Reposted from Blogger
Top Ten Heavyweights as of 02/15/07 – February 15, 2007
1.) Wladimir Klitschko (IBF Champion) – Wlad has defeated three straight top-ten opponents, easily the longest such streak in the division. He is and probably always will be vulnerable, but for now he’s number 1. He should handle Ray Austin fairly easily in March.
2.) Samuel Peter – One legitimate and one gift victory over the crafty and still capable James Toney put him into the number two spot. Hopefully he can get his shot at Maskaev, as the WBC has jerked Sam around long enough. However, what I really want to see is a rematch with Klitschko. The winner of that fight would be the Ring Champion, which is the only worthy title as far as I am concerned.
3.) Oleg Maskaev (WBC Champion) – Whether it’s Sam Peter, Vitali Klitschko, or whomever, I’d like to see him face a worthy opponent soon. Fighting Peter Okhello did nothing for Oleg except pad his record. Having said that, if he does fight Sam Peter, don’t be surprised at an upset. Maskaev is not the same fighter that lost to Lance Whitaker and Corey Sanders. He has showed a lot of improvement in recent fights.
4.) Nicolay Valuev (WBA Champion) – Big Nic ranks this high mostly by default. Jameel McCline was actually a decent test, but the way that the fight ended proved absolutely nothing. Valuev’s resume is pretty thin, but that will change if he fights Chagaev next.
5.) Shannon Briggs (WBO Champion) – Shannon has precisely one legitimate win over a top-ten opponent. He has all the tools, but he has never managed to put it all together until he beat Liakhovich a few months back. Now that the fight with Ibragimov is off, we may have to wait a while longer to see if his win was just a fluke, or if Shannon is the real deal.
6.) Sergei Liakhovich – Sergei’s loss to Shannon was not devastating to his career, as long as he gets back out there and starts fighting soon. He can still be a player in the division if he stays active and fights smart.
7.) James Toney – Yes, James lost a lopsided decision to Sam Peter. But his skill, experience, and incredibly hard head are still enough for him to beat most of the fighters in the division. Peter was too young and strong, as would be Klitschko or Valuev. However, Toney might have enough left in the tank to hang around a little longer if he stays away from some of the giants of the division.
8.) Calvin Brock – Calvin should rebound from the Klitschko loss. He showed in that fight that he has a tricky defense and plenty of heart. He will probably never be the undisputed champion, but he could get his hands on an alphabet trinket or two before all is said and done. Brock and Liakhovich are in much the same position right now. They both recently lost, but they both have the ability to recover.
9.) Ruslan Chagaev – Chagaev’s win over Ruiz was more impressive than a lot of people will want to admit. John Ruiz’s absurdly boring style has made him the least popular heavyweight titlist in recent memory, but he’s not as bad as his detractors claim. Ruiz was tough, tenacious, and effective. He had decent power, a fairly solid chin (the Tua debacle nonwithstanding), and plenty of stamina. Yet Chagaev was just too much for him to handle. I give Chagaev a good chance at unseating WBA trinket holder Nicolay Valuev.
10.) Lamon Brewster – Brewster apparently plans to fight again soon, which is what kept him in the top ten. His loss to Liakhovich highlighted his weaknesses and strengths perfectly. He’s not the most skilled boxer, but he is strong, hits hard, and has a granite chin. Those attributes alone will keep him competitive. And he has a win over the best fighter in the division. Unfortunately for Lamon, he is also amazingly inconsistent. Sometimes he looks like a world beater, other times he looks like a club fighter.
Who didn’t make the cut (no particular order) –
Vitali Klitschko – Can’t put him in the top ten yet, he needs to fight somebody first.
Chris Byrd – If Chris stays at heavyweight, then he’s probably still in my top ten.
Hasim Rahman – On his way down.
Sultan Ibragimov – Might be good enough, needs to get in better shape.
Ray Austin – He has some skills, but will probably be destroyed by Klitschko.
John Ruiz – Boxing’s most unappreciated fighter has made the most of his opportunities, but he’s on the way down.
Alexander Povetkin – Not quite ready for prime-time.
Eddie Chambers – Same as Povetkin, needs to fight a top-20 or 30 caliber opponent first.
Davarryl Williamson – On the way down.
Audley Harrison – One good win over a declining and unprepared Danny Williams is not enough.
David Tua – Needs to start fighting decent competition, or at least look good against the tomato cans.
Vladimir Virchis – Needs more activity.
Jameel McCline – Blew what was probably his final chance against Valuev.
Evander Holyfield – I want to say he should retire, but I can’t help wanting to root for him.