For a third successive day Asian fighters are involved in world title fights with Uzbek born Heavyweight Ruslan Chagaev (34-2-1, 21) defending his WBA title against unbeaten Australian puncher Lucas Browne (23-0, 20). The bout, one of the bouts recently set out as part of the WBA's Heavyweight unification tournament, will be taking place in Grozny and looks likely to be an intriguing bout, even if neither man is truly a world class Heavyweight, at least not at the moment.
Aged 37 Chagaev was once one of the top Heavyweights on the planet. There was a time where you could clearly describe him as the #2 Heavyweight, behind only Wladimir Klitschko. Sadly however that time was around 9 years ago, when he strung together wins over Volodymyr Vyrchys, Michael Sprott, John Ruiz and Nikolay Valuev.
At his best Chagaev was a tough and intelligent fighter. Technically he was among the best in the division. He could box, brawl or counter and seemed capable of being a very solid all rounder with hurtful power, better than average speed and a real gritty toughness. Sadly however his prime years were hampered with injuries and illness, and from 2009 onwards he was made to look very poor. That was most notable when he was stopped by Wladimir Klitschko in June 2009.
Since that loss to Klitschko we've seen Chagaev go 9-1, losing Alexander Povetkin in 2011 and subsequently stringing together 7 wins. Those wins have included a very controversial win over Fres Oquendo, in 2014, to claim the WBA “regular” title and a defense of that title, stopping Francesco Pianeta inside a round last year.
Whilst Chagaev was once a hugely talented fighter he's no longer that fighter and is now an older, slower and podgier fighter than the man he had once been. On the other hand Browne has never been any where near as good as a prime Chagaev.
In all honesty the Australian challenger is technically rudimentary, pretty limited and fundamentally flawed. Despite that he's a big hitter, with genuine power in both hands, he's tough, has a good engine and a great will to win. He can certainly be out boxed but not many will out brawl him and given his desire we suspect he'll be in the shape of his life for this bout. We're not saying he'll be ripped and look like a shaven headed, heavily tattooed Adonis, but he will likely be in much better shape than he was when he faced Eric Martel Bahoeli a couple of years ago, and came in at a frankly ridiculous 273lbs.
Naturally a big strong guy Browne is also incredibly likeable and although he'll be the first to admit he's not the most talented he's the sort of fighter who is very easy to cheer on. He's also a fighter who has taken to the road on a number of occasions, with bouts in the UK and Hong Kong. Saying that however those bouts say him as the affable visitor, and although away from home he was the “promoters boy” so to speak. In Grozny that will certainly not be the case, with he crowd almost certainly against him. He will have to use that to ignite a fire as it's very difficult to see him getting a decision here.
If Browne comes out swinging, and looks to shake up Chagaev we can genuinely see the WBA title heading with Browne to Australia. He has the power and physicality to see off the current version of Chagaev. If the challenger isn't firing on all cylinders however it's likely we'll see Chagaev take a clear decision, whether he deserves it or not.
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.