An often made comment by boxing fans in recent years is that the Heavyweight division is dying. It, apparently, lacks excitement, action and characters. The fighters don't put on wars like they used, they don't have memorable contests like they used to and, worst of all, the fights don't capture the imagination like they did when the likes of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield were at their primes.
On the whole we tend to disagree, two of the most interesting stories we've had on this site were related to Heavyweight boxing and there is, when the occasion is right, real excitement concerning the biggest weight in the sport.
Sadly when you mention "Heavyweight boxing" and the "WBA" in recent years you also need to apply the world "farce" to any complete and accurate sentence. It may seem harsh but really, it's true. The WBA have allowed more farcical title fights in the Heavyweight division than the other 3 major bodies have allowed, combined. The most recent of those farces came earlier today when former champion Ruslan Chagaev (33-2-1, 20) and the 41 year old Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24) fought for the WBA "regular title", a title that really should be re-named the "WBA-we want more sanctioning fees title".
On Friday night the bout was in serious jeopardy as Oquendo's promotional team seemed to refuse to allow him to fight. After a wrangle between the two parties a deal was thrashed out allowing the American to fight though delaying his journey to Chechnya where the fight was taking place. It seemed, for the first few rounds, that that delay in arriving took it's effect on Oquendo who started remarkably slowly.
By the end of the fifth round Chagaev looked to be in cruise control. He had won 5 rounds against a man who simply looked like he didn't want to be there. In round 6 however things started to turn as Chagaev appeared to tire and suffered a nasty cut that seemed to help Oquendo spring into life. Unfortunately for Oquendo he failed to really have the drive or desire to make the most of his opportunity, the skills were there but the determination to win wasn't and instead he ponderously went through the last few rounds against a man who lacked the energy to really fight back.
With Chagaev struggling his buddy, the president of Chechnya, came to his call and walked over to the corner to offer his words of encouragement. We kid you not Ramzan Kadyrov was giving the corner advise to Chagaev. We're unsure what was said but it appears that the words helped Chagaev see his way through the final few rounds, including a torrid 12th which saw him looking all in. Oddly it seems that the bell came to the saviour of Chagaev with the round ending 10 seconds early.
Despite the good start the Uzbek born fighter did see his lead away at by Oquendo's late charge. The charge saw one judge scoring the bout 114-114 but the other two both scored the bout 115-113 in favour of Chagaev, now an adopted Chechen, who celebrated with both the president and the president's child. In all honesty whilst the fight was relatively forgettable it did give Heavyweight boxing a new "character", that of Ramzan Kadyrov who appears to have more passion, desire and money than many others involved in the Heavyweight division.
With the WBA belt around his waist Chagaev becomes a 2-time WBA Heavyweight champion though he really is ripe for the picking and any fighter with the desire to win will beat him. Interestingly this may well see him offered a lot of money to leave Russia to fight someone like David Haye or Tyson Fury and we'd, sadly, favour both of those men to beat this version of Chagaev with out any real problems.
(Image courtesy Notifight.com)
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.