Weighty Thoughts on the Heavyweights

by Jim Trunzo

A look at the heavyweight division, circa 1996, is -- at first glance -- depressing. It's filled with too many "been there, seen and done that" types who keep popping up on cards fighting no-names or no-talents or both.

However, a closer look indicates that there's light at the end of the division's dark and gloomy tunnel if only the multitude of organizations and pariah-like promoters would let it through.

Once upon a time, for example, a fighter like David Tua would have fought his way up through the ranks much quicker than he's done so far. He would have either established himself, after 25 fights, as either a legitimate contender or a guy with a big punch and little else. Even if he'd have picked up a loss or two along the way to a top ten ranking, so what -- if those losses came against good competition.

As it stands now, Tua continues to slaughter the sheep placed in front of him while his management continues to holler for good opponents whom they have no intention of letting him fight. They don't want to risk a possible title shot by putting Tua against Ray Mercer or Tim Witherspoon or, hell, even against Jorge Luis Gonzales or Jeremy Williams. So we remain intrigued by Tua's dynamic punching but at the same time we know next to nothing about him as a fighter. Nor does the public recognize his name! And there's the shame of it. A slugger like Tua could, like a fellow named Tyson before him, catch the public's eye and call some positive attention to the sport. But Tua's name will have little or no affect on the average sports fan until he fights for a title -- and then only if it's against a Lewis, Bowe or Tyson.

Every now and then one slips through. Like Andrew Golota. It was supposed to be a mismatch, Bowe-Golota. Here was a big crude kid who might push Bowe a little, provide some excitement because he'd be willing to trade punches for a few rounds, and then Bowe would take him out.

Now, off his performance against Bowe - aided unfortunately by the unforgivable riot that took place afterwards, Golota is a name, both in the division and among the sporting public. But it was an accident! If anyone thought that Golota was going to do what he did to Bowe, the match would never have been made; don't kid yourself.

Golota might be something special. Sure Bowe was out of shape. Yes, Bowe is getting hit with shots more now than ever before. Still, among today's heavyweights, Bowe is about as good as it gets -- in shape or out. Here are a few things that were overlooked due to the fight's aftermath and Bowe's lack of conditioning:

  1. Bowe landed a dozen solid shots and Golota barely flinched;
  2. Golota hurt Bowe more than once and would have stopped him had the fight continued;
  3. Golota showed more boxing skills than he's ever been given credit for, including a decent jab;
  4. Golota has a nastiness about him that goes beyond killer instinct. This guy wants to destroy his opponent - and you have to love that in a heavyweight. He must do mantras to "bad intentions."
Besides Tua and Golota, you have to be at least a little impressed with Henry Akinwande. Now nobody is saying that this guy is the next Joe Louis (or even the next Lennox Lewis), but he did an awfully lot right against Jeremy Williams.

Akinwande is an awkward guy to fight. He appears to have decent boxing skills and he may just possess a little more power than one might think. Akinwande's long arms give him tremendous leverage. He appears to need a little more polish but Akinwande wasn't the least bit flustered by William's maniacal rushes. And after he hurt Williams, Akinwande wasted no time finishing him.

Personally, I'd like to see a match up between any of these guys. Even better, I'd like to see Tua, Golota and Akinwande go against some of the old guard. Let's see Tua against Seldon or Golota against Bruno or Akinwande against McCall. Put a revitalized Tim Witherspoon against Bowe or Lewis or Moorer (oh that's right -- Moorer fought once this year. Maybe in late 1997 then!).

Tyson? Well, he could only benefit from the above matches. How much money do you think could be made on a Tyson-Tua slugfest if Tua walked through Lewis, Bruno and McCall the way he's walked through Moe, Larry and Curly? What do you think the interest would be in a Golota-Tyson fight if Golota took Lewis' heart - and I think that he would!

Would Mike Tyson beat Tua, Golota, Akinwande, Witherspoon? Right now you have to say, resoundingly, "yes". But in a year, who knows. For Tyson to continue his climb to all-time greatness, he needs legitimate opponents. Off their last fights, that seems to eliminate Lennox and Riddick (though it won't officially). Who does it leave, if not fighters like the others named. God forbid that Tyson be forced to fight Holyfield or Foreman or McCall!

The heavyweight division isn't as devoid of interesting fights as one might think. The problem is, as in all of boxing, the matches that should be made aren't being made. We're lucky to get one decent heavyweight match in a year when there are a least a dozen combinations begging to be viewed.

Money, greed and power (damnable synonyms for the sport of boxing), not lack of talent, prevent fight fans from receiving the bouts that they deserve. It's like saying, "The Packers and the Cowboys can't be scheduled for a regular season game because they might meet in the play-offs or Super Bowl. Oh, better not let either of them play the 49ers or Steelers either." This scenario isn't conceivable in any sport but boxing.

And so we suffer and try to endure, looking forward to Tyson-Seldon and biding our time with Butterbean versus Mark Gastineau at 2:00 in the morning on the Insomniac Cable Network.

© 1996 The Cyber Boxing Zone
Upcoming Fights Current Champions America Online Newsletter Back to Main Page
8.9.96 [Return to Top]