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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