By Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
I’m sure at times over the last few years you’ve heard (if not from your own mouth) folk lament upon the banality of the Heavyweight scene. Of course there is some credence to that notion too. When all 4 world titles (and the IBO if you’re feeling saucy) are held exclusively in the hands of two brothers, then the hopes of an exciting world title fight slowly seeps out away from you. Moreover, as much as fan as I am of the Klitschko brothers, I can certainly understand why people found their style very dull to endure. Vitali – to his credit – was more of a wrecking machine than the cautious Wlad but still fights were one-sided and failed to inspire.
January 2016 and all of a sudden we have 3 world champions, all of whom have shown vulnerabilities in their rise to the top. Fury dominated Wlad in an ugly fight but wasn’t perfect himself – just slightly less awful than Wlad. Even so, he beat ‘the man’ and should be recognised as the division’s number 1. Deontay Wilder’s best win remains the somewhat uninspiring Stiverne; his defences since have been against lacklustre opposition and he hasn’t exactly looked leagues above them. Crucially however, he has at least made title fights exciting to watch again because he doesn’t look like’s he is ever capable of coasting through a fight. Charles Martin is an odd one. Really he is still quite untested but none the less he remains a champion for now. Against the opposition he’s fought, he hasn’t exactly looked a world beater but he may well grow into that role with the nourishment of time.
The fact none of them look like they’ll dominate for a decade has reignited interest in the division. That’s not to say the quality has all of a sudden become mercurial because it hasn’t, but things are certainly much more appealing. This is mostly assuming Fury beats Wlad again in the rematch (what a spanner in the works that could be if he doesn’t) of course. Suddenly, the rankings look alive with match-ups that excite. The problem with having a division with one clear number 1 is that contenders don’t want to fight each other for the fear of losing to someone similarly ranked and ultimately losing their potential shot for a number of years.
Luis Ortiz is a fun fighter who has sprung up with a great win against Jennings, both Parker and Joshua look set to make enthralling careers and we even have the return of David Haye. I’m less enthused about the latter than most pundits seem to be but he is worth noting here. I do fear our expectations of Haye’s impact are being a little overstated. He doesn’t really hold any ‘good’ wins in this division. In fact, when he did step up against Wlad he was quite comfortably dealt with in the same way the viewers were bored into submissions by that jab flicking across the screen like a game of squash. All the same, he is intriguing to watch and is very adept at selling a fight. For the record, I take no issue with him fighting De Mori after a few years out but I do take issue with that calibre of fight being held in The 02 with expensive tickets. More fool those paying I suppose. Povetkin will also be looking to make a statement on the division too. He looks like he has really improved since getting battered by Wlad but does remain quite a small fighter in a world where size matters.
Looking forward into 2016, I think it’s safe to say Heavyweight boxing will be making a more strident impact onto our screens. Potentially there are some fantastic clashes and there will be upsets too – which is my favourite thing in boxing. Another thought, how many current Heavyweight champions will still be holding onto their belts come 2017? Will Povetkin have dethroned WIlder? Will Wlad claim his collection back from Fury? Will Charles Martin prove to be a top tier fighter? I look forward to finding out.by