The 2013 year in the heavyweight division will not be one that goes down in the history books as one to remember. In fact, this is one year that some may want to forget. The division does not have a lot of star power and the little that it has wasn’t incredibly active. The championship fights were less than fantastic and the challengers on the rise haven’t turned too many heads. Let’s take a look at the year 2013 for the big men of boxing.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE
Wladmir Klitschko, 61-3, 51 KO’s, the IBO/IBF/WBO/WBA heavyweight champion had two fights in 2013. He battered an overmatched Francesco Pianeta into the canvas in six rounds and dominated the “regular WBA champion” Alexander Povetkin, 26-1, 18 KO’s, for all 12 rounds en route to a unanimous decision. Both fights were unremarkable and uncompetitive. As good as Wlad is, he has not faced a challenge that could test him, making his two defenses fights that are forgotten about as quickly as they are finished.
The other champion, WBC kingpin, Vitali Klitschko, 45-2, 41 KO’s, didn’t fight in 2013 and may never fight again. He was set to face the dangerous Bermane Stiverne, 23-1-1, 20 KO’s, but the fight was pushed back twice and eventually forgotten all together. The WBC crown is now vacant but the writing was on the wall. A fight between Stiverne and top contender Deontay Wilder, 30-0, 30 KO’s, should have been made already for the title. That will probably take place in early to mid 2014.
Tyson Fury, 21-0, 15 KO’s, started the year off with a bang. He pummeled Steve Cunningham into submission on NBC and won a lot of American fans over with his antics. He is likable, cocky, and the kind of personality that the division needs. After the Cunningham victory, Fury signed to fight the prize. The British heavyweight, David Haye, agreed to terms and the two were set to meet, but Haye pulled out, citing a cut. The fight was moved and Haye pulled out again, citing other medical problems. The fact of the matter is that Haye wanted no piece of Fury. He is afraid of bigger fighters. It showed in the Nicolay Valuev fight that he arguably lost and the fight with Wlad that he clearly lost. Fury would have beaten him and that would have further launched the career of Fury, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, Fury sat on the sidelines and he will be facing a long layoff as he goes into his next fight.
Seth Mitchell, 26-2-1, 19 KO’s, a heavyweight that was highly hyped and given several fights on the premium channels, was exposed this year in one round by Chris Arreola, 36-3, 31 KO’s. Arreola, another American heavyweight, had a lackluster year as well. Although he defeated Mitchell in style, he lost badly to Bermane Stiverne. All hope is not lost for Arreola. When he’s in condition, which is rare, he presents a big challenge for any heavyweight, including Wlad.
A heavyweight that is getting a lot of hype is Deontay Wilder and with good reason. He is knocking out every opponent with style and early. He had three fights in 2013, including knockout wins over known opponents in Audley Harrison (KO-1), Sergei Liakhovich (KO-1) and a win over journeyman, Nicolai Firtha (KO-4). Wilder is being groomed to be champion, but he still has a lot to prove. A win over Stiverne would prove a lot.
Bryant Jennings, 17-0, 9 KO’s, had only one fight in 2013. That’s not good for a rising heavyweight hopeful. He beat the lightly regarded, Andrey Fedosov, and is set to fight next month, but he is not knocking on any Klitschko door at this point. Another American heavyweight that is making his move is 41-year-old, Amir Mansour, 20-0, 15 KO’s. In 2013, he had four fights, but the list of opposition is questionable at best. Mansour, at his age, is in a “now or never” time in his career. Time is not on his side.
2013 proved to be the last year for Tony Thompson, 38-4, 26 KO’s, to be seriously considered. He scored back to back knockout wins over British heavyweight contender, David Price, 15-2, 13 KO’s, put him back into the mix, but a lackluster decision loss to Kubrat Pulev, 19-0, 10 KO’s, proved that father time had caught up with Thompson.
The glory years of American heavyweight boxing are behind us it seems.
The year has been a mixed bag for the top contenders. Kubrat Pulev scored a great win over Tony Thompson, but he followed it up with a victory over the overmatched Joey Abell. He may be freezing the ball and waiting for the shot at Wlad. All in all, the win over Thompson was a good one, but Abell seems to be a step back.
Dereck Chisora, 19-4, 13 KO’s, earned his way back into the top ten with four straight knockout wins. Three of the four was over top 15 rated opposition. His brash personality, activity, and aggression are once again making him a ticket in boxing and 2014 looks like the year where he will get another crack at the title.
Bermane Stiverne only had one fight and it’s a shame. He dominated highly rated contender, Chris Arreola, and was in line to take on Vitali Klitschko, but the champion kept pushing it back and kept Stiverne on the shelf. With the title vacant, we may see a rusty Stiverne in there with the fast-starting power-puncher, Wilder. That’s not a good scenario for Stiverne who was a live dog against Vitali and Vitali probably knew that and is why the fight did not happen.
Robert Helenius, 19-0, 11 KO’s, is once again his worst enemy. In 2011, he had three fights, including knockouts of former champions Samuel Peter and Sergei Liakhovich, followed up by a win over Dereck Chisora. In 2012, he had one fight against journeyman, Sherman Williams (UD-10) and this year, he fought another journeyman, Michael Sprott (UD-10). It’s been two fights in two years for this guy that was once on the fast track to be the heavyweight champion.
Tomasz Adamek, 49-2, 29 KO’s, is still lingering around, although I hesitate to put him into the top contenders category. His only fight in 2013 was an ugly decision win over Dominick Guinn. Adamek is getting up there in years and not performing very well. It’s only a matter of time before a true big man starches him.
Boxing under the radar is Manuel Charr, 25-1, 15 KO’s, and he is another guy that has been disappointed by David Haye. Haye agreed to fight him and then backed out. Charr moved on and had three fights in 2013 and has won them all by knockout. Considering his only title shot was a loss on cuts in a fight that he was competitive, it’s not out of the question that he may be launched back into another crack.
Despite an obvious slurring of words, former middleweight, light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion, James Toney, 76-9-3, 46 KO’s, still fights on. There has to be genuine concern that the 45-year-old that is exhibiting signs of brain damage could get seriously hurt if he steps into the ring again. Antonio Tarver, 30-6, 21 KO’s, the former light heavyweight champion, is trying his luck at heavyweight. Although he doesn’t have the problems that Toney apparently has, he is also 45-years-old and is easier to hit. Facing the monsters the division has to offer, it may be a good idea to back away quickly.
Despite his recent win over undefeated David Rodriguez, Darnell Wilson, 25-17-3, 21 KO’s, has been taking a lot of abuse of late. He’s lost five of his last six, three of which by knockout. He did go 1-1 this year, but he is a guy that should probably give up the sport before it catches up with him.
With 2013 being a mediocre year for heavyweight boxing, we can only go up and we will. With Vitali gone, that opens up the division somewhat and opens up the bout between Stiverne and Wilder. The winner of that will take the WBC crown and becomes the logical opponent for Wladimir, who wouldn’t mind picking up another title. It’s also possible that Vitali returns to take on the winner.
Look for Tyson Fury to get back on track. His announcement of retirement can be dismissed. He will be back in the ring again and making the headlines again. Look for the workhorses of the division in Charr and Chisora to continue fighting regularly and getting bigger opportunities along the way. Other fighters like Mike Perez, 20-0, 12 KO’s, Lucas Browne, 19-0, 17 KO’s, and Andy Ruiz, JR., 21-0, 15 KO’s, to make it interesting.
There is potential for 2014 to be a better year for heavyweight boxing. We should start to see some things sorted out and some interesting matches made. Keep your fingers crossed.