Connect with us

Articles of 2005

Top 25 Heavyweights (As of July 1, 2005)



This is the second monthly edition of the Grant Top 25 Heavyweights. Most of the comments on the last ratings were generally favorable, but among the trends expressed in response to what I wrote was the belief that I’ve rated Wladimir Klitschko too high, I’ve not given Europeans enough credit, and Hasim Rahman doesn’t deserve a number two rating.

I reminded those who emailed me about the Europeans not being given enough credit that the Klitschko brothers are indeed European. In fact 9 Europeans are in this month’s top 25. Also of interest, 13 of the 25 are non-American. It is possible that a fundamental power shift is underway.

For those who think Wladimir Klitschko is undeserving, I suggest a relook at his record – the whole record. He’s beaten many who are positioning for title shots today.

Changes include perhaps the final exit of Mike Tyson in any ratings anywhere. He was at number 14 last month – a rating that was rightfully criticized by many emailers.

Audley Harrison moves past Jameel McCline on the strength of a recent win. Fighters previously rated below Mike Tyson moved up one, except Vassily Jirov and Kali Meehan who remained at 24 and 25 respectively.

Shannon Briggs, on the strength of a recent string of wins, entered this month at 23.

Some will ask why Kevin McBride isn’t in the top 25 and my response to all is to watch the Tyson fight tape. He did nothing that hints of some kind of hidden talent that came out against Tyson. I think he was clearly behind in the fight and never exhibited skills that will enable him to fight with real contenders. He did withstand a few of Tyson’s hard punches – and some dirty stuff – but it was just not that impressive.

Finally, wunderkind Samuel Peter climbs ahead of John Ruiz. Okay, kick me for pushing him ahead of a guy who has actually beaten a few top ten fighters. I’m placing a bet with this one. My bet is that he is the future of the division. Man, this guy is a hitter.

1. Vitali Klitschko, Ukraine – WBC Champion
Klitschko has made overtures to Lamon Brewster and, of late, Oleg Maskaev, as possible opponents in September. Of course the WBC decided that winner of Hasim Rahman – Monte Barrett in August would be the mandatory challenger. No one can be sure what kind of game the elder Klitschko is playing.

2. Hasim Rahman, USA
He meets Monte Barrett for the “interim” WBC title, but more importantly for chance to cash-in by facing Vitali Klitschko. That “interim” title may become permanent if Klitschko decides to buck the WBC and face Oleg Maskaev, as is being whispered in the boxing community. In either case, his matchup with Barrett in August figures to be the most important non-title (or should we call an “interim” title a “semi-title”) heavyweight fight of the summer.

3. Chris Byrd, USA — IBF Champion
Was scheduled to face Serguei Lyakhovich in July but apparently that’s out. Pending litigation by Wladimir Klitschko may force a rematch. If not, the IBF wants him to fight DaVarryl Williamson because he is now rated higher than Klitschko and is the organization’s highest ranking available contender. You see, despite the fact that Klitschko recently beat Williamson, he was pushed down in the ratings below Williamson. Don’t look for it to make any sense. The IBF’s argument defending the rating is comical at best and cynical at worst. Despite Byrd’s higher ranking here, he would enter the ring against Klitschko a decided underdog. Klitschko thoroughly dominated the last time the two met. No real reason to believe it would end differently the second go-round.

4. Lamon Brewster, USA — WBO Champion
The WBO mandates that he face little-known former European champion Luan Krasniqi.  Krasniqi recently scored a KO victory of fringe contender Lance “Mount” Whitaker (or was that “Goofi”?) that suddenly made him, at least in the eyes of the WBO ratings committee, the number one heavyweight in the world. Go figure. It is likely that Brewster will face Krasniqi, if only as a tune-up for real title matches later.

5. Wladimir Klitschko, Ukraine
He’s now waging a court battle to be installed as the mandatory challenger for Chris Byrd’s IBF belt. A win in court would pave the way for what is probably his best chance for regaining a title. Otherwise, it could be a considerable wait. Despite his recent vulnerability, there isn’t a long line of contenders who want to meet young Wladimir.

6. James Toney, USA
“Lights Out” is currently serving 90 day suspension for steroid use. It is unlikely that the drugs made the difference in his big win over defending titlist John Ruiz (later declared a no contest). In any case, at this stage of his career he will likely go where the money leads him and that is to the title belts owned by Chris Byrd, Vitali Klitschko or Lamon Brewster. He can’t fight for the WBA title for two years – which is effectively a life sentence. No matter, the WBA title doesn’t mean very much right now anyway.

7. Monte Barrett, USA
Still scheduled to meet Hasim Rahman in August in a WBC “interim” title. He recently wrote a letter to the WBC expressing his dismay that Vitali Klitschko may not meet the winner of the interim title match. He should instead focus on the very real problem in front of him in the form of Hasim Rahman. If he can get past that obstacle, he needn’t worry, because he’ll get his just due.

8. Calvin Brock, USA
Stopped Kenny Craven in 4 rounds June 25th on the Gatti-Mayweather undercard, in a match that can only be described as a stay-busy fight. Craven, for those who haven’t closely followed his career, recently split a pair with Butterbean and was stopped by him six years ago. You get the picture. Brock simply must get in with the big names soon and often.

9. Samuel Peter, Nigeria
I’m going to continue taking a beating on this one. Peter’s victory over Taurus Sykes was over an opponent who offered no offense. There are many questions remaining about young Samuel, but his power and confidence just may get him through at least one of the alphabet champions very soon. I don’t see a young Mike Tyson emerging – I see the possibility – just a possibility – of a young George Foreman. That is a far higher compliment in my book.

10. John Ruiz, USA — WBA Champion
Word is circulating that his next possible opponent could be the latest Mike Tyson conqueror, Kevin McBride, in defense of the title he was given without a fight. What a terrible match to have affixed the title “world championship.” I guess we’ll watch, but it’s a loss for the viewing audience.

11. Audley Harrison, England – Stopped Robert Davis (KO 7) on 9 June
12. Jameel McCline, USA
13. Danny Williams, England – Stayed busy by belting out Zoltan Petranyi (KO3) on the Tszyu-Hatton undercard. Scheduled to contest Matt Skelton in July for the British title
14. Corrie Sanders, South Africa
15. Nicolay Valuev, Russia
16. Oleg Maskaev, Uzbekistan – Stopped Livin Castillo (KO 3), and he’s suddenly, and inexplicably, being talked about for a title shot againt Vitali Klitschko. He appears much slower than in years past – certainly he’s done nothing to indicate he’s worthy of a championship match
17. DaVarryl Williamson, USA
18. David Tua, New Zealand
19.  Fres Oquendo, USA (Puerto Rico)
20. Serguei Lyakhovich, Belarus – Scheduled to face Owen Beck in August
21. Dominick Guinn, USA
22. Luan Krasniqi, Germany (via Kosovo)
23. Shannon Briggs, USA – Defeated Abraham Okine (KO3) – Last month unrated
24. Vassily Jirov, Kazakhstan
25. Kali Meehan, Australia

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More



A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at

Continue Reading

Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights




Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

Continue Reading

Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06



Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

Continue Reading