Glynn Evans explains why Saturday’s WBA heavyweight title bang-up is well worth a butcher’s.
1) Global Impact
North America and latterly Europe have long dominated big boy boxing so we should cherish the involvement of other continents on the WORLD heavyweight scene.
Saturday’s showdown pitches the only Asian ever to hold a version of the world heavyweight title against a challenger who endeavours to become Australia’s first holder of ‘The Greatest Prize in Sports.’
The fight will take place at the Colosseum Sport Hall in Grozny, capital city of the Chechen Republic. Chagaev, an Uzbek now based in Hamburg, Germany, is a close friend of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel accused of human rights abuses.
To add to the international flavour, the fight shall be televised in the US on the AWE network, while BoxNation deliver live to UK fans, coverage commencing at 7pm.
2) Ruslan’s Ringcraft
With the possible exception of Wlad Klitschko, the misnamed ‘White Tyson’ might just be the most slick and savvy operator in the division.
A 5ft 11in southpaw, Chagaev routinely concedes height and reach to the behemoths of the open class but utilises speed, mobility and an impressive skill set to invariably prevail.
A two time world amateur champion and dual Olympian, only Klitschko and Alex Povetkin have bettered him in a pro innings that spans 19 years and 37 fights.
He has an iron jaw – only Klitschko beat him inside schedule – and while his reflexes and output are beginning to dull, the wily old fox compensates with the nous and cunning developed through participation in seven world title spats.
3) ‘Big Daddy’s’ Brawn
Ok, the man from Auburn, New South Wales isn’t going to win too many dance-offs but at 6ft 5in tall and an increasingly chiselled 18stone, the Ricky Hatton promoted Aussie is a mightily impressive and powerful physical specimen.
Twenty stoppages on his perfect 23 fight slate – including 11 by clean count out – provide testament that Browne has the core strength and innate spite to club opponents unconscious.
Though he fought in the ‘cage’ and dabbled with kickboxing, the blizzard of Oz had no formal amateur experience. But with his fitness levels soaring under guru Rodney Williams, and with Aussie resident Nigel Benn on board to add tactical acumen and incorporate some much needed disguise, Browne is becoming more adept at ensuring his potential fight finishers actually connect.
4) Opposites Attract
Only the naive would view Saturday’s victor as the globe’s premier heavyweight but the pair certainly appear evenly matched and their contrasting attributes suggest we’re in for a fun affair.
Fighting on alien terrain, ‘Big Daddy’ is unlikely to court much love from the judges and therefore has little option but to press the action and seek to extend his impressive stoppage list. He will never get a better chance at global glory; indeed, at 36, this is probably his only chance. Expect him to swing, and swing hard, for as long as he remains vertical.
But Chagaev has a proven track record for negating giants – he schooled 7ft Nikolai Valuev, remember – and has forgotten more than Browne is ever likely to learn. Question is, can he still execute on well worn 37 year old legs?
5) Australian Premier
While the Land Down Under has delivered many outstanding scrappers through history – Les Darcy, Dave Sands, Johnny Famechon, Lionel Rose, Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tzysu spring immediately to mind – this great sporting nation has fallen pitifully short in boxing’s blue riband division.
If triumphant, Browne will be Australia’s first ever heavyweight champion and thus open up a crucial new market to the sport.
Don’t be fooled by the shaven skull and heavily inked frame, the one-time bouncer is among the most amiable and articulate fellas on the planet and would serve as an ideal role model for our sport if he delivers between the ropes this weekend.
6) A Bonafide Contender?
Both principals are in dire need of a marquee victim that will lend credence to a challenge to Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, the men with the meaningful belts.
Chagaev lost clearly against the two best men he has faced –Klitschko and Povetkin – and career high wins over John Ruiz and Valuev occurred way back in the 2006-7 campaign. An emphatic win over Browne would help restore his credibility as a worthy player.
Ignore 44 year old James Toney – outscored over 12 in 2013 – the best scalps on Browne’s card remain unbeatens Richard Towers and Andriy Rudenko, and neither are worthy of consideration at the highest plain.
However, a conclusive win for either on Saturday would merit inclusion to the increasingly riveting heavyweight title shake-up, not to mention the seven figure pay packet that would bring.