In the next few weeks four of the top ten heavyweights in the world will be facing each other in high profile title bouts. This coming Saturday Alexander Povetkin 21-0 (15) will face Ruslan Chagaev 27-1-1 (17) for the vacant WBA title. On September 10th WBC heavyweight title holder Vitali Klitschko 42-2 (39) will defend his title against former cruiserweight title holder Tomasz Adamek 44-1 (28).
The talk in many boxing circles has been centered around Klitschko-Adamek much more than Povetkin-Chagaev. And I guess that's mainly because of Klitschko and the fact that he's considered to be the most formidable heavyweight in the world, with the possible exception of his younger brother Wladimir who holds two of the four major title belts in the division (IBF/WBO). However, on paper Adamek doesn't match up well with Vitali and when all is said and done; in order for him to win, Klitschko has to fight like a 40 year old fighter or his body has to betray him. Other than that Adamek needs to land a lottery punch.
Realistically looking at Klitschko-Adamek, it is Vitali who is the bigger stronger and more experienced fighter. On top of that he's a bigger puncher and based on Adamek's tenure fighting as a heavyweight, it doesn't appear that Adamek is much of a puncher. So how does Adamek beat a much physically bigger more experienced fighter in Klitschko who's been fighting on the big stage so much longer and appears to have all the confidence in the world? He won't. Most likely Klitschko will dominate every aspect of the fight. Therefore the only legitimate question is whether Klitschko wins a lopsided decision or increases his stellar knockout percentage and stops Adamek. So where's the drama or anticipation regarding Klitschko-Adamek? I know I can't get too excited about a fight that will resemble watching a movie that I've seen already many times over.
If you want to see a better heavyweight fight, at least on paper - it's gotta be Povetkin-Chagaev. Think about it, they're much closer in size and style than Klitschko and Adamek are. Neither Povetkin or Chagaev are big punchers, but both have shown that they're willing to push the fight versus fighters who they feel will comply with them or one who they can impose themselves against physically. In addition to that, neither Povetkin or Chagaev are close to being outstanding boxers. So most likely both are confident that they can beat the other via stepping back and countering or by forcing the action and tempo.
At some point early in the bout - either Povetkin or Chagaev is going to try and lead and hopefully make the opponent fight in the style that he doesn't want to. And once that transpires the onus will be on the fighter fighting out of his role to do everything he can in trying to turn the tide and seize the fight. But who will that be?
When breaking down Povetkin-Chagaev it's hard to give one of them much of an edge over the other. Povetkin has excelled against boxers and cuties like Chris Byrd and Eddie Chambers, whereas Chagaev has bettered stronger and more physical fighters like Nikolay Valuev and John Ruiz. So will Povetkin feel as though he can walk Chagaev down like he did Byrd and Ruiz, and try that against Ruslan? And what will Chagaev do if Povetkin tries that knowing he's already beaten two bigger and stronger fighters in Valuev and Ruiz?
Most likely Povetkin-Chagaev will come down to what a lot of fights do, who wants it more and is better prepared. And when you realize that the skill between them is very close and the fight will really boil down to who can force the other fighter to have to fight from their weakness, that has the makings for a much better bout than Klitschko-Adamek does.
Klitschko-Adamek: Everything favors one fighter, Klitschko, and you have to believe in the tooth fairy to convince yourself the other fighter, Adamek, will come out on top. On the other hand Povetkin and Chageev are pretty evenly matched and because of that it could be a very entertaining and competitive fight. Sure, it could be another stinker but Povetkin and Chagaev still have a lot to prove and will hopefully fight as such. Opposed to Klitschko, whose legacy is pretty much carved out and Adamek, who won't be ripped if he loses because nobody expects him to win.
If given the choice and I could only watch one of the two big heavyweight title bouts on the horizon, I'd much rather watch the movie in which I have no expectations (Povetkin-Chagaev) but could end up being terrific, opposed to the one (Klitschko-Adamek) I've already seen 15-times and know the ending.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com