Monday, December 23, 2013

A Look At The Heavyweight Division Heading Into 2014

As the end of 2013 draws near, a question that many fans and experts alike will have going into 2014 is what may happen to the Heavyweight division? The  question has gained more prominence due in large part to the recent announcement that WBC Heavyweight world champion Vitali Klitschko has relinquished his portion of the World Heavyweight Championship and has been named champion emeritus by the World Boxing Council (WBC). Most probably saw this as a formality as it has been common knowledge to many fans that Vitali Klitschko has had his sights set on running for the presidency of Ukraine for some time.

In short, Klitschko’s “Emeritus” status basically gives him the right to challenge the WBC world champion in the Heavyweight division if at some point in the future he opts to resume what has been a stellar career. Klitschko’s decision to relinquish his title however, has for the time being, broken at least in part the dominance of what this observer has often called “The Two-Headed Heavyweight Championship Monster” known as the Klitschko brothers.

For the first time since Vitali regained the WBC championship in 2008 by stopping Sam Peter, the World Heavyweight Championship will not be exclusively controlled by the Klitschko brothers. An interesting question however, will be who will step in and fill the vacancy of the WBC championship. The WBC has announced that it has ordered immediate open negotiations for a rematch to take place between it’s two top contenders Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola to determine a new WBC champion in the Heavyweight division.  When Stiverne and Arreola met in April of this year, it was Stiverne who outworked Arreola in route to winning a twelve round unanimous decision.

Some might argue that Stiverne defeated Arreola in convincing fashion and would question why a rematch would be warranted. For purposes of the subject of the WBC championship, Stiverne and Arreola are ranked number one and two respectfully in the WBC’s Heavyweight ratings. Although the purpose of the encounter between the two earlier this year was to determine a mandatory challenger for Vitali Klitschko, despite what some may feel was a convincing win for Stiverne, circumstances have now changed.

It is also important to remember that despite the loss to Stiverne, Chris Arreola is still a legitimate contender and has been a top contender in the Heavyweight division for several years. Arreola rebounded from the loss in September by scoring a first round knockout over Seth Mitchell in devastating fashion. Arreola deserves an opportunity to not only see if he can avenge his loss to Stiverne, but also fight for the WBC world championship for the second time in his career after previously coming up short against Vitali Klitschko in September of 2009.

At least in the short-term this would seem to answer the question of who will be in position to fill the vacancy of the WBC Heavyweight world championship. On a wider scale however, a more compelling question might be what will happen in the long-term future of the Heavyweight division? It is logical for one to assume that whomever should emerge as WBC champion that it will set in motion an inevitable collision course with unified IBF/WBO/WBA/IBO world champion Wladimir Klitschko, the man who now should be viewed as the number one fighter in the division now that his brother has for the moment put his Boxing career on hold.

Although there are many who do not fully appreciate the magnitude of both brothers’ skills and dominance in their era atop the division, the statistics don’t lie. Both have had multiple reigns as Heavyweight champion, both have had reigns that stretched out over significant periods of time. In their most recent reigns, Vitali was able to successfully defend his title nine times while Wladimir has thus far made fifteen successful defenses of his title. In regard to Wladimir he is approaching joining an exclusive group. Only two men have had more successful defenses in their respective reigns as Heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes who had twenty successful title defenses and Joe Louis who had twenty-five successful defenses. As Wladimir continues to defend his title it is only natural that his name will be brought up more and more in association with both Holmes and Louis.

It goes without saying however, that the Klitschko era of the Heavyweight division will conclude one day. Most are probably of the opinion that like Vitali, Wladimir will likely retire on top as champion. Although it is hard to argue against such an opinion based on each of their dominance as champions, there is the possibility that someone might come along who may be able to dethrone Wladimir. Wladimir is thirty-seven years old and Vitali is forty-two years old.

One thing all boxers must face at some point regardless of how successful and dominant they might be in addition to facing opponents standing across the ring from them is facing an opponent that most have not been able to beat, father time. There have been exceptions that have beaten the odds, examples being George Foreman who regained the Heavyweight championship at age forty-five and current IBF Light-Heavyweight world champion Bernard Hopkins who is still at the top of his game as he nears his forty-ninth birthday. Wladimir Klitschko could well be another exception. Despite some early setbacks in his career, he has established himself along with his brother as an all-time great and since regaining a portion of the World Heavyweight Championship in 2006 and successfully unifying it no one has come close to defeating him.

Although it is logical to assume an eventual showdown between Wladimir and whomever should emerge as WBC champion to determine an “Undisputed” World Heavyweight champion, there are other fighters waiting in the wings. In terms of the immediate future, Wladimir has two mandatory defenses of his unified title in his sights of his IBF and WBO crowns against undefeated IBF number one contender Kubrat Pulev, with the winner of that fight to presumably face WBO number one contender Alex Leapai. As of this writing there is no scheduled date for a fight between Klitschko and Pulev, nor is there a mandatory challenger in the WBA’s Heavyweight ratings after Klitschko successfully defeated longtime WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in October.

Along with Pulev and Leapai there are other contenders who will likely look to challenge the winner of the WBC championship fight between Stiverne and Arreola in hopes of eventually facing Klitschko. A fighter such as the undefeated Deontay Wilder would likely be considered a front-runner to challenge the winner in their first title defense. There are also fighters such as Bryant Jennings, Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora, Tomasz Adamek, and Mike Perez just to name a few who are also very much in the mix and could find themselves in position to fight either the WBC champion or Wladimir Klitschko at some point.

Whether or not 2014 will be known as the year that one “Undisputed” champion with all world titles available in the Heavyweight division finally emerges remains to be seen. This observer however, believes it is more likely considering the potential for injuries, postponements, and the political elements of the sport that 2014 might be the year that lays the groundwork toward an “Undisputed” champion.

For a division that has been labeled by many to be “boring” in recent years, the Heavyweight division just might be approaching it’s reemergence as a major focal point of the sport. Is that day near? We will have to wait and see, but one thing is certain, it will surely be interesting to see how the current landscape of the division plays out.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter:  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lopez-Arnaoutis Should There Be A Rematch?

One of the things that makes the sport of Boxing unique and great is that a fighter can become a star of the sport in a couple of different ways. Of course the most notable way to most would be for a fighter to win and win impressively. There are however, fighters who have endeared themselves to Boxing fans by the courage they have shown in battle. Sometimes it is not wins and losses that can make a fighter star, but rather how they fight. A fighter who has endeared himself to Boxing fans for the courage he has shown win or lose is Welterweight contender Josesito Lopez.

One might argue that Lopez became a star after defeating former Welterweight world champion Victor Ortiz last year in a grueling back and forth fight where Lopez broke Ortiz’ jaw in route to a ninth round stoppage when Ortiz could not continue. Lopez, who had entered the fight as a substitute opponent, in his first fight in the Welterweight division showed his courage by going toe to toe with Ortiz. In a fight where most felt Ortiz would win, Lopez wound up pulling off a come from behind victory as he was trailing on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.

The win over Ortiz not only put Lopez on the map, but off his performance in that fight he was able to secure a title shot against former Jr. Middleweight world champion Saul Alvarez in September of last year. Although Lopez was not a natural Jr. Middleweight, who had never fought in the 147lb. Welterweight division prior to taking on Ortiz, Lopez took on the naturally bigger Alvarez, again with the odds against him. In that fight Alvarez knocked Lopez down in rounds two, three, and four before the bout was stopped in round five. Lopez suffered a beating in that fight, but was quite “Game” and gave a valiant effort in defeat.

In June of this year Lopez engaged in a slugfest against Marcos Maidana in a fight where both fighters had their moments, but ultimately it was Maidana who got the better of Lopez, stopping him in six rounds. Despite having lost two of his last three fights Lopez had clearly established himself as a force to be reckoned with.

When the twenty-nine year old Lopez entered the ring on December 13th for his fight against Mike Arnaoutis in Indio, California, one of the questions that this observer had in mind was what affect if any did Lopez’ previous three fights have on him? It is important to remember that Lopez had engaged in three grueling fights in a short period of time. The physical toll of those battles in such a short span of time can definitely have an affect on a fighter. An argument could have been made however, that Lopez, who entered the fight with a record of 30-6, with 18 Knockouts was not facing a fighter with the type of punching power or, aggressive style as his previous three opponents in Mike Arnaoutis.

Arnaoutis, a long time contender in both the Jr. Welterweight and Welterweight divisions came into his fight with Lopez with a record of 24-9-2, with 11 Knockouts having lost five of his last seven fights. Although having the ability to outbox his opponents having only scored eleven knockouts in his twenty-four wins, some may have been of the opinion that Arnaoutis was now on the downside of his career. For the thirty-four-year-old Arnaoutis however, this fight presented an opportunity to revitalize his career.

It was somewhat surprising to see this fight being fought at a tactical pace in the early going where both fighters were able to be effective. The first two rounds were what could be described as “Swing Rounds” where an argument could easily be made for either fighter having won those rounds. The momentum turned in the closing seconds of round three when Arnaoutis scored a knockdown of Lopez as a result of a jab that caught Lopez off balance where his glove touched the canvas.

Lopez was not hurt by the knockdown, and began round four by stepping up his aggression, but Arnaoutis was also effective in throwing short crisp punches. Despite coming into the fight having lost five of his last seven bouts Arnaoutis is after all a world-class boxer who twice challenged for a world title in his own right. It was clear that Arnaoutis came to fight and was looking to make the most of this opportunity. The round was difficult to score and when it comes to rounds that are “Swing Rounds” it will often boil down to what a judge prefers in their criteria based on clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense.

From my perspective I had this fight even in rounds at the end of four rounds. Because of the knockdown in round three however, Arnaoutis had a slight edge in points in my opinion. There easily could be a difference of opinion as to who had the edge based on how the early rounds were fought. It was a very competitive fight.

Although Lopez continued to step up his aggression, it was Arnaoutis who as the fight progressed seemed to grow in confidence as he used his jab to set up and throw combinations and held his own in exchanges with Lopez. Even with the knockdown against Lopez in round three, this fight was extremely close.

The momentum appeared to slightly shift in Lopez’ favor in the seventh round as he was able to back Arnaoutis up and land punches to the body and head. Lopez however, did have trouble cutting the ring off from Arnaoutis who was able to use his lateral movement to avoid being trapped on the ropes for long periods of time.

An accidental clash of heads opened a bad cut over the left eye of Arnaoutis midway through round eight, which would ultimately bring this ten round bout to an early ending as following the eighth round Arnaoutis told a ringside physician that he could not see out of his left eye causing the bout to be stopped and the fight would go to the scorecards for a technical decision after eight rounds.

All three judges Fritz Warner, Max DeLuca, and Tom Taylor had Lopez ahead at the time of the stoppage making him the winner by a unanimous technical decision. Although this was a very close fight and was not easy to score, I had Arnaoutis ahead 76-75 at the end of the eighth round. It is certainly understandable however, given how this fight was fought how the three judges could have it the other way and in the case of judges Fritz Warner and Max DeLuca had Lopez ahead 77-74 on their scorecards, in contrast judge Tom Taylor had a scorecard similar to mine, only with a difference of opinion as to who was ahead. It was definitely not the easiest assignment for these judges and they should be given credit for turning in reasonable scorecards.

What’s next for Lopez and Arnaoutis? Well, in this observer’s eyes this fight was very competitive and frankly had a somewhat inconclusive outcome. An outcome that would theoretically leave the door open for a rematch down the line. Whether or not a rematch is in the immediate future is unknown. There are opportunities that could be open to both Lopez and Arnaoutis in a crowded Welterweight division where there are several interesting fights that could be made and certainly a lot of money on the table.

If a rematch is not in the immediate cards for Josesito Lopez, it would be logical in the eyes of this observer to see Lopez potentially face the winner of the upcoming fight between former Welterweight world champions Victor Ortiz and Luis Collazo that is scheduled to take place on January 30, 2014. Either a rematch with Ortiz or a fight with Luis Collazo could prove to be very entertaining.

If however, it is possible for a rematch between Lopez and Arnaoutis to be made this observer believes it should be considered. If nothing else Arnaoutis showed despite appearing that he may be on the downside of his career that he has more fight left in him and gave a good account himself against Lopez. Should there be a rematch? Why not?

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter:


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

BKB 2: “Action Packed!”

When the modernized concept of BKB: Bare-Knuckle Boxing was introduced in July by United States satellite television provider DirecTV, this observer had obvious concerns with regard to the fighters safety, but was at the same time intrigued and curious to see what this concept would look like in practice. A concept that involved the use of knuckle exposed Boxing gloves and a circular fighting area known simply as the “BKB pit.”

The BKB pit certainly stands apart from a traditional Boxing ring in that it measures seventeen feet in diameter and 227 square feet making it just over half the size of a traditional 20 x 20 Boxing ring with no ropes or corners. Colored lift gates that signify each fighter’s corner are used to lift and lock the fighters in the pit at the start of each round. The first BKB card provided much excitement and showed that this unique concept had potential to grow.

The second BKB card premiered on December 7th and like the first card was available via pay-per-view exclusively to subscribers of DirecTV. Following what was a successful first card of BKB Boxing, this observer was interested to see if those who promote BKB could capitalize on the momentum of the first card.

The second card which took place at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire featured a total of eight bouts with three championship fights each scheduled for seven two minute rounds in the Lightweight, Welterweight, and Middleweight divisions. The non-championship bouts on this card were each scheduled for five two minute rounds and ranged from the Lightweight division to the Heavyweight division.

As I stated following the first BKB card, the format of BKB specifically the two minute rounds, seems to ensure a quick pace. Due to the size of the BKB pit this type of format does not necessarily favor fighters who like to use a lot of movement in the fighting style. The pit however, is tailor-made for fighters who like to fight on the inside. Because of the two minute rounds fighters tend to let their hands go more quickly from the outset rather than a traditional three minute round where there can be a feeling out process early on. There is also an open scoring format in BKB where official scores are done on the traditional ten-point must system with the scores being announced to the fighters and audience in attendance after each round. From a fan’s perspective this format can be and has thus far proven to be entertaining.

As was the case in the first BKB card the effects of the punches landed was immediately noticeable due to the difference between the BKB knuckle exposed gloves as compared to a traditional Boxing glove. The BKB glove weighing between eight and ten ounces depending on the weight class in which a fight is being fought. This was a slight change from the first BKB card where gloves weighed between five and seven ounces depending on weight class. The questions and concerns that I had prior to the first BKB card with regard to the safety of the fighters were adequately answered by the New Hampshire Boxing and Wrestling Commission. In the opening bout of the second BKB card. a Lightweight bout between Raul Tovar Jr. and Augustine Mauras was stopped after three completed rounds due to cuts suffered by both fighters due to an accidental clash of heads in the first round. In addition to the damage caused by the head butt, both fighters were able to inflict damage on each other thus worsening the cuts. In what was an exciting battle Tovar earned a close technical majority decision after three rounds, essentially defeating Mauras by one point on the deciding scorecard. 

It should not be overlooked especially in light of recent tragedies that have affected the sport of Boxing that although this particular fight was exciting to watch where both fighters had their moments, when the fight should have been stopped, “it was.” All credit to the New Hampshire Commission and Referee Steve Smoger for taking appropriate action and thus ensuring that neither fighter suffered further damage.

Despite the format of BKB giving the appearance to some of a form of Boxing where the sole objective is to stand and trade, resembling more of a fight than actual Boxing, this observer respectfully disagrees. Even though the difference in length of rounds fought in BKB does seem to ensure a quick pace, this does not mean that there is not skill and intelligence involved.

Although the BKB pit seems favorable to an inside fighter’s game, a skilled Boxer can find ways to be effective. This was demonstrated at BKB 2 in a Light-Heavyweight bout between Lekan Byfield and Jason Naugler. Byfield was able to consistently beat Naugler to the punch by consistently using his jab to set off combinations and being able to use lateral movement to turn Naugler in route to a convincing five round unanimous decision. It should be noted that this fight was announced as being a Welterweight contest however, the weights of the fighters 165lbs. and 162lbs. respectfully seem more in line with Naugler’s memorable bout in the first BKB card against Teneal Goyco where the two fighters weighed in at 168lbs. and 169lbs. respectfully. 

It is unclear as of this writing whether or not there was a change in how weight classes in BKB are structured, but this observer believes that this was merely an error that went unnoticed. As this observer said following the first BKB card, it goes without saying that whenever there is a new concept or would be new sport put into practice that there is likely to be some confusion early on. This is not necessarily limited to strictly the first event where a new concept/sport is put into practice. In the case of BKB this observer believes that there will be further clarification on not only weight classes, but also the overall structure of the format and rules of BKB on subsequent cards. Simply put the more cards that take place, the more likely there is to be clarification and less confusion. In any event, Byfield’s performance against Naugler should be considered one of the best Boxing performances in the short history of BKB.

Byfield’s performance however, was not the only noteworthy performance that demonstrated Boxing skill at the second installment of BKB. In a fight that one might use the old adage was “fought in a phone booth”, Middleweight Don Mouton was able outwork Jesse Orta over five extremely close rounds fought almost entirely in close. What makes this particularly noteworthy is that Mouton was deducted a point at the completion of the fourth round for a low blow thrown after the bell. Despite the point deduction Mouton’s steady body attack along with scoring a knockdown of Orta in round five, earned a hard fought majority decision.

 Another good example of Boxing skill being implemented in this format was demonstrated by Welterweight Javier Garcia, who scored an impressive second round knockout over Allen Litzau to win the BKB Welterweight championship. Garcia was measured in his attack in this fight and tactically took a seemingly overmatched Litzau out.  

There was no doubt however, that the fight of the night was the bout for the BKB Middleweight championship between Eddie Caminero and longtime Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight contender David Estrada. For seven rounds Caminero and Estrada went toe to toe in an exciting battle which saw plenty of give and take between the two with Caminero earning a hard fought unanimous decision.  

An element of controversy however, would emerge in the main event of this card for the BKB Lightweight championship between Eric Fowler and Bryan Abraham. In the final minute of round three, Fowler dropped Abraham with a right hand. Seconds after Abraham arose from the knockdown Fowler closed the show by landing a vicious right hand which caused Abraham to turn his back causing Referee Dave Greenwood to stop the fight. The stoppage was met with a round of boos from the crowd in attendance. Greenwood’s stoppage however, was appropriate in that Abraham was clearly hurt and had turned his back on his way down. The fighter’s safety should always be the primary concern.

Overall I came away from this card feeling that this concept is growing and has the potential to continue to grow. Although BKB has been advertised as a would be new sport it is another form of Boxing and specifically a more modernized version of the original form of the sport. Some questions that observers may ask is whether or not bouts fought in BKB will eventually be recognized by Boxing record keepers as official professional fights or if BKB is attempting to establish itself as a league of the sport that is a separate entity, although professional fighters such as Javier Garcia, David Estrada, and Jason Gavern have all now competed in bouts under the BKB format and rules? This again will likely be answered in time as further BKB cards take place. This observer however, does wonder whether BKB will eventually be offered universally to multiple cable and satellite providers or if it will remain exclusive to DirecTV.

Following the first BKB card I commented on the position that BKB might be in and how it was not all unlike the position that the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) found itself  in the early 1990’s when it surfaced here in the United States. Unlike Mixed Martial Arts, BKB may not face as much of a struggle for acceptance in the mainstream. Although BKB is clearly still in it’s formative stages the concept does indeed have potential and I can see it growing in time. The only real questions other than whether or not BKB will eventually be recognized as a form of professional Boxing, are is there a plan going forward to stage a certain number of BKB cards per year and whether or not BKB will be able to expand its audience.

For now, the concept of BKB is making progress and this observer is intrigued to see what happens in the future. Although the concept may not be universally known and even though there may be some who do not enjoy the format or see it’s potential, it can grow. After all, the sport of Mixed Martial Arts was not universally accepted when it debuted in the United States. It simply takes time.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stevenson And Kovalev On A Collision Course?

It has been a truly stellar year for the sport of Boxing. Among several well-matched fights that have taken place this year the spotlight has also shined on rising stars who have become major players in their respective divisions. Two such fighters who have each made a major impact in their division in 2013 are Light-Heavyweight champions Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev.

Both fighters successfully made the transition from top contenders to world champions in 2013. Stevenson, winning the WBC world title by scoring a devastating one punch knockout over longtime division cornerstone Chad Dawson in June of this year, and Kovalev scoring a knockout over previously undefeated WBO world champion Nathan Cleverly in August.

An argument could be made that Stevenson has in some ways received more attention than has Kovalev. This argument could be based on Stevenson after all winning his world title by defeating a fighter in Dawson who had just faced the legendary Bernard Hopkins in two fights. Dawson status as one of the top fighters in the Light-Heavyweight division for several years coupled with his fights against Hopkins and a brief drop down in weight to challenge undefeated Super-Middleweight champion Andre Ward, a man in the upper tier of most pound for pound debates. This certainly drew the attention of the Boxing world and thus all eyes were focused on Dawson when he got in the ring with Stevenson a fighter with a career knockout percentage of over 80%.

A very justifiable argument should be made that Adonis Stevenson became a star in the sport literally with one punch by knocking out Dawson. In his first title defense Stevenson scored a seventh round stoppage in a dominating performance against former IBF Light-Heavyweight world champion Tavoris Cloud. In addition to being former world champions of the Light-Heavyweight division, both Dawson and Cloud were able to garner attention and notoriety by facing Hopkins. Stevenson’s knockout victories immediately placed him as a likely candidate to eventually face off with Hopkins. There is little dispute that although there are five recognized world champions currently in the division, it is Hopkins who due to his legendary status one might argue is the most lucrative fighter the Light-Heavyweight division has to offer. Based on this it is not hard to understand why everyone in the division would not be looking for an opportunity to face Hopkins. One fighter who could have had an opportunity to fight the future Hall of Famer is Sergey Kovalev.

The undefeated Kovalev became the mandatory challenger for Bernard Hopkins after scoring a third round knockout over contender Cornelius White in June of this year. Kovalev however, opted to take what was seen by some to be a gamble by choosing to challenge Nathan Cleverly for the WBO title instead of facing Hopkins. It proved to be a great move for Kovalev who not only dethroned Cleverly, but also raised his name recognition value in the process. Much like Adonis Stevenson Kovalev has a high career knockout percentage of over 70%. Much like Stevenson, Kovalev has the ability to end a fight with one punch.

Although Hopkins clearly has the most marquee value of anyone in the division; the idea of a potential clash between Stevenson and Kovalev is certainly intriguing. A potential clash which may now happen in the near future as Hopkins appears to be at least for the moment entertaining, the thought of dropping down in weight back to the Middleweight division for a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather. The potential Mayweather-Hopkins fight would at least for a brief period leave the Light-Heavyweight division without it’s marquee attraction, but an opportunity for a unification bout which may ultimately determine who will face Hopkins.

The groundwork for a potential Stevenson-Kovalev battle seemed to be laid when the two world champions defended their respective titles on the same card on November 30th in Quebec City, Canada. Kovalev successfully made the first defense of his WBO title by scoring a devastating second round knockout over top contender Ismayl Sillakh. In that fight Kovalev showed his power knocking Sillakh down with a solid right hand and finished Sillakh off with a brutal combination seconds after Sillakh had gotten up from the knockdown. Kovalev’s seek and destroy mentality was on full display in this fight in that once he saw an opening he quickly took Sillakh out.

Following Kovalev’s knockout victory over Sillakh, Stevenson stopped top contender and mandatory challenger Tony Bellew in defense of his WBC title in six rounds. A fight where Stevenson consistently beat Bellew to the punch with his left hand, dropped Bellew with a left hand in round six and finished the “Game” challenger off with a brief barrage of left hands before the fight was stopped.

The performances of both Stevenson and Kovalev have surely set the stage for an intriguing battle of knockout artists if that was indeed the goal of the promoters who staged this card. There are however, other possibilities for both Stevenson and Kovalev if a fight between the two is not in their immediate futures. An obvious possibility could be that the winner of the upcoming Light-Heavyweight fight between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute face either Stevenson or Kovalev. If the potential Stevenson-Kovalev clash is indeed next for both champions, what could result is a scenario that would ultimately be a four-man box off between Stevenson, Kovalev, Pascal, and Bute.

There is no doubt that such a scenario would generate significant attention and interest. Other possibilities that could be presented to either champion could be a potential unification clash with WBA champion Beibut Shumenov, Shumenov is scheduled to defend his world title against undefeated contender Tamas Kovacs on December 14th. Should Shumenov be successful a unification bout for either Stevenson or Kovalev could be attractive if they do not set their sights on each other. One possibility that has not been mentioned is a possible unification bout with the fifth champion of the division Blake Caparello the International Boxing Organization (IBO) champion.

Although not held in high regard by some, the IBO has risen in prominence in the last decade and in the eyes of this observer should be held in the same light along with the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO. Caparello, undefeated in nineteen professional fights who is perhaps not well-known outside of his native Australia, recently captured the vacant IBO title by scoring a twelve round unanimous decision over former top Super-Middleweight contender Allan Green. 

Now as a world champion Caparello would likely welcome the opportunity to face any of the other champions in the division not only to gain more recognition on the world stage of the sport, but also establish credibility among those who may not give him the recognition of a champion. Whether or not Stevenson or Kovalev would be open to facing Caparello at this stage of their respective careers is a question that only they can answer.

An element that should also be taken into consideration is the current political landscape that has dominated much of what has transpired in the sport in recent times. Rival networks and rival promoters at a standoff although all looking to put on the best fights possible, in actuality create almost insurmountable obstacles.  For those whose opinions really matter, the Boxing fans, once again are left out of the equation.

 In terms of fights that look like they might be a solid pay-per-view draw a fight between Stevenson and Kovalev certainly looks as though it would fit the criteria of a fight that Boxing fans worldwide would pay to see. As of this writing there is no foreseeable “Business Roadblocks” that would prevent this fight from happening. 

From a business standpoint it is an interesting dilemma for a promoter or a network to face. On one hand you have two knockout artists, both with exciting styles, each considered rising stars. An Interesting question that will face promoters and a network will be whether or not to put this fight together as soon as possible and assuming that the goal would be to sell this fight as a pay-per-view event to Boxing fans, with the hope of solid returns in terms of pay-per-view revenue. On the other hand, they could continue to grow interest in this fight by having the two fighters face off against top contenders and maybe even the other world champions in the division possibly on the same cards so that a potential pay-per-view clash would be an even bigger draw. 

No matter what happens one thing that is certainly clear is the Light-Heavyweight division in recent times has provided excitement and generated interest. Fighters like Stevenson and Kovalev could eventually be viewed as the cornerstones of what could be a great era for the division. 

Given the exciting styles and punching power of both fighters an eventual pay-per-view showdown is indeed possible and makes sense as a main event of a pay-per-view card. There are only two questions in this observer’s mind. Is it the right place at the right time under the right circumstances for the fight to happen? Will the current political landscape in the sport of Boxing stand in the way of not only this fight, but rather any of the potential bouts that could take place in the division?

Personally I believe that championships should be unified so in actuality there would be simply “One Undisputed World Champion.”  After all, we live in “One World!”

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: