by Christopher Mooney
Wladimir Klitschko is a pound-for-pound top 10 boxer.
Or, if you’re a fan of Jeopardy, “sentences about boxing rankings, that you thought you’d never utter in your own lifetime?”
The big Russian sneaked into the fabled list this weekend – which probably says more for the lack of bankable superstar fighters in the sport at the minute (lots of potential, not many breakthroughs) than anything spectacular he’s actually done in the ring. This is a list, after all, which still includes Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez in its top 5, even though both have taken a royal schooling within the last year.
The workings of Ring’s pound-for-pound ratings list are shrouded in secrecy, and are borderline impossible to apply any logic to. I think they just paint the numbers 1-10 on a group of out of work dwarfs (probably waiting for Willow 2 to go into production), put them on a football field, and them make them race to the end-zone.
“Wow, Sleepy has really been working out this month”.
Four of Wlad’s last five opponents have the names Tony Thompson, Hasim Rahman, Eddie Chambers, and Samuel Peter, and none of those guys are even in the top 10 of the division. Although to be fair to the man, he was in line to face Povetkin (rated 4th) before the rookie Russian got the jitters.
I probably put this down to other people losing, and a decent unbeaten run by the big guy, and a mystical third factor that I will tease the senses with at the end of the article (stay tuned, you can’t beat a conspiracy theory).
Heavyweights have struggled to break the pound-for-pound list in recent years. And for a valid reason – the division has been pathetic and the four best fighters all refuse to face each other.
For all the heat he gets, I’d state categorically that the only heavyweight I’d bet my mortgage on to beat David Haye, is Vitali Klitschko. When you have Cruiserweights like Haye and Adamek making fighting at the unlimited division look relatively straight forward, you know you’re in trouble.
Take a trip back in time, and you’ll see that it took Evander Holyfield, quite possibly the greatest Cruiserweight in the history of the sport, three full years, and 7 warm up fights to even be ready for a title fight against Buster Douglas.
It’s quite amusing that we once considered 1980s and 1990s Heavyweight boxing as a sub-standard era. Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe were all regulars in the list during that era.
In fact Tyson and Holyfield were numbers 1 and 2 in the list in 1989.
In fact Lewis, Holyfield and Bowe were all in the list in 1995.
In fact Lewis was there right up until 2002.
Please come back, summer of ‘95 (I was at high school, more than likely playing until my fingers bled).
I have no real problem with Wladimir being paid his dues. As I said, it’s a poor list at the minute, and you have to put someone at 10, but I don’t think he actually deserves it.
There are four decent heavyweights in the division in my opinion, and he hasn’t fought three of them. And he can’t fight himself (although I wouldn’t put it past him, if he could somehow manage to convince the IBF to sanction a fight where he just shadow boxed).
If you add a pinch of Adamek to the debate, and it’s the makings of a decent division, although, as stated previously, the relative ease in which two pretty small cruiserweights are making a name for themselves there, well, I just think that speaks volumes about the quality of the “natural” heavyweights about today.
But hey, at least it will be entertaining.
Now it’s time for the conspiracy theory. Well, it’s not a conspiracy theory. This stuff just happens all the time.
Ring Magazine elevate (normally potential opponents of Golden Boy Promotions fighters) guys all of the time in my opinion, before potentially big fights. It helps the industry.
“Wow, he’s Pound for pound four, I better buy that”.
My case in point is Ricky Hatton. He jumped from about 8 to 4 in the list during the build up to the Mayweather fight. He dropped out of the list completely after he lost. He then magically found himself back at 5 for the Pacquiao fight.
He went from nowhere, to 5 in the list, on the back of beating Paulie Malinaggi? If you read the British Boxing press after the Mayweather fight, and during the build up to the Pacquiao bout, you’d have seen that they were all begging the guy to retire, rather than take another beating at Pound-for-Pound level against Pacquiao. They knew he was finished at that level.
Facts don’t matter. Look, he’s pound-for-pound top 5. The fight’s officially now “legit”.
And trust me, this happens all of the time.
The devil in me suspects that Golden Boy Promotions are predicting a Haye/Klitschko bout for 2011, and are doing their usual massaging of the ratings to try and make it as big as possible.
But at the same time, you know, maybe beating four guys nowhere near the top 10 of Ring Magazines divisional ratings is enough to break into their pound-for-pound top 10.