have much of a chance against Paul Williams, but it says a lot about the spirit of this region that he's the one chasing the often avoided Williams.
I wasn't thrilled about having an ocean between myself and the Vegas fight scene, but the thriving leather thrown landscape made the wonderfully centralized Dusseldorf area a nice home away from home.
I'll miss a USA 4th of July for the first time in my life this Saturday, but will hopefully rock it with extended homeboys Steely Dan, Dave Mathews and Chickenfoot in Montreux. I'll be the one with the Mandalay Bay boxing hat, standard issue with "The Sweet Science" on the back, blurting tasteful US affirmations in the Alps. Non-obtrusively of course.
Even with homesick thoughts in mind, I want to applaud my cyber-countrymen at TSS. One of the things that makes this such a great site are the reader responses. I've had to do a lot of web research lately and have seen various forums from many fronts. This community is consistently classy and considerate, while many sports or other entertainment boards are often a stat for humanity's lowest common denominator. That's never an issue here, though I do hope our censor has minimal headaches.
So to relatives, amigos, and fellow citizens: happy Fourth and may all United States of mankind become even more blessed.
I wish every boxer a surprising, private happy holiday of their own.
And whatever divinity or chaos rules our existence, in fistic boundaries or beyond, may it provide prosperity and sparkling skies to our Sweet Science family.