Boxing politics is a funny old game and over the past few years we've seen it become more and more bizarre with the infamous "cold war" in the US forcing the top two Western Promoters to make more and more internal match ups.
In many cases the political situation of the sport has been frustrating, irritating and even backwards though it has rarely forced us to question the sanity of the organisation running the sport, even when the decisions haven't made any sense at all.
One that does have us tearing our hair out is the WBA's decision to have Uzbekistan's Ruslan Chagaev (32-2-1, 20) fight against American veteran Fres Oquendo (37-7, 24) for the "WBA Heavyweight" title. The decision, which immediately cheapens the sport is one that doesn't make sense in the slightest, in fact if anything the WBA are basically saying, openly, that they no longer care about who is the best in division and prefer to think about their sanctioning fees.
As we all know the WBA Heavyweight champion is Wladimir Klitschko who has, incidentally, beat the last 3 WBA Heavyweight champions in the form of David Haye, Alexander Povetkin and Chagaev. Though of course the WBA refer to him as the "WBA undisputed champion" a term as laughably stupid as decreeing this up coming contest as a "world title fight". Surely any organisations "world champion" should be their "undisputed champion" barring the few cases where a mandatory title is properly used, which of course we're seeing less and less often.
Anyway with that short rant out of the way lets get on to this "world" title fight which will be Chagaev's first "world title fight" since his loss to Alexander Povetkin back in 2011. Since that fight Chagaev has run up 5 successive wins, though the most notable of those was a victory over Jovo Pudar last time out. The victory over Pudar was impressive in terms of a performance but poor in several ways, includig the fact Chagaev came to the ring at 250lbs, a career heaviest and some 20lbs heavier than what he is at his best.
At his best Chagaev was a fantastic boxer who had sharp punching, good technique, a genuine toughness and decent snap. He wasn't a monster puncher or lightning quick but he was a very good all round boxer with very few real flaws despite being work man like at times. It was the hard and heavy work of Chagaev that saw him score wins over Nikolay Valuev, John Ruiz and Volodymyr Vyrchys with the Virchis fight being a very impressive one when one realises that Chagaev was far from his usual self due to tragedy outside of the ring.
Sadly however Chagaev is no longer the fighter he once was, in fact he's a million miles from that fighter. He has suffered with serious illness, he has aged notably and is also a long, long way from his best fighting weight. Fighters put weight on they get older but Chagaev hasn't been close to his best fighting weight in around 5 years.
As for Oquendo, who is the older man at 41, this will be his first fight for a "world title". Surprisingly it the American gets this chance on the second longest winning run of his career, a 5 fight winning streak. That winning run has seen him winning against a number of "journeymen" and "gate keepers" though it does appear that those are the sort of fights a boxer needs to secure themselves a world title fight, just ask Deontay Wilder.
Oquendo is one of the more skilled American Heavyweights. He's sharp with his punches, clever in the ring and a fighter who is best known for his speed, hence his nickname "Fast". At 41 he's not as fast as he once was but he's still quick for a Heavyweight in today's world and, in fairness to him, some would argue that his shot is over-due considering some of the other weak title contenders in recent years.
On paper this isn't a world title fight despite the whistles, bells and belt. Likewise Oquendo, despite his skills, isn't a world level fighter, he has lost every time he's stepped up and we imagine the same will happen here. Oquendo will likely give his all but we don't think he'll manage to give enough to over-come even this shop worn version of Chagaev who will become the first ever Asian to become a 2-time Heavyweight champion.
(Image courtesy of WBAnews)
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.