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The Paper Champion’s guide to avoiding unification! Ibragimov vs Chagaev in perspective!

By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: Recently I had the utter displeasure of reading Chris Byrd’s comments regarding how the October 13 unification bout is basically useless. Seeing as during Byrd’s paper title reign I felt he was the worst of the so called “titleholders,” it was my duty to provide a response to those comments, by putting together this little convenient step-by-step guide to what he, as well as others, have IN MY PERSONAL VIEW managed to do during their campaigns.

    1. Find the weakest titleholder to beat in the current division.
    2. On the very next day after the win make a press release claiming you wish to unify the belts against any of the other champions, without providing any concrete details whatsoever. (Don’t ever name names because that will make people think those guys are better then you and can therefore ask for more money in negotiations.)
    3. After your first voluntary defense, against a complete journeyman at best, avoid any questions regarding unification during post-fight interviews, with winning responses like “Anyone who wishes to step up to the plate,” or “Whoever the public wants me to fight.” In the worst case you can also mention how, “I would love to do it but it depends on my manager and promoter.”
    4. Stall for time, or ask for too much money when, or on the off chance another paper champ offers to fight you. Mandatory excuse upcoming.
    5. Fight your mandatory. Most likely a hand picked opponent not much different from your first voluntary defense.
    6. Repeat steps 2-4 to stall for more time.
    7. Make up a bunch of reasons for why it is your promoter’s fault and how you are still the best in the division and would fight anybody.
    8. Claim you have beaten anybody put in front of you and therefore deserve to be recognized as the one true champ.
    9. If are actually using reason 7 for a prolonged period of time, claim how you are the longest reigning champion who has held a belt.
    10. Repeat steps 2-9 as necessary until you get KO’ed badly by a real fighter.
    11. Make sure to inadvertently get on your conqueror’s bandwagon and make him out to be goliath and thereby you the second best in the division.
    12. If you wait long enough you can go back to step 1, and repeat the cycle all over again.

For 8 years there have been virtually dozens of faceless titleholders who have used these or similarly vague reasons to earn a living, and keep winning. The belt was a meal ticket for them and their promoter and was used as justification for doing anything that felt warranted. The public clamored for unification. I begged Ruiz and Byrd to fight for the sake of the sport (, even if it was not a commercially viable option for either them or their promoter. Now that somebody comes along and does something the public actually likes, all these little former paper champs come out of the woodwork to claim it means nothing?

Lampley doesn’t know the name of the guys who are saving the sport for him, Klitschko, and all the rest, while Byrd claims they are nobodies so it won’t matter. Well fellas when Byrd was a nobody he chose to stay there, while as soon as Ruslan and Sultan became champions they chose to do something about it. In fact this is the only type of statements that guy can make so I waste time even discussing him in the same breath as Sultan Ibragimov and Ruslan Chagaev.

Imagine for a second that Chris Byrd gets a voluntary shot at the winner of this bout. Will he claim he does not want it and it means nothing to him, and that the belts he might win are useless and he will throw them in the trash? Anybody who does not understand, or appreciate the value of a unification bout is at this point simply helping perpetuate the cycle of fractionalization, and worthless paper champions. It would be nice to hear Sergei Lyakhovich, and his manager, Ivailo Gotzev, to come out with a press release that, instead of making a formal challenge, and announcing the standard buck that we have heard for 8 years, says, “We welcome Chagaev vs Ibragimov unification. We think this helps boxing and would love to support them and possibly get a shot at the winner.” That is what I expected to hear from Wladimir Klitschko on the 7th. That is what I expected to hear from Rappaport, and King, and Sauerland and all the other promoters who couldn’t accomplish what Ruslan and Sultan have in a matter of days not years!

The readers on this site think that because I support Sultan Ibragimov that I somehow believe he is the best and most talented fighter in the division. As the fights come I will speak more on this, but right now I just want to point out that this is not the case, and that even so, it does not matter one iota. If Sultan gets starched in 1 round against Ruslan Chagaev it won’t change the type of person that he is in real life. It won’t change the fact that it took all of less then 1 month for he and his team to do something the biggest promoters in boxing couldn’t do for 8 goddamned years.

I really believed it was hilarious that there would be some who would shrug this fight off as insignificant, but that is precisely what seems to be happening. Either people are still in shock that somebody at heavyweight is doing something, or they just don’t care. As I said in my previous article, “What is then the point of other fighters doing something similarly worthwhile?”

Upcoming: Still working on the Wlad is the new Ali material. Keep waiting Wladimir fans it will be here.

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