Big Year For These 5 Heavyweights.
2013 is going to be a big year for boxing in general with some exciting fighters across all weights and classes. Big fights to be made for some big fighters. I've decided to talk about five of the heavyweights I feel will have a big 2013.
Two of them, Tyson Fury and David Price, people will have heard of already, the other 3 however, Lucas Browne, Magomed Abdusalamov and Robert Helenius may not be so familiar to you.
The British born traveller from Manchester has steadily improved himself over his last 4 or 5 fights. In his last two especially Vs Vinny Maddalone (TKO 5th rd) and Kevin Johnson (Unanimous decision), he has shown a real maturity in his boxing style. Where previously he may have gone in swinging wildly when he thought he had a KO in sight he has instead bided his time and been a lot more steady and careful in his approach, drawing the other fighter onto him more, meaning he can use his formidably powerful fists to wear his oppenent down whilst also scoring points. A huge amount of credit needs to be given to his uncle and trainer Peter for this. he has shown Tyson the "errors" and where he could improve and develop and Tyson, to his credit has listened.
At the time of me writing this blog, Tyson is currently being linked with an appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. I sincerely hope this isn't true and is just a ploy by his team to keep him in the headlines. Whilst being on this show wouldn't harm him too much physically, if he was to have one of his infamous rants, would the public turn against him? He is currently a "marmite" sort of boxer and this show could do some damage, although by the same token it will almost certainly enhance his brand immensely with non boxing fans throughout the UK.
Tyson's record is currently 20 fights, 20 wins with 14 by way of KO and he is ranked number 4 in the world by The WBC - (Current Champion is Vitalli Klitschko). TeamFury are currently hoping to fight in New York on St Patrick's Day (17th March) and Tyson has been linked to a lot of top named fighters. A fight against David Price has been turned down, rightly in my view, as it's too soon for them to fight. Frank Warren wants a 4 man tournament involving Fury, Price, Chisora and Haye, which would make a lot of money for Warren but wouldn't bring much credibility to Fury should he win it. He has already beaten Chisora and Haye is now a C list celebrity.
So who should Tyson look for in March?
Fury himself wants to fight Vitali for the WBC belt, however with a lot of uncertainty surrounding Vitali's future in boxing now that he's an MP in the Ukraine parliament I think he may retire with his head held high having lost only twice the last time to Lennox Lewis in 2006.
Fury should, in my opinion, try to re-arrange the fight against Denis Boytsov, who pulled out of a fight with Fury late last year, due to not having enough time to train. Boytsov is ranked in the top 15 of all the 4 main federations - WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF and a win against him in New York would really catapult Fury into the big league and the thinking of the world's promoters, managers and TV stations.
A fight then in the summer vs Vitali or perhaps Chris Arreola for the WBC belt would be massive and would also be a fight I think he would win.
Tyson Fury - World Champion? Not as far fetched as it seemed some 12 months back.
I wish Tyson well...
Price the passionate Liverpudlian has been steadily moving through ex-contenders as he tried to continue his boxing education. However, I wonder what exactly he learnt from knocking Audley Harrison out in 82 seconds or stopping Matt Skelton in the 2nd round? I really can't think of anything that was learned. All that happened was that his power and precision was again underlined, but it is time in my opinion to really step up in class, much the same way his nemesis Tyson Fury has done in recent fights.
Price has a record of 15 fights, 15 wins, with 13 by KO and is currently ranked 9th by the WBC. His next fight is against the very experienced Tony Thompson on 23rd Feb in Liverpool. Thompson is another ex-contender, but with a very good record, something Price's last two opponents have very much lacked. Thompson has a record 39 fights, 36 wins, 24 by KO and 3 losses. His first loss came over points in his 5th fight whilst his other two defeats have come against "The Man", Wladimir Klitschko. He lost to an 11th round KO in 2008 and then in his last fight he lost to a 6th round TKO. Thompson has a very good KO record and will stretch Price further than any other fighter has done in the ring with Price to date.
I expect Price to win by a late stoppage. His power and precision being too much for Thompson. The next move after Thompson is vital in Price's journey towards a world title shot and I'm sure Frank Maloney has thought long and hard about who, when and where will be next.
I know that Team Price think very highly of Kubrat Pulev and would like a fight against him. This would in my opinion make a great match up. Pulev is currently ranked 4th by the WBC. A fight with Pulev in the summer with a shot at the title for the winner in the autumn is not a long shot. With Frand Maloney's contacts and respect (having been Lennox Lewis' manager), within boxing I could see Price fighting for the title in late Nov 2013.
A world title shot for David Price against Tyson Fury in his first defence? - It would not surprise me at all.
I wish David well...
The Nordic Nightmare from Sweden is seen by many boxing commentators as the "next big thing" and is the No1 challenger for the WBO belt, currently held by Wladimir Klitschko, he is also ranked no6 in The Ring Magazine's amalgamated rankings.
He has been in the ring with some very experienced fighters having KO'd 3 former world champions. His win over Derek Chisora however, was deemed a "gift" and a shocking decision by many, myself included. It turned out that Helenius had a bad shoulder injury as well as hurting both hands during the fight with Chisora, which may have led to his "poor" performance. Following surgery he fought again almost 12 months later against journeyman Sherman Williams and was again very poor, being staggered on several occasions by Williams. Helenius seems to have lost a lot of power in both his fists too.
2013 is a massive year for Helenius and one which will either see him living up top the hype or one in which he becomes an also-ran, who is mentioned in dispatches such as Chisora is currently. He is rumoured to be fighting Michael Sprott at the end of March, who is another journeyman but is a big step up from Williamson.
It is imperative that Helenius takes it "easy" in his next couple of fights after his long lay off, but he will be left behind in the division if he doesn't keep busy and steps it up after Sprott, if he wins. It is no certainty that he will beat Sprott. Sprott has had a chequered boxing career, but beat the highly rated 24 year old Edmund Gerber in his last fight by unanimous decision. If Helenius has really lost all his power, especially in his right, then he will struggle against the durable Sprott.
Should he beat Sprott what next?
He will have to keep busy and step it up. A fight against Tony Grano or Odlanier Solis or similiar will have to happen.
Will Helenius live up to the hype and become world champ? - Not in 2013 I don't think.
However, I wish Robert well...
The big Russian living in California is perhaps a new name to many non boxing fans. He is seen by an ever increasing amount of boxing "experts" as the next heavyweight to take the world by storm in a similar way to Mike Tyson, with his power and style.
His management certainly think he is going places and recently offered a "1 dollar" fight to anyone in the top 15 on the WBC rankings to fight Mago, unsurprisingly nobody took up the offer.
"Mago" has a record of 16 fights, 16 wins, ALL by KO, he is currently ranked 10th by the WBC and is the US Heavyweight Champion. He is interested only in fighting and doesn't court the media as well as he might. His last fight was against the former IBF world title challenger Jameel McCline and his speed, skill and ferocious left mean the south paw is certainly heading towards the top.
What lays ahead for him in 2013? Well, it will be difficult. With the power of the Klitschkos on the wane and the possible prospect of retirement for at least one of them, the pack are very careful who they agree to fight. Mago is a dangerous opponent to anyone who steps into the ring with him and he could end or at best, seriously derail many careers.
A fight against Jovo Pudar, who is the Pan Asian Champion and rated 7th by the WBA would be a good stepping stone for Mago and would provide a spring board to get himself in and around the title shots towards the end of 2013.
Title shot for Magomed Abdusalamov in 2013? - I very much hope so, although the powers that be may conspire against this powerful and talented young boxer.
I wish Mago well...
Big Daddy Browne is the Australian with a future as big as his punch. Seen by many as an also ran within his own country and another who will fail to make the crossover from MMA to boxing., he is seen by others however, myself included as a massive, massive talent.
Lucas was due to fight Richard Towers in his last fight in an eliminator to fight for The Commonwealth Title, currently held by David Price. Towers had to pull out with a perforated ear drum sustained in training for the fight and Jason Gavern was brought in as a late replacement. Gavern had previusoly gone the distance with both Steve Cunnigham and Johnathon Banks, but was felled by Browne four times in 3 rounds before the ref stopped the fight.
Browne's record is 14 fights, 14 wins, 13 by KO and is promoted by Hatton Promotions, set up be Ricky Hatton and will be the big star of this stable. He is not yet ranked in the top 15 of either of the 4 main federations, but I fully expect this to change this year. The problem is that Lucas isn't busy enough in my view. He needs to have more fights this year, than the 3 he had last year.
Browne is currently being lined up for a fight with the Samoan Alex "The Lionheart" Leapai, a fight which seems to split opinion in the southern hemisphere for some reason. Browne has far too much power for Leapai who was stopped by Kevin Johnson in the fight before last. The fight looks likely for April, although I would hope this can be pulled forward to March, with other fights in June, September and early December.
Once Lucas has dispatched Leapai he needs to re-arrange the fight with Towers (ranked 14th by the WBC), with a top 10 fight for autumn and perhaps, just perhaps a title shot for December 2013.
Will the biggest outsider of my 5 have a shot at the title in 2013? He has the power and the "look", he now just needs the media exposure. I sincerely hope he gets his shot.
I wish Lucas well.
So that is my view of 5 top heavyweights, who will all have, for slightly differing reasons a big 2013. There are so many other heavyweights out there and the division is certainly not dead, despite what some experts may wish to tell you. One punch could change the whole landscape of the heavyweights and that is why it continues to be one of my favourite weight classes.
I wish you all well for 2013...