Led by their own heavyweight inside, the University of Connecticut wrapped up it's second NCAA hoops title riding on the broad shoulders of Emeka Okafor. By besting Georgia Tech on Monday night in San Antonio, Texas, the Huskies are the undisputed champs.
But it's much more muddled in the heavyweight division in boxing. When Lennox Lewis decided to hang'em up a few months back, it opened up the floodgates to a cast of characters scrambling around to call themselves a heavyweight 'champion'. While the various titles will be fought and filled after a flurry of heavyweight title fights, we still wont have a true heavyweight champion.
But we will come a bit closer to filling out our heavyweight brackets.
APRIL 10TH- Lamon Brewster vs. Wladimir Klitschko: Now, this here is for the vacant WBO, which somehow always seems to end up in the hands of one of the Klitschko's because of their promoter Peter Kohl, who seems to wield a lot of influence on the Puerto Rican based sanctioning body.
Brewster, by definition of the Muhammad Ali Act, shouldn't even be fighting for any title since it's been more than a year since he's fought. But this being boxing, the show will go on. In fact, it was only a couple of fights ago that Klitschko himself was getting sent to the canvas repeatedly against Corrie Sanders last March in losing this title. He was on the canvas so often against the southpaw South African, you almost thought he was one of the fights sponsors.
Sanders, would eventually vacate the title and is facing Wlad's brother later this month for the WBC crown.
Klitschko is a huge favorite, about 10-to-1, but then, so was Sanders last year. Brewster has heavy hands and Klitschko's chin can now be called suspect. Klitschko, if he were a car would be terrible if he were a automobile going down the wrong way in a one way zone, why? Because he has no reverse gear. If Brewster can back up the big Ukrainian early, I think he's a live, live dog.
APRIL 17TH- Chris Byrd vs. Andrew Golota( IBF) and Fres Oquendo vs. John Ruiz( WBA): The best thing I can say about these two fights being held on the same night on Don King's card in Madison Square Garden is that at least they're taking place on the same night. It would be a shame to spread these fights over several weekends. For boxing fans, it will be like getting both your flu and tetanus shots on the same visit to the doctor.
Poor Chris Byrd, you think that winning a title would have finally given him the leverage to make some of the marquee names in the division have the gumption to fight him. Instead, he's remains as appealing as the IRS does every April 15th. It's bad enough that King hasn't paid Byrd his contracted minimum since winning the title( around $2.5 million) but then he sticks him with freak shows like Golota- who shouldn't come anywhere near a title shot or the Madison Square Garden for that matter- to sell a few seats and squeeze out some more pay-per-view buys.
The media has been highly critical of the undeserving Golota getting a shot at the title, and rightfully so, but what's unfortunate is that Byrd has been ostracized for accepting the fight. This guy can't win for losing. Hey, there's no doubt that Golota deserves a title shot as much as Saddam Hussein deserves a Noble Peace Prize, but the bottom line is, Byrd still has a right to earn a living and put food on the table.
But here's an interesting and altogether realistic scenario, what if Byrd manages to frustrate Golota like so many of his past opponents. I mean, there is a chance, that perhaps, feeling frustrated and angry, that Golota starts to hit Byrd a bit below the border. And then, who knows, anger and chaos mix and some civil unrest occurs and then….
Nah, that could never happen. Not with Andrew Golota and the Madison Square Garden involved.
In the other heavyweight title fight on that bill, a pair of Puerto Ricans duke it out for the WBA title, when John Ruiz faces Fres Oquendo.
Now, how's this for an eye-opening statistic: Ruiz is now a two-time WBA heavyweight champion. Yup, due to the maneuverings and machinations of King, Ruiz, after getting spanked by Roy Jones last year, was able to regain his crown after downing Hasim Rahman last December. Talk all you want about expansion diluting the pitching in major league baseball, tell me that boxing and it's proliferation of titles hasn't watered down this game. Now, that's not to say that every single titlist in the current game is undeserving, to the contrary, but the reality is that it's most pronounced in the heavyweight division because there are not enough solid fighters to go around to keep these belts warms.
Think about it, in any other division, is Ruiz a multiple time champion? I think not.
Stylistically, this is about as bad a match-up as you can make. They say that styles make fights. Well, these styles may set back heavyweight boxing back a hundred years. Both Ruiz and Oquendo are awkward fighters who are prone to being involved in ugly fights. Some guys like Ali and Frazier went together like peanut butter and jelly. Ruiz and Oquendo go together like the cold and flu.
And it's boxing fans who may become ill in watching this one. I don't know who the winner is in this one, but I do know who the losers will be.
The fans that have to sit through it.
APRIL 24- Vitali Klitschko vs. Corrie Sanders: Now, many are calling this bout at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, 'the' heavyweight championship fight. Which might be true to a certain degree. With a win, either Sanders or Klitschko can make a strong claim to being the worlds number one big man.
But let's get this clear, it does not make them the heir apparent to Lewis just yet. Remember, Lewis retired before he was beat again, so neither man can claim the all-important( well, at least in the heavyweight division) linear crown and neither Sanders or Klitschko have cleaned out the division like Lewis did in the previous decade.
Whoever wins this bout, to gain recognition as the one and only heavyweight champion, must go out and defeat at least some of the names mentioned above. Unless of course both Klitschko's win, then all bets are off, since both brothers have vehemently stated that they will never fight each other. Which is completely understandable. And if Sanders should pull off another upset, he'll become the champion of the Klitschko's, but not the world.
This is an interesting battle, Sanders again is dangerous early with his left-handed power which befuddled Wladimir. But you get the sense that if Klitschko can acclimate himself to that style and take the fight into the later rounds that he will surge to a victory. It's all about getting out of the early rounds, something that his brother couldn't do.
So there you have it, a plethora of heavyweight title fights. Unfortunately, even after all this, we still wont have one true heavyweight champion.