DUSSELDORF – Transplanted European big boys Alexander Dimitrenko and Luan Krasniqi are set to slug it out for German bragging rights this Saturday night at the Burg-Wachter Castello.
It could be a heavy hitter's delight.
The baby faced, undefeated 26-year old Dimitrenko, initially from Ukraine, and Krasniqi, 37, from Kosovo and who looks like a well traveled bouncer, are a study in contrast.
For the emerging Dimitrenko, 28-0 (18), it's a night to advance to another level in the currently thriving European heavyweight scene. For Krasniqi, it shapes up as what could be a last chance situation in regard to rewarding ring life among top contenders.
Both men understand that in terms of calculating cash and prospective bargaining clout, for fighters over 90.9 kg (200 pounds) this part of the globe is currently where the action is.
The fighters may hail from the same training stable and promotional group, but in cases like this familiarity brings focus instead of contempt.
I've been waiting to return to Burg-Wacher Castello after going to other fight halls to re-check my initial perceptions against time and other venues. I remember thinking the arena almost sparkled, and the large video replays were crystal clearer than most HD screens I've seen in sales showrooms.
Besides that, its the only place in Germany I've caught a main event, Susi Kentikian against Hager Shmoulefeld-Finer, that was actually a down to the wire slugfest. At this point, while admitting my limited (four months) observational experience, it's got my vote for premium German Fight of the Year.
Valuev-Ruiz was a close fight, but without the same consistent action, while in the other main events I've witnessed Vitali Klitschko, Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham enjoyed relatively assured victories soon after the opening bell. As Kentikian and Shmoulefeld-Finer rumbled into the final minute it was anybody's fight, and hotly debated long after the result was announced. On a sociological note, it was cool to see people at the isolated train station nearby yelling “Susi!” at two in the morning.
Saturday seems to hold the same potential, in the same ring, give or take 300 pounds or so.
6'7 Dimitrenko is reportedly a huge puncher, and local observers say his potential is more than hype. To me, the most remarkable thing about his record so far is that there are only half a dozen or so vowels to be found among his opponents' surnames.
It looks to me like the 6'3 1/2 Krasniqi's hands are the same size as the kid's he's facing, and the old guy's resume has better travelled foes, for what that's worth.
Krasniqi lost to Tony Thompson for the opportunity to face Wladimir Klitschko after beating respectable fringe journeymen Brian Minto and David Bostice. Krasniqi was TKO'd in nine by Lamon Brewster in 2005, but he stopped Lance Whitaker a few months before that, after drawing with strong Timo Hoffman prior to Whitaker.
I'm expecting to see Krasniqi make the younger man prove himself or rudely get Dimitrenko out of there with a large splat.
Another possible crowd pleaser pits another undefeated heavyweight prospect against another aging warhorse as Denis Boystov, 22-0 (18), collides with USA bruiser Vinny Maddalone, 31-4 (22), who should play well with the crowd.
Cold, early morning rain could be the only possible problem for a guy like me that's usually snoring by 11 pm. The televised portion of the broadcast doesn't even start until then to accomodate the dominant football audience. The trains run a lot fewer and farther between after 1300 hours.
That seems like a small price to pay if this installment of “Universum Champions Night” is as classy as before.
There's a chance this showdown could be a plodder, but as a fan I'm hoping for the type of two way conks that were anticipated between Klitschko and Peter.
Dimitrenko – Krasniqi won't gather the same notice as David Haye – Monte Barrett in Europe, but it could easily have the same long term implications in the rankings. At this point, Dimitrenko and Haye probably belong in the same bracket, pending Saturday results.
“Everything is good,” Dimitrenko told the local media. “I have the best trainer (Fritz Sdunek), and God is behind me.”
“I'm probably in the best shape of my career,” said Krasniqi.”I see it as Sdunek does, who has the better nerves will decide it. I am up for this fight as seldom before. A person learns more from losses than from victories.”
“I will win because I am psychologically at my best,” concluded the relatively untested Dimitrenko. “I can't go wrong.”
I've got a feeling we'll find out pretty early in the fight whether or not Dimitrenko's optimism is well founded. He's got to be a solid favorite simply on how good a run Sdunek's been on in these parts lately.
It shouldn't take much longer to determine than the first few Krasniqi hooks that either thump in, whiz by, or get blocked by massive shoulders.
The crash might be louder than many people expect.