Potential Non-Title Heavyweight Classics
By Sina Latif
In February 1965, one of the most memorable heavyweight fights of all time took place between Floyd Patterson and George Chuvalo, with no titles on the line.
The pair would go to battle at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year.
Some styles are just made for each other, and will always gel to create great fights.
With Patterson and Chuvalo, fight fans got to witness this classic with contrasting styles. Chuvalo, the aggressive puncher, versus Patterson, the boxer with speed who is more than willing to fight on the inside.
Along with a good clash of styles, when there is a lot at stake, unforgettable battles are almost certainly on the cards. Muhammad Ali had promised the winner of this absorbing duel of top contenders a shot at his world title.
Patterson and Chuvalo showed that heavyweight classics can still happen when no titles are on the line, and we just aren’t witnessing enough top contenders fighting each other today.
However, it appears that in the coming months, two exciting heavyweight non-title fights are on the horizon in Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin.
I will be looking at these two non-title fights, both of which I think could potentially be great fights that can add to the glamorous history of the blue-ribbon division. This era can have real classics, and when all is said and done, in decades and centuries to come, perhaps the brilliant action that occurred inside the ring will supersede what was at stake in terms of titles. Fans just want to witness great fights.
Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora
Total contrast in styles and with Usyk being Anthony Joshua’s WBO mandatory, the winner of this fight would be likely to fight the winner of Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev for three major belts, therefore a lot would be at stake.
Usyk is a fighter who takes his time in the early rounds, downloading data and sizing up his opponent, then starts bringing in the jabs and feints before breaking down the opponent with precise punches and getting them out of there once they are weakened. Chisora is a seek-and-destroy fighter from the first bell until the end of the fight. He is relentless.
Particularly in the early rounds, this fight could be very competitive and interesting. However, can a seek-and-destroy method of trying to land brutal blows on a fighter who has such exceptional footwork like Usyk, be effective?
With that phenomenal footwork, Usyk has the ability to constantly pressurise his opponent with minimal movements and small adjustments, before taking out the opponent who feels the pressure in the later rounds. Can the ageing legs of Chisora deal with this pressure?
Usyk has a great boxing brain, which helped him to become undisputed cruiserweight champion, the first man to hold all four major titles in the 200-pound division prior to moving up, and moves exceptionally well for a big man, displaying Vasily Lomachenko-esque angles.
The supremely skilled southpaw has established himself as the greatest cruiserweight of all time alongside the great Evander Holyfield and now wants to earn boxing immortality by joining his predecessor in ruling the heavyweight division.
This fight against Chisora has significance in determining whether Usyk has what it takes to subsequently challenge the crème de la crème of the big boys division, especially a potential historic fight against Joshua, the clash of the unified heavyweight champion against the former undisputed king.
One thing truly matters in the heavyweight division and that is something that Chisora can put to the test. How well can Usyk take one on the chin from a fully-fledged heavyweight?
As they say, “It only takes one punch in the heavyweight division.”
Chisora possesses power, and it would be interesting to see how Usyk reacts if he got caught on the chin by ‘Del-Boy’.
A real potential classic that is looking close to being finalised. Fans would be in for a treat!
Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin
This is a great fight that perfectly epitomises the topic of this article.
The styles will make for an exciting fight and victory is an absolute must for both fighters. Neither can afford to lose or even draw.
Whyte is in position as WBC mandatory challenger to face the winner of Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury by no later than February 2021, and in this risky fight, that mandatory position is on the line. The winner would be in position to challenge for the WBC title.
Povetkin is nearing the exit door of his career, but the veteran has faced many different styles and still has a lot to offer. Even at 40, the Russian is undoubtedly a top-10 heavyweight.
For a man who only started boxing at age 20 and had seven amateur fights, Whyte has already gained valuable experience and possesses real power, especially with his devastating left hook.
For all of Povetkin’s experience, Whyte has no problem facing and beating men with significantly more experience. One of Whyte’s most recent opponents, Oscar Rivas, had a lengthy amateur career, having defeated former unified champion Andy Ruiz Jr and represented Columbia in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, defeating Kubrat Pulev.
Povetkin’s superior experience is vast, both in his amateur career, as an Olympic gold medalist, and professional career, as a former world champion with more fights than Whyte.
Furthermore, the experienced pugilist also possesses power in his own right. ‘Sasha’ has a thunderous left hook of his own which has knocked opponents out cold, most recently against another British heavyweight in David Price. Whyte has never faced a man who punches as hard as Povetkin.
“The Body Snatcher” cannot be judged based on his last performance against Mariusz Wach, fighting the Pole at short notice with no training camp after being left in the wilderness with all of the uncertainty surrounding the drugs controversy after the Rivas victory.
This fight will certainly bring out the best in both men, with both fighters aware that they must turn up in premium shape to stand a chance of being victorious.
It could start as a cagey affair, with neither man affording to lose and aware that the opponent carries serious power. Once both fighters have warmed up and start letting their hands go, there will be absolute fireworks and this fight can live long in the memory as a real heavyweight classic with no titles necessarily required to produce something special.