Early this week the boxing world received an early Christmas present. WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko announced that he would be vacating his title to pursue politics in his native Ukraine full time. Klitschko mentioned that he did not expect to fight again but did not formally announce his retirement. In true WBC form, the council promoted him to champion emeritus following his announcement. The title, the second time that Klitschko has been given such honor, would give him the right to immediately challenge for the title at any time he sees fit if he ever returns to the sweet science.
Klitschko’s younger brother, Wladimir, holds the other three major belts in the heavyweight division which is considered the glamour weight class of the sport.
Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way intended as an insult to Klitschko describing his farewell for the time being to the sport as a gift to boxing and its fans. If anything, it is praise. Now with the dominating older Klitschko, who holds a hall of fame record of 45-2, 41 wins before the limit, out of the picture, a number of interesting match ups can be made for the now vacant heavyweight title.
The first one on deck would be a rematch between Haitian Bermane Stiverne (23-3-1, 20KOs) and Mexican-American Chris Arreola. In their first face off back in April, the thirty-five year old Stiverne survived an early onslaught from the outspoken Arreola to knock him down and break his nose in the third en route to a unanimous decision win. Under the Don King banner, Stiverne has not fought since then. Arreola (36-3, 31KOs) redeemed only his third loss of his career by destroying the hyped us football player turned boxer Seth Mitchell in his next fight last September. Mitchell was not able to get out of the first round as Arreola completely annihilated him in a little over two minutes.
As of this writing, Stiverne is ranked #1 and Arreola #2 for the WBC.
#3 is the “Bronze Bomber” Deontay Wilder, Golden Boy Promotions’ claim for the next great heavyweight star. With 30 wins, zero defeats, all wins by knock out, Wilder has not caught the imagination of the casual boxing fan but definitely has made himself a fighter to watch by the committed followers of the sport.
Tall, strong and with power in both fists, Wilder is critiqued for perhaps not fighting the best in the division but he has finished off a number of B level opponents. His last five opponents carried a combined record of 90-29-1, 66KOs, when they faced Wilder and three of them, Nicolai Firtha, former world champ Siarhei Liakhovich and recognized name Audley Harrison, have not fought since.
With the winner of Stiverne vs. Arreola crowned as the new WBC heavyweight champ defending the title against Wilder; we would have two anticipated fights of the likes we have not seen in quite some time in the heftiest division.
New comers to the scene such as the exciting Mike Perez#5, Andy Ruiz Jr#15 and Tyson Fury#8 also have the potential to make tantalizing fights as challengers or between them for higher rankings.
At this point it is up to the WBC to order the fight between Stiverne and Arreola for the vacant title to open the door to the next era of the heavyweight division.