It’s perhaps one of the quietest heavyweight world title fights ever staged when Lamon Brewster defends his WBO title against Sergei Liakhovich on Saturday. But that’s the way he does things.
Almost in a hush, the humble but skull cracking Brewster meets little-known Belarussian Liakhovich (22-1, 14 KOs) at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland. The match promoted by Don King Productions will be televised on Showtime.
Not since Evander Holyfield held the distinction as the best heavyweight on the planet has a heavyweight reigned over the division with such humility.
In Brewster’s case, you definitely can’t associate quietness for weakness.
Ask Andrew Golota if the quiet Brewster (33-2, 29 KOs) lacked the necessities to make a good heavyweight champion. It took the L.A.-based prizefighter 52 seconds to figure out how to beat the perennial challenger out of Poland who had fought to a draw with Chris Byrd and lost a close decision to John Ruiz when he held a world title.
Or ask Vladimir Klitschko whose title was wrenched from his grasp with a stunning reversal of fortune after the huge Ukrainian fighter had bounced monstrous punches off Brewster’s head. In the fifth, Brewster took his turn at bat and Klitschko folded.
Brewster continues to roll against heavyweight challengers much like his nickname “Relentless.”
Liakhovich, like so many of the fighters out of the former Soviet Union area, is unknown but not without talent. He shares two foes with Brewster in Everett Martin and Joe Lenhart. The Belarussian knocked out Lenhart in nine while Brewster needed three. Martin went the distance with Liakhovich but couldn’t survive four rounds with Brewster.
Those numeric comparisons don’t necessarily add up to a victory for the heavier punching titleholder.
“Brewster is a real, real good champion. He has fought all of his fights with the power that he has, but if he fights the same fight like he fought before, it will not be enough to fight me,” said Liakhovich, 29, by telephone. “A lot of boxing is capitalizing when your opponent makes mistakes.”
Heavyweights continue to befuddle the boxing public. They pack so much potential for explosive entertainment with their massiveness and strength but often fall much short of expectations.
Only once since winning the title has Brewster failed to provide the explosions. Against Kali Meehan, a New Zealand heavyweight who had sparred with Brewster months earlier, their match leaned more toward a sparring session than a battle for the heavyweight title of the world.
Brewster acknowledged that his friendship with Meehan did affect his demeanor.
In his next match, Brewster blew out Golota in that fighter’s adopted hometown of Chicago and followed that with a trip across the Atlantic where he beat Luan Krasniqi with a ninth round knockout in Germany.
Only now are people beginning to accept Brewster as a true heavyweight champion.
“Whoever you think can beat me, just put them in front of me and ring the bell,” Brewster said during a telephone press conference. “I talk with my fists. That is the best answer I can give you or anybody in the world.”
With last week’s match between James Toney and Hasim Rahman ending in a draw, the spotlight has turned to Brewster’s WBO defense against Liakhovich.
“I would think it would end in my favor,” said Brewster of the new attention to his title defense. “I just hope that people will look at those fights and then compare them to my fights and make up their mind about whether they still underestimate or doubt me.”
Now trained by Buddy McGirt, who successfully guided Arturo Gatti to several million-dollar victories, Brewster feels he’s added an extra weapon.
“I needed a technician in my corner,” Brewster said.
McGirt shakes his head at Brewster’s ability.
“He doesn’t know how good he is,” McGirt said. “You haven’t seen the best of Lamon Brewster.”
Top 10 Heavyweights in the World
1. James Toney (69-4-3) – He’d be wearing the WBC world title belt today if he had lost another 15 pounds. At 235 pounds he was too heavy in his last fight against Hasim Rahman and tired midway through the fight and still got a draw. A Toney at 220 would be world champion. Weight is his greatest enemy. It’s hard to imagine anyone beating a svelte Lights Out. His next fight will tell the story as soon as he steps on the scale.
2. Lamon Brewster (33-2) – The hard-hitting heavyweight has a WBO world title defense this Saturday. Most people know he has one of the hardest chins in the business. He also can belt. But he takes too many punches. Maybe getting Buddy McGirt in his corner will help. He fights this Saturday against Sergei Lyakhovich and after that, start lining up all the other champions.
3. Vladimir Klitschko (45-3) – Despite having a brittle chin Vladdie has become a more rounded fighter under trainer Emanuel Steward. He has the tools to beat any heavyweight in the world. Most people question his heart. He is meeting Chris Byrd in a rematch on April 22 in Germany. He beat him before so unless Klitschko breaks an arm or leg he’s going to win if he’s still breathing.
4. Chris Byrd (39-2-1) – Few heavyweights are as skillful as Byrd except for Toney. But Byrd lacks firepower in a weight division that demands it. He hasn’t knocked out an opponent in years. Don’t expect it to happen when he fights Klitschko in Germany. He’ll have to knock him out to win over there. It’s not going to happen. The Las Vegas-based Byrd has never gotten the big break. He’s come close but contractual constraints always kept him from receiving the big fight.
5. Samuel Peter (25-1) – He’s raw and as green as they come. But his punching power and will are strong. Now if he would only run a little to build up his stamina he might be champion today. He ran out of gas against Klitschko last year and came within a whisker of beating him. Even though his skills are limited, that beast inside of him makes him a big load for anyone.
6. Hasim Rahman (41-5-2) – The Rock has power, the Rock has experience, so why can’t he win another world title in the ring? He looked better than usual against Toney a few weeks back, but still only got a draw. That might be good enough against other fighters. We’ll see.
7. John Ruiz (41-6-1) – He lost his WBA title to the big Russian giant. Nobody cared. He has one of the worst styles in boxing with his hit and clutch method. But he’s still one of the better heavyweights. It won’t be a surprise if he wins another world title. Heavyweights beware.
8. Nikolay Valuev (43-0) – The big Russian giant maybe undefeated but he won’t fight out of Europe. Few have seen the seven-footer fight live. John Ruiz lost his title to him by decision but feels he was robbed. The only way to know is to see him face any of the top heavyweights outside of Europe.
9. Calvin Brock (28-0) – The banker turned boxer has big punching power. He’s improved more than any other fighter in the division but is that enough? He has a big match coming up this June in Las Vegas. One thing he has in abundance is heart. A lot of heart. That goes a long ways in the fight game.
10. Vassily Jirov (35-3-1) – The former cruiserweight champion has the skills, the stamina and the know-how to beat any heavyweight. He’s just a little too small to make a mistake. He was beating Michael Moorer handily until he made a mistake and then was counted out. He can’t make those slips against the big boys.
Local fight cards
Friday at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, Armando Dorantes (5-0) tries to maintain his undefeated record in a lightweight bout against Jorge Perez (6-2). Also, Adrian Aleman (2-1-1) meets Hesperia’s Jerry Pavich (1-1) in a junior bantamweight bout. For tickets or information call (323) 781-4871. The first bout begins at 7:30 p.m.
Friday at the Maywood Activity Center, Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson (20-1, 15 KOs) meets Darnell Boone (10-4, 4 Kos) in a welterweight match. Also, Oxnard’s Victor Ortiz (12-1, 8 KOs) meets Colton’s Freddie Barrera (10-0, 1 KO). For tickets or information call (323) 562-5020.
Friday at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Timothy Ray Bradley (11-0, 6 KOs) meets Eli Addison (8-0, 3 KOs) in a battle of undefeated junior welterweights. Also, Dominic Salcido (7-0, 4 KOs) meets the improving Odi Rivera (5-7-2) in a junior lightweight bout. Undefeated Cleotis Pendarvis (4-0) meets Ricardo Galindo in a welterweight bout. For tickets or information call (714) 935-0900.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Montell Griffin (47-6) vs. Norman Jones (28-14-3)
Fri. Telefutura, 9 p.m., Steve Luevano (29-1) vs. Adan Hernandez (14-4)
Fri. Showtime, 8 p.m. or 11 p.m., Freddie Barrera (10-0) vs. Victor Ortiz (12-1)
Sat. Showtime, 8 p.m. or 11 p.m., Lamon Brewster (33-2) vs. Sergei Liakhovich (22-1)