On Saturday June 20, heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko will defend his titles (IBF, WBO, IBO) against unbeaten heavyweight Ruslan Chagaev. Chagaev is coming in as a replacement for the injured David Haye. Chagaev’s previous fight with Nikolay Valuev was also cancelled after Ruslan failed to comply with the Finnish medical rules. The contest will be for the vacant Ring heavyweight championship. Who will emerge as the best heavyweight in the world?
Meet the Fighters
52 (46) – 3
Height: 6’6” Reach 81”
IBF and WBO Heavyweight Champion
25 (17) – 0 -1
Height: 6’1” Reach: 74”
Former WBA Heavyweight Champion
Klitschko vs Chagaev Preview
The Klitschko-Chagaev matchup is unusual in that the replacement fighter is more accomplished than the original opponent. Haye is a former cruiserweight champion who has fought over the cruiserweight limit of 200 lbs only four times. Chagaev is the WBA Heavyweight champion in recess and holds an undefeated record after campaigning at heavyweight for his entire career. Plus, Chagaev is a southpaw, and Klitschko has been preparing for an orthodox fighter in Haye.
However, the public at large is not giving Ruslan Chagaev much of a chance against Klitschko. Many are predicting that Chagaev will be beaten easily as Wladamir cruised against former world champion Sultan Ibragimov in a one-sided 12 round decision. But it would be unwise to discount his chances entirely. Most American fight fans have not even gotten a chance to see him fight.
He may not talk the game of David Haye, but he is the number 3 heavyweight in the world, he’s never lost before and he’s hungry to topple the division’s best. Chagaev’s chin will also allow him to stick around a lot more than many of Wladimir’s previous opponents. He is a slick fighter with plenty of stamina to possibly elude Klitschko’s devastating stiff jabs while landing his own crisp, hard shots in return.
Klitschko recently earned a technical knockout over former world champion Hasim Rahman. Klitschko is a hard worker with great technical skills but has many questions surrounding his reign as champion. Many question his heart, his chin and his mentality in the ring, as despite his huge physical advantages he is not very aggressive. Most of his fights start off the same way, always leading with the pawing jab. Interesting enough these same tactics are similar to Chagaev who previously beat then undefeated Nikolay Valuev. Chagaev was able to overcome the height deficit and land the cleaner shots.
Klitschko vs Chagaev Prediction
Wladimir Klitschko will start off in normal fashion establishing his jab in the early rounds. Look for Chagaev to find his openings, and then work from the outside. Ruslan Chagaev is very good at keeping his opponents off balance and striking with two sometimes even three punch combinations. Both fighters have very good footwork, but Chagaev’s will prove to be better as he edges out Klitschko to the punch.
The question is if Klitschko will be able to respond to some diversity and rise to the challenge, or will he crumble against the top challenger he has faced in quite some time? Klitschko was geared up for a major grudge match, so it must also be asked if he is mentally prepared for the replacement fight. Look for Klitschko to rebound after losing some of the middle rounds to come on in the second half of the fight, landing hard power punches set up by his jab.
Klitschko will take the unanimous decision and could possibly score a knock out in the late rounds, but look for Ruslan Chagaev to make it an interesting fight stinging when the opportunity presents. Chagaev has a better chance at an upset than anybody has had recently against Klitschko.