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Boxing Perspective: The Future Of The Heavyweight Division

With the twelfth round knockout of 'Fast Eddie' Chambers by Wladimir Klitschko in Germany the heavyweight picture has become clearer in terms of who the remaining talent is, and who is left to fight whom. The question is, will these bouts happen in the future?

Vitali Klitschko's upcoming bout against the newly crowned European heavyweight champion, Poland's Albert Sosnowski, 31, 45-2-1 (27), is a convenient mismatch.

The best lineup of remaining prospects and possibilities

Given, Dr. Vitali Klitschko, 33, 39-2 (37) vs. brother Dr. Wladimir Klitschko, 38, 54-3 (38), is impossible. Vitali holds the WBC title, Wladimir WBO, IBF and IBO belts.

Challenge # 1 for either Klitschko: David Haye of Great Britain. Haye, 29, WBA champion, 23-1 (21), will demolish former WBA champ John Ruiz, age 38, 44-8-1 (31), in their upcoming bout on April 3 in Lancashire, United Kingdom. He is the one person universally believed able to beat both Klitschkos.

Challenge # 2 for either Klitschko: Nikolay Valuev of the Russian Federation. The seven foot tall Russian giant out of St. Petersburg is 50-2 (34). Valuev is actually quite a scientific boxer. He is worthy of a Haye rematch (lost decision in 12) or a match with Vitali or Wladimir, who would be unique to the German heavyweight circus.

Challenge #3 for either Klitschko: Alexander Povetkin of Russian Federation. The 6'2" Povetkin, Moscow's 19-0 hope, the 2004 super heavyweight Gold Medalist at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, has steamrolled over top flight opposition in Russia and Germany. He is in the gym but could use a few more bouts before a 'step up'.

Challenge # 4 for either Klitschko: winner of Tomasz Adamek vs Chris Arreola bout. Polish fighter Adamek, 40-1 (27), the former cruiserweight champion, is attempting to jump up through the heavyweight division too soon. He will get ripped apart and wrecked by Los Angeles fighter Arreola, 28-1 (25), who was stopped in ten by Vitali (rematch unlikely) but will qualify for a mandatory shot at Wladimir with this win.

Challenge # 5 for either Klitschko: winner of Evander Holyfield vs Francois Botha. On April 10, in Las Vegas, former champion Evander 'The Real Deal' Holyfield, age 47, 47-10-2 (27), will fight for the vacant WBF heavyweight title against Francois 'The White Buffalo' Botha of South Africa, age 41, 47-4-3 (28).

Holyfield has figured into the heavyweight mix with the NABF-USBC-WBC-WBA-IBF-WBO titles at one time or another. Botha, who's been involved with the NABA-WBC-IBF-WBO-IBO titles, is 3-0-1 in WBF title bouts, and briefly held the IBF in December 1995 after he decisioned Axel Schulz before getting stripped of it for testing positive for steroids.

As it stands, Holyfield vs Botha is probably the most legitimate fight the lesser known Australia's World Boxing Foundation has ever sanctioned. Then again, the IBF was little known until Larry Holmes assumed their heavyweight title in 1984. Botha lost to Wladimir in 2002 (a rematch is unlikely). Holyfield is the sentimental favorite here.

Challenge # 6 for the Klitschkos: Ruslan Chagaev vs. Kali Meehan WBA eliminator winner. Former WBA champion Chagaev lost to Wladimir in June 2009, so a rematch is unlikely. However, his WBA title was not at stake. If Hamburg's Chagaev, 25-1 (17), can defeat Fiji fighter Meehan, 35-3 (29,) and then beat David Haye, Vitali's got game.

Challenge # 7 for either Klitschko: winner of Tony Thompson vs Jason Estrada April 16. Washington D.C. fighter Thompson, 33-2 (21), lost to Wladimir in July 2008, so a rematch is unlikely. A bout with Vitali is possible, if he beats Rhode Island's Jason Estrada, 16-3 (4), in a ten rounder in Memphis on April 16. Estrada was flat-footed with little movement in decisions in 2009 to Povetkin (Lost 10) and Adamek (Lost 12).

Challenge # 8 for either Klitschko: British Commonwealth champion Sam Sexton. The United Kingdom's Sexton, is 13-1 (6), but his record is deceiving. Former WBU and IBF Intercontinental heavyweight champion Danny Williams, a winner over Mike Tyson, will attempt to regain the British and Commonwealth titles against Sexton in a bout at Upton Park in London on May 15. If Sexton beat Williams (who lost to Vitali in 2004), he will qualify for a shot at the European title, the Klitschkos to follow.

Challenge # 9 for either Klitschko: WBC International Champion Odlanier Solis Fonte. 'La Sombra' defected from the Cuban national team in December 2006 with Yuriokis Gamboa and Yan Barthalemy in Venezuela, escaping to Miami via Columbia, and signed a pro contract in Germany. Now 16-0 (12), within a year a Klitschko must face him.

Challenge # 10 (tie) for Klitschkos: Samuel 'The Nigerian Nightmare' Peter. Peter, 34-3 (27), out of Las Vegas, Nevada (who lost to Vitali in 2008), won an IBF eliminator March 12 with a second round TKO of Nagy Aguilera for a shot at Wladimir.

Challenge # 10 (tie) for Klitschkos: Maurice 'Mo Bettah' Harris, East Orange, New Jersey. Harris, age 34, 21-14-2 (10), has the most deceptive record in boxing. His career took a downward slide due to alleged mismanagement, reportedly being forced to take fights he hadn't trained for and allegedly under assumed names (he claims at gunpoint) and problems with the law.

Harris is now in the capable hands of a rising star, boxing promoter Dr. Mario Yacobi of Boxing 360 (who also recently signed Mike Mollo). Harris looked sharp in a recent win over Billy Zumbrun, and is slated to fight 7'1" Julius Long is Chicago on March 26.

Harris, whose record includes a six round KO of 16-0 Sergey Lyakhovich, a decision win over Jeremy Williams, and close decision losses to Larry Holmes and Chris Byrd, defeated Zumbrun at 254 pounds. To stand any chance of reentering the heavyweight picture with a string of big wins, he will have to drop his fight weight to 225-230 or less.

12 honorable mention opponents:

Denis Boytsov, 27-0 (22), Hamburg, Germany, KO'd Kevin Montiy in January.
Robert Helenius, 11-0 (7), Berlin, Germany, fights Gbenga Oloukun on March 26.
Ray Austin, 2-4-4 (18), Cleveland, Ohio, won WBC eliminator for a shot at Vitali.
Francesco Pianeta, 20-0-1 (12), Italian out of Germany, European champ needs work.
Alexander Ustinov, 20-0 (16), Minsk, Belarus, KO'd Ed Mahone on March 20.
Cedric Boswell, age 40, 31-1 (24), Atlanta, Georgia, great fighter never got a shot.
James Toney, age 40, 72-6-3 (44), Sherman Oaks, California.
Winner of David Tua, 50-3-1 (43), vs Friday Ahunaya, 24-5-3 (13), March 31.
Winner of Jean Marc Mormeck, 34-4 (22), vs Fres Oquendo, 32-5 (21), May 6.
Tony Grano, 17-1-1 (13), Connecticut, recently avenged only loss to Mark Brown.
Jonathon Banks, 24-1 (17), Michigan, only loss was to Adamek at cruiserweight.
Manuel Charr, 14-0 (7), Hamburg, Germany, TKO10 over Owen Beck in January.

Shannon Briggs, 48-5-1 (42), Brooklyn, ex-WBO champ returns from asthma issues on April 13. Kevin Johnson (L12 Vitali), Alexander Dimitrenko (L10 Chambers) and Oleg Platov did not make the cut due to inactivity. To regain consideration, they need to be active again.

12 rising 'Watch Out' unbeaten prospects, possible future champions:

Tor Hamer, 10-0 (8),New York City, fights Alexis Mejias on March 31.
Joe Hanks 11-0 (7), New Jersey.
Andrey Rudenko, 16-0 (9), Ukraine.
Kubrat Pulev, 7-0 (5), Bulgaria.
Gregory Tony, 12-0 (10), France.
Seth Mitchell, 15-0- ( 9), Maryland.
Grzegorz Kielsa, 11-0 (5), Canada (tie) Neven Pajkic, 11-0 (5), Canada.
Andrzej Wawrzyk, 17-0 (10), Poland (tie) Mariusz Wach, 21-0 (9), Poland.
Yakup Saglam, 24-0 (21), Germany (tie) Edward Gerber, 10-0 (7), Germany.

David Rodriguez, 32-0 (30), Texas, needs better quality opposition, missed the cut.

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