Chagaev vs. Ibragimov
By Sam Bevington: In one of the first boxing heavyweight unifications bouts in ages, WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (23-0, 17 KOs) will meet up with Sultan Ibragimov (21-0, 17 KOs), the WBO heavyweight champion, on October 13, 2007, in Moscow, Russian. Both fighters have recently won their titles, and neither of them have much of a following in the United States or the world, for that matter. In terms of talent, both Ibragimov and Chagaev have to be considered two of the weakest heavyweight champions in memory, at least as far as I can recall.
Ibragimov, 32, won his title over Shannon Briggs, winning a 12-round unanimous decision on June 2, 2007, in a fight in which Briggs threw very few punches. It wasn’t the case of Ibagimov looking good, but more so that Briggs appeared to be battling health problems during the bout, and had problems breathing. Rather than taking advantage of Brigg’s immobility and punishing him, Ibragimov mostly stayed on the outside and threw jabs, and looking very timid. As for Chagaev, he won the WBA title in April 2007, beating Nikolay Valuev by majority decision. However, it appeared that Chagaev, in fact, lost the fight, as was the case in his fight with John Ruiz in November 2006, where Chagaev won a 12-round split decision.
Clearly both Ibragimov and Chagaev are several rungs down the latter from Oleg Maskaev, the WBC heavyweight champion and Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF champion. More than, however, there are a number of heavyweight challengers out there that are better, in my opinion, than Chagaev and Ibragimov. For example, Alexander Dimitrenko, Tony Thompson, Samuel Peter, Hasim Rahman, Nikolay Valuev, Calvin Brock, and Sergei Liakhovich, which is why Chagaev and Ibragimov probably decided they were better off facing each other than being beaten by one of the talented challengers.
In terms of who the better fighter is, I think Chagaev has the better offensive skills and the aggression to get the win. He’ll apply a lot of pressure early on, stalking Ibragimov and corning him against the ropes where he’ll be able to land well. I don’t a see a knockout scenario, however, mostly because Ibragimov will choose to run like he did against Briggs, which will spare him from being knocked out. None the less, Chagaev will win by unanimous decision and move forward with both titles.