Vitali Klitschko vs. Dereck Chisora: 5 Next Possible Opponents for Klitschko
On Saturday, February 18, Vitali Klitschko and Dereck Chisora fought for Klitschko's WBC heavyweight championship in front of a packed crowd in Munich, Germany. It was an exciting fight, with the challenger Chisora fighting aggressively and pressing the action, forcing the 40-year-old Klitschko to brawl and exchange.
For reasons I will never understand, it was not broadcast in the United States. This is a tremendous loss for American boxing fans, who missed not only an extremely relevant fight in the heavyweight division, but an exciting one as well.
By now, you can find various German and Russian language uploads on YouTube.
Klitschko, as usual, looked like a nimble giant, using his reach and footwork to steadily pound the always-pressing-forward Chisora. He never really seemed in danger of losing. In what is now developing as among the most dominant heavyweight careers of all time, he once more barely lost a round.
At 40 years old, the elder Klitschko brother is quite likely reaching the end of his career. If he does want to fight again, potentially interesting opponents are in short supply.
Robert Helenius, 17(11)-0, who beat Chisora on a contested split decision last December, would seem to be an obvious potential candidate for either of the Klitschko brothers. At over 6'6" tall, he has the size to compete with the brothers and, although he lacks in professional experience, he is well coached.
During the HBO broadcast of the Vitali Klitschko-Tomasz Adamek fight last September, Max Kellerman identified Helenius as the heavyweight with the best shot to compete with the Klitschkos.
Helenius barely beat Chisora. In fact, a lot of people don't think he really did. And Klitschko beat Chisora easily.
Nevertheless, Vitali Klitschko and Robert Helenius is an entirely separate fight. I would expect the rugged and far more experienced champion to prevail, but there is no question he would be pushed to fight a different sort of fight that he has needed to fight recently.
This one seems obvious. Tyson Fury, 17(12)-0, is the former Commonwealth (British Empire) Heavyweight Champion, a title he won by beating Chisora in a manner fairly similar to the way Klitschko handled Del Boy last night.
At 6'9" tall, Fury would put Klitschko in the unfamiliar position of fighting a larger man. Fury seemed to have more problems with Chisora's power than Klitschko did, and Chisora came into that fight 20 pounds overweight.
But it was still an impressive performance for Fury, perhaps made more impressive by Chisora's subsequent turns against Helenius and Klitschko. Since that fight, he has TKO'd journeyman Nicolai Firtha in five and fellow undefeated prospect Neven Pajkic in three.
Fury is a fighter who really seems to get better as his career develops. Sooner or later, he will need to step up and have a go at one of the Klitschko brothers.
On paper, Alexander Povetkin, 23(16)-0, is himself a "world champion," holding the WBA trinket. But this is, of course, farcical.
Povetkin won the vacant WBA title by defeating Ruslan Chagaev last August. The WBA title became vacant because the WBA decided to make their current WBA champion, Wladamir Klitschko, the "Super" WBA champion.
So now Povetkin is a world champion, too, according the the WBA. Although, even according to them, he is only a kind of 1-AA champion.
What is not farcical is the idea that Povetkin truly is among the most talented heavyweights not named Klitschko. That means, sooner or later, his number should come up in the "Fight the Klitschkos" sweepstakes.
Povetkin has always been a very carefully handled product. I am inclined to think his people would be more likely to match him against younger brother Wladi than the more brawling and aggressive Vitali.
Wladimir has the better jab, and trying to finesse that jab and avoid the big overhand right while moving into range would be no small puzzle for Povetkin. But it is a more straightforward problem than Vitali's multi-angled attack.
Against Vitali, I think the fight would be very similar to Klitschko's 10th-round TKO of Tomasz Adamek. Povetkin also has a fight to win against cruiserweight champion Marco Huck later this month before he can start thinking about who to fight next.
It is probably premature to talk about Seth Mitchell, 24(18)-0, fighting for a world title. The former All-American linebacker at Michigan State has been increasingly impressive as he has run through a string of second-rate talent, but he has yet to record a win against a relevant opponent.
He has the athletic ability you would expect from somebody with his football pedigree, but he shows solid boxing skills, too, and a first-rate offensive game.
How he would handle real, deep-water pressure from a world-class opponent remains to be seen.
So I'm not saying put Seth Mitchell in the ring with Vitali Klitschko—not just yet. But the heavyweight championship has become a non-entity in the United States and Mitchell is possibly the best bet for turning that around.
It's possible he has the kind of ability that just isn't going to find stiff enough competition to challenge him until he advances up to the highest levels. It's time to at least start stepping up his competition, with an eye on the big prize not too far down the road.
Mike Perez, 18(12)-0, is an exciting Cuban-born fighter who emigrated to Ireland and now fights as "The Pride of County Cork," winning an enthusiastic backing from his new countrymen and women.
Perez, listed generously on boxrec.com as 6'0", has been compared favorably to a young Mike Tyson. I think it is an imprecise comparison, but Perez does attack like a two-fisted whirlwind, employing his short stature as a tactical advantage.
I think Perez could give Vitali Klitschko problems when he moves backwards, just like Chisora managed to do at times. I believe that Perez attacks more explosively than Chisora.
If the Klitschko brothers are down to giving guys with less than 20 professional fights world title shots, then Mike Perez is one of the best potential candidates.