The ‘World Heavyweight Championship’.
At one time the most prestigious sports title in the world. The heavyweight belt used to signify the king among the warriors of boxing. But now, in this era of the sport, that isn’t the case.
The quality of fighters in the heavyweight division has been on a decline in the past decade and a half with the exception of a select few who have carved their names in the history of boxing.
This Saturday, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a resurgence of power will hopefully run through and awaken the slumbering division when Deontay Wilder (32-0 32 KO) challenges Bermane Stiverne (24-1 21 KO) for the WBC heavyweight title.
This is one of the most exciting match-ups for the heavyweight division in the past few years. Wilder’s perfect win to KO ratio shows he’s not one to fight slowly and not go after his opponent.
Stiverne on the other hand is smart, talented, and has the ability to stand and trade with most in his division- especially if he can get inside.
I’m truly excited for the fight this Saturday and in anticipation of this I made a list of my top five Heavyweight fights of the 21st century. Take a look.
5. Hasim Rahman vs Lennox Lewis-
Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis met on April 22, 2001 with Lewis’ undisputed heavyweight title on the line. Lewis, who at that point had not lost for seven years, tried to coast to an easy win. Overlooking and underestimating Rahman. The fight stayed close through five rounds with some back and forth action and resulted in Rahman knocking out Lewis in the fifth round with a right hand out of no where to become the new undisputed heavyweight champion. It gave Lewis only his second and last loss of his career.
4. Chris Arreola vs Bermane Stiverne
On April 27 2013, Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne met in a fight that showed the world how good Stiverne really could be.
The fight started at a good pace and showed Arreola being knocked down for only the second time in his career in the last second of the third round.
Arreola kept constant pressure trying to win rounds after the knock down and showed flashes of success landing good combos in the sixth round.
The fight ended with a slug-fest in the first minute of the last round with Stiverne taking Arreola the distance to get the unanimous decision win. A good fight with good action throughout.
3. Steve Cunningham vs Amir Mansour
Steve Cunningham vs Amir Mansour took place April 4, 2014, and was one of the fastest paced heavyweight fights I’ve seen in recent years.
The fight started with Cunningham throwing shots from the outside trying to find his range and Mansour throwing hard punches from the inside. Every punch Mansour threw had the intent of sending Cunningham home early.
Mansour almost got his KO win when he floored Cunningham twice in the fifth. Both were knock downs that would’ve put most people to sleep. Cunningham survived and through his superior boxing won many of the later rounds even knocking Mansour down in the tenth to get the unanimous decision win.
2. Vitali Klitschko vs Lennox Lewis
On June 21, 2003 Vitali Klitschko was given the opportunity to fight Lennox Lewis. Klitschko came in the underdog and many questioned his heart after his last loss came by way of him quitting citing a shoulder injury as the reason.
In this fight Klitschko had everything but quit in him as he dominated the earlier rounds and was even able to wobble Lewis. Klitschko forced Lewis into a brawl which was unlikely considering their size. After a few rounds of back and forth exchanges Lewis opened a disturbing cut above Klitschkos left eye in the third round which would later require sixty stitches. Klitschko proved his heart by battling with a severely cut eye for three more rounds until the doctor called the fight off after the sixth giving Lewis the TKO victory. After the fight Lennox Lewis went into retirement.
1. Lamon Brewster vs Sergei Liakhovich
My #1 heavyweight of the the 21st century was just as much of a slug-fest as Cunningham vs Mansour, if not more.
Sergei spent the first round slow trying to find range and feel out Brewster. The fights pace soon changed as they both started throwing and connecting on hard shots. They kept this pace throughout the fight. Both men refused to back down and were fighting like they were trying to prove something.
The pace got to Liakhovich in the fifth where it seemed the constant pressure from Brewster was starting to break him down.
Liakhovich came back later in the round to land hard shots of his own. Brewster found more success in the seventh when he knocked down Liakhovich with bombs to the head and body.
Liakhovich who was winning most of the early rounds through his boxing finally made his power felt when he hurt and almost knocked Brewster down in the ninth with a powerful barrage of punches.
Both men were able to finish the fight on their feet with Liakhovich getting the unanimous decision win.
Those were my top five heavyweight fights of the 21st century.
One can only hope this Saturday’s brawl between Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne will show the same action and intensity.
Both men have something to prove to the boxing world as individuals but also have something to prove to the boxing world as a whole.
Lets hope these two fighters show that the heavyweight division is back and out of its slump.
Tune in to SHOtime this Saturday to see these warriors go head to head and to see the possible future of heavyweight boxing.