November 12th’s bout between Cuban destroyer Luis Ortiz and American Malik Scott continued what has been a very lackluster year for the heavyweight division in boxing.
Between injuries, drama and just plain boring matches heavyweight division in boxing has stagnated in 2016.
The heavy hitters hope to save what’s left of the year in what looks either promising, or just another mirage in the desert.
The year has been terrible, just terrible.
Considering the bizarre unfolding of the Klitschko-Fury saga which resulted in the now-twice cancellation of their rematch.
Fury withdrew and vacated his titles, after injury and then mental health and outside the ring problems.
Klitschko ended up injured himself putting to bed what was supposed to be a thrilling old guard versus new guard title match with British star IBF champion Anthony Joshua.
WBC champ Deontay Wilder had some entertaining matchups this year, albeit not against the caliber of opponent that many hoped.
After knockout victories against Pole Artur Szpilka and Mexican-American Chris Arreola, Wilder himself was injured after defeating the latter in Birmingham, Alabama; hitting the challenger so freakishly hard, as he is known to do, that he had re-broken bones in his hand and tore his bicep.
The “Bronze Bomber” will now be out until early 2017.
Wilder was also involved in the failed attempt to fight Russian gold medalist and expert pressure fighter, Alexander Povetkin.
But alas, it fell through. One can go on and on with this for 2016 if desired.
The pitiful coronation and reign of “Prince” Charles Martin, one of the shortest heavyweight champion stretches in history after being annihilated by Joshua in two rounds.
Martin became the titlist after winning the belt against Ukrainian Vyacheslav Glazkov almost without hitting him as Glazkov suffered a knee injury, in their bout’s third round.
Continuing there has been the absence of Kubrat Pulev, the Bulgarian boxer who has been somewhat of an enigma to boxing fans.
Pulev remains highly respected among die-hard fans, noting sharpened skills, a great jab and some victories over decent opponents, losing only to Wladimir Klitschko.
Simultaneously however, consensus remains that Pulev, while good, is not great.
Having yet to defeat an elite fighter to enter the echelon himself, it was reported that Pulev was on the shortlist to face Joshua in a title defense but backed out over money concerns.
Yes, boxing is a business and one should seek what one is deserved.
Notwithstanding, an relative obscure, talented yes, but obscure fighter refusing a fight against a destined superstar champion highlights one of the many problems within the division.
Bickering before the fight, boring fight itself, repeat.
Well, the eternal optimist that this humble writer is, persistence must be insisted. The year isn’t over yet and there are many things to look forward to even in the last month of this dreary year.
Pulev is set to return against Samuel Peter in a “stay-busy” bout on December 3rd before defending his European title against Mariuz Wach.
While not particularly meaningful, anything could happen, and I’d rather see potentially good fight than no fight at all.
Joshua seeks to continue his perfect record against Eric Molina on December 10th in Manchester Arena. Molina, while not at his best to say the least, isn’t a tomato can either.
Molina has rebounded since getting knocked out against Deontay Wilder, scoring two wins and while still an underdog, could give boxing fans a show as he looks to prove he is still a contender.
Joshua, if victorious, looks to face both Deontay Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 when both boxers return from their injuries.
The Joshua-Molina undercard also contains a English rivalry bout as Dillian Whyte faces off against Dereck Chisora for Whyte’s British heavyweight title.
Luis Ortiz, coming off of his frustrating win in Monte Carlo will make his British debut and second appearance under new promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport.
Fighting the same night, two undefeated fighters, Andy Ruiz and Joseph Parker, duel in Auckland, New Zealand for the recently vacated WBO Heavyweight title.
Both fighters can show both strength and skill as both look for their first world belt in their first real test against top level competition.
Parker’s stablemate, Izuagbe Ugonoh of Poland often fights on Parker’s card.
The undefeated prospect and power puncher and WBO rank will most likely battle another foe as he looks to follow Parker’s path to heavyweight title glory for himself.
This is definitely a fighter to keep an eye on.
Lastly, one more heavyweight bout to keep an eye on as we say farewell to Bernard Hopkins on December 17th in L.A., is the long awaited return of Alexander Povetkin as he faces Bermane Stiverne in Russia.
The bout is a title eliminator with the winner earning a shot against WBC champion Wilder. 2016 isn’t over yet, and as it’s said in the sweet science, it can be one punch that changes everything.
All in all, the heavyweight division in boxing is an intriguing one overall once again if looking on the bright side of things, with a number of interesting fights being talked about for 2017.
Lets hope they happen.