Tomorrow fans around the world will get the chance to see a WBA "regular" Heavyweight title fight between Uzbek champion Ruslan Chagaev (34-2-1, 21) and unbeaten Australian champion Lucas Browne (23-0, 20). Today saw the weigh in for that bout and the men were both setting career records with their weights.
The 37 year old champion, who made his pro debut back in 1997 at 210lbs and was as low as 206lbs, was nearing a career high weight at around 248½lbs. The highest he has been was 250lbs, which he weighed against Jovo Pudar back in October 2013, and this is the second highest of his career, only below that Pudar bout. Not only was he heavy but it showed with the champion clearly carrying "extra baggage" on his frame.
Whilst the champion was looking out of shape the 36 year old actually came in at a career low of just over 249¼lbs, around 6lbs lighter than he was last time out. Whilst he is still heavier than the champion he is also 6" taller and is carrying the weight significantly better than Chagaev. Whilst not ripped by any means it's clear that Browne has taken the bout very seriously and come in in the shape of his life for what is a huge opportunity for the very affable Aussie puncher.
Chagaev faces Browne in Grozny for WBA "regular" crown
Last year we saw Uzbekistan's Ruslan Chagaev (34-2-1, 21) claim the WBA "regular" Heavyweight title with a controversial majority decision win over American fighter Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24), in a bout we thought Oquendo had done more than enough to win. Since that loss Oquendo has been trying to enforce a rematch clause whilst Chagaev has done his best to remain inactive, with just a single bout in the last 14 months, and that was a 1-round blow out of Francesco Pianeta back in July.
Now it seems that Oquendo has finally got his way and the two men have, apparently, agreed a deal to fight on October 17th in Kiel, Germany, the country where Chagaev is now based.
The location of the fight is a stark contract to where the first fight took place, in Grozny, in the Chechen Republic though like the first bout Chagaev will be the "home" fighter...unlike the first bout however he's not expected to have the leader of the country there in his corner, as happened last time when Ramzan Kadyrov was essentially an extra cornerman for the Uzbek fighter.
Whilst Chagaev has been inactive with just 1 round of action since the first bout between himself and Oquendo he has actually been more active than Oquendo who hasn't fought since the first bout between the two men. Given more than a year of ring rust and his age, he's now 42, things could be very different to how they were last year.
We have been informed that former WBA Heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (32-2-1, 20) will be given a chance to recapture his old title on July 6th as he takes on American veteran Fres Oquendo (37-7, 24) for the vacant title.
It's hard to defend the WBA's decision for this bout to be a Heavyweight world title bout, in fact if anything it should be an eliminator for the right to challenger Wladimir Klitschko, the real champion. Sadly however the WBA Heavyweight title has been a poison chalice in recent years with the likes of John Ruiz, Nikolay Valuev, David Haye, Chagaev and Alexander Povetkin all being seen as clear second class citizens when compared with the true Heavyweight champion.
The lessening of the WBA title began, rather oddly, when Chagaev was actually the champion way back in the late 00's. The Uzbek, Asia's only ever Heavyweight world champion, was effectively stripped for losing the Klitschko when the two men met in 2009. That bout followed a nasty illness for Chagaev that forced him out of several bouts with Nikolay Valuev who was upgraded to regular champion during Chagaev's illness. The rest, as they say, is history and the title passed from Valuev to Haye and then to Klitschko whilst the WBA created a paper title for Alexander Povetkin.
At his best Chagaev was a fantastic Heavyweight with wonder skills and aggression. At 35 years old however he's lost some of the snap and quickness that he once had and having suffered with with his illness and he's not half the fighter he once was.
Despite being 35 however Chagaev will actually be the younger man with Oquendo being a true ring veteran at 41 years old. Interestingly Oquendo is a very young 41 and is still quick in the ring and tricky.
Although the WBA title will be up for grabs for the winner few will recognise this as true world title fight. Unfortunately until the WBA stop the misuse of their own "super titles" bouts like this will remain the norm.
(Image courtesy of teiken.com)
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