This is the second monthly edition of the Grant Top 25 Heavyweights. Most of the comments on the last ratings were generally favorable, but among the trends expressed in response to what I wrote was the belief that I’ve rated Wladimir Klitschko too high, I’ve not given Europeans enough credit, and Hasim Rahman doesn’t deserve a number two rating.
I reminded those who emailed me about the Europeans not being given enough credit that the Klitschko brothers are indeed European. In fact 9 Europeans are in this month’s top 25. Also of interest, 13 of the 25 are non-American. It is possible that a fundamental power shift is underway.
For those who think Wladimir Klitschko is undeserving, I suggest a relook at his record – the whole record. He’s beaten many who are positioning for title shots today.
Changes include perhaps the final exit of Mike Tyson in any ratings anywhere. He was at number 14 last month – a rating that was rightfully criticized by many emailers.
Audley Harrison moves past Jameel McCline on the strength of a recent win. Fighters previously rated below Mike Tyson moved up one, except Vassily Jirov and Kali Meehan who remained at 24 and 25 respectively.
Shannon Briggs, on the strength of a recent string of wins, entered this month at 23.
Some will ask why Kevin McBride isn’t in the top 25 and my response to all is to watch the Tyson fight tape. He did nothing that hints of some kind of hidden talent that came out against Tyson. I think he was clearly behind in the fight and never exhibited skills that will enable him to fight with real contenders. He did withstand a few of Tyson’s hard punches – and some dirty stuff – but it was just not that impressive.
Finally, wunderkind Samuel Peter climbs ahead of John Ruiz. Okay, kick me for pushing him ahead of a guy who has actually beaten a few top ten fighters. I’m placing a bet with this one. My bet is that he is the future of the division. Man, this guy is a hitter.
1. Vitali Klitschko, Ukraine – WBC Champion
Klitschko has made overtures to Lamon Brewster and, of late, Oleg Maskaev, as possible opponents in September. Of course the WBC decided that winner of Hasim Rahman – Monte Barrett in August would be the mandatory challenger. No one can be sure what kind of game the elder Klitschko is playing.
2. Hasim Rahman, USA
He meets Monte Barrett for the “interim” WBC title, but more importantly for chance to cash-in by facing Vitali Klitschko. That “interim” title may become permanent if Klitschko decides to buck the WBC and face Oleg Maskaev, as is being whispered in the boxing community. In either case, his matchup with Barrett in August figures to be the most important non-title (or should we call an “interim” title a “semi-title”) heavyweight fight of the summer.
3. Chris Byrd, USA — IBF Champion
Was scheduled to face Serguei Lyakhovich in July but apparently that’s out. Pending litigation by Wladimir Klitschko may force a rematch. If not, the IBF wants him to fight DaVarryl Williamson because he is now rated higher than Klitschko and is the organization’s highest ranking available contender. You see, despite the fact that Klitschko recently beat Williamson, he was pushed down in the ratings below Williamson. Don’t look for it to make any sense. The IBF’s argument defending the rating is comical at best and cynical at worst. Despite Byrd’s higher ranking here, he would enter the ring against Klitschko a decided underdog. Klitschko thoroughly dominated the last time the two met. No real reason to believe it would end differently the second go-round.
4. Lamon Brewster, USA — WBO Champion
The WBO mandates that he face little-known former European champion Luan Krasniqi. Krasniqi recently scored a KO victory of fringe contender Lance “Mount” Whitaker (or was that “Goofi”?) that suddenly made him, at least in the eyes of the WBO ratings committee, the number one heavyweight in the world. Go figure. It is likely that Brewster will face Krasniqi, if only as a tune-up for real title matches later.
5. Wladimir Klitschko, Ukraine
He’s now waging a court battle to be installed as the mandatory challenger for Chris Byrd’s IBF belt. A win in court would pave the way for what is probably his best chance for regaining a title. Otherwise, it could be a considerable wait. Despite his recent vulnerability, there isn’t a long line of contenders who want to meet young Wladimir.
6. James Toney, USA
“Lights Out” is currently serving 90 day suspension for steroid use. It is unlikely that the drugs made the difference in his big win over defending titlist John Ruiz (later declared a no contest). In any case, at this stage of his career he will likely go where the money leads him and that is to the title belts owned by Chris Byrd, Vitali Klitschko or Lamon Brewster. He can’t fight for the WBA title for two years – which is effectively a life sentence. No matter, the WBA title doesn’t mean very much right now anyway.
7. Monte Barrett, USA
Still scheduled to meet Hasim Rahman in August in a WBC “interim” title. He recently wrote a letter to the WBC expressing his dismay that Vitali Klitschko may not meet the winner of the interim title match. He should instead focus on the very real problem in front of him in the form of Hasim Rahman. If he can get past that obstacle, he needn’t worry, because he’ll get his just due.
8. Calvin Brock, USA
Stopped Kenny Craven in 4 rounds June 25th on the Gatti-Mayweather undercard, in a match that can only be described as a stay-busy fight. Craven, for those who haven’t closely followed his career, recently split a pair with Butterbean and was stopped by him six years ago. You get the picture. Brock simply must get in with the big names soon and often.
9. Samuel Peter, Nigeria
I’m going to continue taking a beating on this one. Peter’s victory over Taurus Sykes was over an opponent who offered no offense. There are many questions remaining about young Samuel, but his power and confidence just may get him through at least one of the alphabet champions very soon. I don’t see a young Mike Tyson emerging – I see the possibility – just a possibility – of a young George Foreman. That is a far higher compliment in my book.
10. John Ruiz, USA — WBA Champion
Word is circulating that his next possible opponent could be the latest Mike Tyson conqueror, Kevin McBride, in defense of the title he was given without a fight. What a terrible match to have affixed the title “world championship.” I guess we’ll watch, but it’s a loss for the viewing audience.
11. Audley Harrison, England – Stopped Robert Davis (KO 7) on 9 June
12. Jameel McCline, USA
13. Danny Williams, England – Stayed busy by belting out Zoltan Petranyi (KO3) on the Tszyu-Hatton undercard. Scheduled to contest Matt Skelton in July for the British title
14. Corrie Sanders, South Africa
15. Nicolay Valuev, Russia
16. Oleg Maskaev, Uzbekistan – Stopped Livin Castillo (KO 3), and he’s suddenly, and inexplicably, being talked about for a title shot againt Vitali Klitschko. He appears much slower than in years past – certainly he’s done nothing to indicate he’s worthy of a championship match
17. DaVarryl Williamson, USA
18. David Tua, New Zealand
19. Fres Oquendo, USA (Puerto Rico)
20. Serguei Lyakhovich, Belarus – Scheduled to face Owen Beck in August
21. Dominick Guinn, USA
22. Luan Krasniqi, Germany (via Kosovo)
23. Shannon Briggs, USA – Defeated Abraham Okine (KO3) – Last month unrated
24. Vassily Jirov, Kazakhstan
25. Kali Meehan, Australia