While the mainstream boxing media is busy giving each other awards and virtual reach-arounds on Twitter, a growing boxing scribe underground is on the rise– Writers who have disdain for the glad-handing media-types who now populate the scene and would just as soon face stomp a metrosexual faux-expert than scoop up the free flan at a media buffet.
Welcome to the growing counter-culture of boxing media. Welcome to the Rogue Media Roundtable—an ongoing feature that will highlight thought, debate, and opinion seldom shared in the mainstream boxing media.
Round Two Panel:
Underground Hardcore/Metal thriver and Ambassador Philip H. Anselmo, is a handsome devil who has single-handedly (via sips and sweeties) forgotten more about boxing than most have learned or experienced. Any argument with this statement is purely hogwash.
Johnny Walker has been stalking the cyber-halls of the Internet for many a year, first as a Contributing Editor for the first successful online rock music zine, Addicted To Noise (1995-2001), later reinventing himself as a boxing writer publishing his screeds in such venues as Boxing Insider and The Boxing Tribune.
When he’s not busy being The Boxing Tribune’s resident snoop, Tim Harrison is likely punching fluffy kittens in the eye. Tim has also worked as a columnist at Fighthype.com
Hans Olson left the north, traveled south, and found a tiny house. He couldn’t help the way he felt. Is that really so strange? Seriously, though, Hans is a freelance boxing writer who specializes in coverage of the thriving boxing scene in Quebec, Canada.
Ted Sares is a veteran fight writer, boxing historian, and power-lifting senior citizen. He currently works at Boxing.com.
Paul Magno prides himself on being the turd in the punch bowl for buffet-diving media shills. He’s also Editor-in-Chief at The Boxing Tribune and a Featured Writer for the Yahoo Contributor Network.
The Real State of The Heavyweight Division
Moderator: Conventional boxing talk these days centers around the fact that the heavyweight division is awful, boring, weak, etc. Outside the U.S., though, the division has never been stronger– both in terms of fan appeal and roster of available talent.
What’s your take on the current state of the big men?
Ted Sares: My take is that I like what I see coming out of Europe. The new norm is all about big and very tall guys. In the U.S. Wilder could be something, but he needs to stop finding his opposition in morgues.
All in all, I see Wlad continuing to dominate and Vitali retiring after one more fight. I also see Pulev as the next “big” thing. I like big heavyweights. I like the new norm of 6″4″ and taller because it’s here to stay. It is what it is so we had best get used to it.
Hans Olson: In my opinion, the division is MUCH stronger than the American boxing media would have you believe. Worldwide, it’s as healthy as ever. Unfortunately, the American boxing media can’t handle the fact that the rest of the world caught up.
America isn’t producing the likes of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Holmes, Holyfield, Tyson, and Bowe anymore, that’s for sure…but I’m more than happy with tuning in to see the K-Bros, Haye, Pulev, Povetkin, Fury, etc…
Why is the boxing media in the USA so unwilling to acknowledge today’s talent?
When the Dream Team won the Gold in 1992’s Barcelona games, players like Jordan, Magic, and Bird inspired many across Europe, paving the way for today’s diverse NBA.
Like B-Ball…the world caught up.
America should at least take pride in the fact that many previous eras of greatness paved the way for today’s diverse HW division…
TS: Good stuff Hans. I consider myself a global boxing fan and that’s a hard concept for some to grasp as in the BWA of America. Maybe I’ll sart the BWA of the World.
Paul Magno: The heavyweight division is the casual fan’s division…American fight fans, generally, want blood and guts and guys who want to eat children. I think there’s a coolness about the Klit brothers that puts American fans off…I think there’s definitely some sour grapes and xenophobia there when it comes to acknowledging Euro heavyweights, but I kind of understand the disconnect. Wlad looks like he can walk through walls, yet he’s a very dispassionate, cerebral fighter. It’s like walking into a Rambo movie where Rambo is just a competent, efficient professional and not a bad ass assassin. Personally, I have no issue with the Klits or any of the Euro heavyweights, but I do understand the failure to embrace them.
HO: I get what you mean…
So do you think as a culture, America only knows what it likes because it likes what it knows?
And it has never known guys like the K-Bros…
TS: We knew Ivan Drago and that planted a bit of a seed. Look, the Klits are like watching the movie “Titanic.” You know how it will end, but you like each chapter as they break their opponents down and set them up for the inevitable sinking—err kill. It’s a saga with a beginning and an ending and we in the U.S. may not be patient enough to enjoy it like the huge crowds in Germany do. Watching a Klit fight in Manheim is just as good as watching Cotto in MSG. It depends on what you appreciate. Me, I like the methodical breakdown, the stalk, the stun, and then the kill as the multi-ethnic crowd (Turks, Armenians, Ukes, Russians, and even some Germans) starts in on that weird combination whistle/hiss sound signaling that the end is near. Man, I love that. It’s an event; a happening. Are you feeling me on this yet?
Johnny Walker: The cliché re the heavyweight division’s current awfulness has become the refuge of lazy boxing writers. So the division was any better during Marciano’s reign? And let’s not forget Joe Louis’s ‘Bum of the Month Club.’ Actually, fans and writers alike seem to have loved moaning about the state of the HW division through the decades almost as much as they like watching heavyweights fight.
For me, the HW division is still the most interesting one in boxing, because these are the biggest boys out there. Watching two little guys beat each other up can be fun, but it’s not the same thrill as watching the behemoths collide.
As far the Klitschkos go, I always have to go back and remind people that they are two very different fighters. Where I can understand some of the criticism of Wlad as sometimes being too cautious, I really don’t see how that applies to Vitali. Vitali is a gunslinger who fights with his hands at his sides and who has never minded taking a shot to give one in return. I would tell anyone who thinks Vitali is “boring” to watch his fight with Corrie Sanders (RIP) , still one of the most brutal heavyweight contests I have ever seen. One of Sanders’ ears is literally a piece of shriveled gristle by the end of that fight.
Vitali is getting old now for boxing, but at his best he always brought a sense of drama and danger with him to the ring. Wlad can get there but has to push himself — he admits he wasn’t born with big bro’s killer instinct. “Vitali was born a fighter — I had to make myself one,” says Wlad. And you can see that in the ring. I also think Vitali’s successful return, after 3+ years off due to injury, to make the formerly feared Sam Peter quit on his stool, then going on to be even more dominant than he was previously, is one of the most remarkable sporting achievements we’ve seen, positively Michael Jordan-like. Yet on a recent Showtime boxing broadcast, Al Bernstein put up a graphic recounting great boxing comebacks, and though he had lesser ones up there, he ignored Vitali, or forgot him. All too typical, really.
Anyway, as far the HW division goes, what it has lost in America it is making up for in other places like Eastern Europe, where the gyms are reportedly full of young hopefuls wanting to be the next Wlad or Vitali. Things also look pretty bright in the UK with Haye back in the picture along with Fury, Price and Chisora. And I still think all it will take is for an American to get a belt for the division to suddenly be proclaimed resurrected in the USA.
TS: Could not have said it better myself. In fact I will use it on Klit Haters of which there are an abundance.
JW: And hey — the Klitschkos are VERY popular here in the unhip section of Brooklyn where I live. Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay — I hear more Russian spoken here than English by far. And when Wlad fought at MSG, the Q train was packed with Eastern Europeans headed to the fight.
I have some guys from Georgia (not the US version, but the former Soviet state) here working on the flood damaged basement, and they got all excited when I showed them my Vitali Klitschko t-shirt. They are all fans.
“Klitschkos are the BEST,” they say to me all the time.
So now I gotta get them the shirt(s) as well, hahaha…I notice Wlad is getting loads of attention in the US …. now that he is banging Hayden Panettiere again.
Phil Anselmo: Ok…
STATE OF THE HW DIVISION: PT 1:
Gotta love Davey Haye’s re-emergence on the scene.. and his “Fuck off Fury” approach. DH’s not stupid. He damn well knows a battle between himself and big Tyson Fury would be EPIC.
Haye just “challenged” Kubrat Pulev. And I love it.
He’s basically leap-frogging Fury, who’s supposed to fight KP in an “elimination” bout for some shitheel alphabet groupers. Haye knows what he’s doing. So does his DICK manager. In short, if this DH-KP fight gets made, it forces a Fury showdown.
Could the EPIC SHITTALK prospects get better? And it’s a damn intriguing fight on top of all the pre-fight hype that’ll be some “must see and hear” entertainment from two dudes that are damn near the paramount when it comes to shit talk, in the HW’s at least.
The KP-DH-TFury circle has the potential to be a verrrrry interesting injection into the HW division, not to mention the frigging UK enthusiasm! This fight, between DH-and-TFury has the theatrics and potential killer scrap written all over it, and I predict, it could be the biggest draw in British history.
And what if Pulev wins (?) over BOTH guys?
But what about Steve Cunningham as well? (lets talk about something real)
He will be game, but there’s no fucking way I’d pick that small-a-dude to beat a mobile, quick-fisted, determined, multi-punching, 6-9″ 250lb nut ball Christian freak.
Fury wins.. by decision, or late TKO. BUT (!), if fucking Cunningham wins this one somehow, he should get “Comeback Fighter of The Year”… but it ain’t gonna happen.
And then there’s Deontay Wilder fighting… who? Audley?
Well, all I gotta say is I really hope the ‘ol Brit comes out-a-swinging.. and I hope he is as relaxed as he was in this past year’s “Contender” or whatever the piss it’s called. He looked fit. He looked loose. And when he let his hands go, sometimes with his eyes completely closed might I add, they often hit the target, sometimes concussively from what i remember… but depending on how many sips I mighta consumed, the Audley KO ratio might be off.. but who cares? It’s Audley! A chronic choker in “big” fights. Why should ANYONE give him a chance here?
I haven’t said a damn word about Wilder yet, but that’s kinda justified. I wanna see this kid’s D tested. I wanna see his footwork under duress, his head movement and his counter-shots as well.
Truth told, I like the “IDEA” of Wilder.
He’s a slim, 6-8″ athlete, who obviously takes care of himself, physically. But is his MIND as well-conditioned? We’ve gotta find out at an “elite” level eventually, correct?
Well, then maybe Audley is a micro-step in the correct direction. If he KO’s the Brit in style, I think he perhaps could convince a good majority of the boxing public that he’s an early-round menace; a guy who can, and will test you, and test you early.
That would be exciting on a small scale for US HW boxing… but a baby-slug-step in the right direction.
But if Audley stuns the universe, and beats Deontay, well, for heck’s sake, that would be bottom-barrel talk.
And I’m not in the mood.
Wilder should win, but if it’s over a “Webster’s Dictionary” version of Harrison, big fucking deal.
And if he wins, hypothetically, and his handlers rush him into a… dare I say, K-Brother fight (?!!), it would be sad.
Wilder needs all the experience he can get.
K-Brother are ELITE, in any era of HW History.
PM: Below the Klits, there is a shitload of parity throughout the division– and that makes for good fights. You can basically take any two fighters from #3 to #15, put them together, and have a good, competitive bout. Even the American scene is starting to get a bit deeper…
I think it’s pointless to dwell on whether there was more talent, better talent 20, 40 years ago. In the here and now, there are plenty of good match-ups to be made.
American fans and media are being left out in the cold because, let’s be honest here, the new Euro scene doesn’t need the American money and doesn’t care to cater to the American market. Guys like Haye and Fury could be crossover stars in both markets because they come to the States and stroke the American ego. The Klits don’t do that. That perceived cold shoulder and the disconnect that I mentioned earlier will always keep them from becoming big in the U.S.
TS: Look, two recent FOTY type fights were between the “Pin” and Mike Mollo, and Golata-Saleta. There are some great fights out there depending on style matchups. BTW, what the fuck is a PIN?
Tim Harrison: I think the current state of the heavyweight division is as strong as it’s ever been, just not here in the states. Prior to my introduction to boxing’s cyber-presence and the ability to watch almost any fight in the world if I can spend enough time weeding through the junk streams, I too was under the impression that the HW division was in the dumps.
But all of the action is in Europe where Soccer stadiums are filling up to watch these “big, boring” behemoths fight. And Americans want to hold onto the myth that we’re superior in everything we touch.
But reality and myth are two different things.
HO: I agree…the reality is that many people in America don’t like anything if it isn’t American…although in recent years guys like Manny Pacquiao have been able to cross over to the mainstream…so I still think that it could happen. I think that if the K-Bros fought in the States more, we would see their popularity rise. In big boxing areas like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and Montreal…I guarantee you either K-Bro could headline a card and sell it out. Even if the opposition was another unknown European fighter. Their name does resonate, even if the general opinion claims otherwise. Look at when Vitali fought Arreola…Vitali had a TON of support there. The one thing that prevents that is their deal with German television network RTL…and they just signed on for 5 more fights last fall worth 15 million Euro. It’s tough to sell a fight in the states when you’re making sooo much cash over in Germany.
Another thing that people fail to recognize is that in North America, over the last ten years we’ve had an amazing plethora of talent in the lower weights. With Mayweather, Pacquiao, Morales, Barrera, Cotto, Mosley, etc, etc….
Fans have gotten used to seeing a certain type of fight and/or certain type of action. Although guys like Mayweather are considered “boring” too…the style he employs is obviously different than a K-Bro…speed , reflexes, and counters could look more “exciting” to the common fan in comparison to Wlad, who employs his jab, distance and eventually bludgeons. Because Wlad uses his ability with such dominance, it often looks like he’s involved in mismatches. Fans got used to a defense first style when Pernell Whittaker was thrilling…and I think many people feel Maweather is a sort of extension of that.
I may not be making much sense here…but maybe I’ll find a way home with my point somehow (laughs)…
I just think that people don’t realize the subtleties of heavyweight boxing when they’re so used to seeing fast paced lighter weight action. I love both…but some don’t.
That said…I still don’t understand why the common fan doesn’t at least acknowledge the dominance of the name Klitschcko.
TH: Hans, you make a very good point about a heavyweight style, especially the Klitschko style, being boring to many viewers. You do make a lot of sense. Fans want high octane action and (as Dougie Fisher would say) fast-twitch muscle fibers on display, not big, calculated and patient surgeons picking apart some guy with a name they can’t even pronounce.
It really boils down to a shrinking attention span of the masses.
PA: Ok, from what I’m reading, we are all in the majority of folks that appreciate the K-Brothers, and that’s great.
But I’m gonna switch gears here, and list some names of HW boxers who’s record (Win-Loss) ratio passes the eye test.
It might get long and tedious, but bare with me, I have a theory.
1. Vladimir Lazebnik 14-0, 8 KO’s
2. Vladimir Chanturia 13-0, 9 KO’s
3. Tomasz Hutkowski 20-0-2, 14 KO’s
4. Ruben Angel Mino 11-0, 11 KO’s
5. Nelson Dario Dominguez 10-0-1, 5 KO’s (his last fight ended in a draw)
6. Mark Salser 9-0, 9 KO’s
7. Lateef Kayode 10-0, 9 KO’s
8. Jeremiah Graziano 12-0, 12 KO’s
9. Justin Jones 15-0-1, 10 KO’s
10. Gary Cornish 14-0, 6 KO’s
11. George “Monk” Foreman III 16-0, 15 KO’s (wow… sorry ahead of time!!!)
12. Dillian Whyte 9-0, 5 KO’s
13. Ali Mansour 13-0, 8 KO’s
14. Ashanti Jordan 10-0, 7 KO’s
15. Alexander Flores 12-0, 10 KO’s
16. Andy Ruiz Jr. 18-0, 12 KO’s (next up vs. Joe Hanks)
17. Krzysztof Zimnoch 14-0-1, 11 KO’s (vs. Oliver McCall Sr., and I’m serious!)
18. Aaron Green 11-0, 9 KO’s
19. Andrey Rudenko 24-0, 16 KO’s
20. Oscar Rivas 12-0, 7 KO’s
21. Richard Towers 14-0, 11 KO’s (vs. Lucas Browne)
22. Alexey Soloviev 18-0, 12 KO’s
23. Vladimir Tereshkin 16-0-1, 7 KO’s
24. Lucas Browne 15-0, 14 KO’s (vs. Richard Towers)
25. Fabio Maldonado 21-0, 20 KO’s
26. Goran Delic 17-0, 3 KO’s (obviously feather-fisted)
27. Matteo Modungo 13-0, 7 KO’s
28. Amir Mansour 17-0, 13 KO’s
29. Joe Hanks 21-0, 14 KO’s (vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.)
30. Michael Wallisch 8-0, 5 KO’s
31. Arnold Gjergiai 21-0, 13 KO’s
32. Jarno Rosberg 14-0, 4 KO’s
33. Deontay Wilder 27-0, 27 KO’s (we know him… but his record is glossy baby…)
34. Luiz Ortiz 19-0, 16 KO’s
35. Mike Perez 18-0, 12 KO’s
36. Andrzej Wawrzyk 27-0, 13 KO’s
37. Magomed Abdusalamov 17-0, 17 KO’s
38. Artur Szpilka 13-0, 10 KO’s
39. Francesco Pianetta 28-0-1, 15 KO’s (vs. Wladimir Klitschko lord help him)
40. Malik Scott 35-0-1, 12 KO’s (feather-fisted, defensive and coming off a draw)
41. Vyacheslav Glazkov 14-0-1, 9 KO’s (coming off a draw with dude above)
42. Bryant Jennings 16-0, 8 KO’s (good fighter, but will prove to be too small, eventually)
43. Robert Helenius 19-0, 11 KO’s (everyone’s fav whipping-boy, but I think he’s still got something)
44. Kubrat Pulev 17-0, 9 KO’s (vs. Tomasz Adamek, I think)
45. Denis Boystov 32-0, 25 KO’s (when the fuck is this dude gonna fight?) He’s almost as bad as….
46.Alexander Povetkin 25-0, 17 KO’s (ANYONE scared of Fres O. these days outta hang ’em up)
47. Tyson Fury 20-0, 17 KO’s (TF will be/could be a really good fighter… we’ll see).
What do these boxers have on common?
So, the way I see it, there is an INSANE amount of “glossy”, competitive fights out there to be made in the HW division.
I am NOT a nationalist when it comes to this great sport. I don’t care where a fighter is from, may the best man win. That’s why I have hope in the HW division… for fuck’s sake, it’s all laid out there!!!!!
Sad thing is, not many of these guys will ever battle each other, and we know it all too well, it’s the “business” of boxing that’ll ruin it.
Anyway, have fun with the list!
PM: I’m not a Klitschko “hater,” but I’m also not really a fan. There’s no doubt that they are the best around today and have done everything that can be expected of world champs. The fact that the American media and fans have decided to collectively ignore and/or diminish their dominance is just bad form.
Coming Next– Round Three: “On Donaire-Rigondeaux