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Chagaev vs. Oquendo for vacant WBA heavyweight title this Sunday, July 7th in Grozny, Russia

Fres Oquendo Ruslan ChagaevBy Allan Fox: This Sunday, 35-year-old former WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (32-2-1, 20 KO’s) will be trying to become a 2-time world champion when he faces 41-year-old Fres Oquendo (37-7, 24 KOs) for the vacant WBA World heavyweight title at the Ahmat Arena in Grozny, Russia. The venue is perfect for the southpaw Chagaev, nicknamed “White Tyson, to try and capture another world title.

The WBA has Chagaev ranked #3 by their organization and Oquendo #4. It’s kind of controversial, because it’s difficult to picture either of them beating the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin, all of which are for some reason ranked below them in the WBA’s rankings.

What the WBA has in this title is set up a situation where the winner of the Chagaev-Oquendo fight won’t be seen as a legitimate world champion in the eyes of many boxing fans, because neither fighter has beaten a big name in many years. Chagaev’s last big win was against Kali Meehan in 2010, if you want to call that a big win. Oquendo has never beaten a big name before, but he has lost to them in defeats against David Tua, Oliver McCall, James Toney, Evander Holyfield, John Ruiz and Chris Byrd.

Oquendo has won his last 5 fights since a loss to McCall in 2010. He’s beaten Travis Fulton, Joey Abell, Robert Hawkins, Derric Rossy, and Galen Brown. Those are formidable heavyweights, and it’s unfortunate that he didn’t beat a big name to get this title shot. But Chagaev hasn’t beaten anyone of real quality either in defeating Jovo Pudar, Mike Sheppard, Werner Kreiskott, Billy Zumbrun and Kertson Manswell in his last 5 fights. Those are tune-up quality heavyweights for the most part, and not the type that you would think would earn someone a heavyweight title shot.

Chagaev beat WBA heavyweight title holder Nikolay Valuev by a 12 round majority decision in April 2007 to win the title. However, Chagaev was only able to defend the title a total of two times in the two years that held the WBA title in beating Matt Skelton and Carl David Drummond. It was a less than impressive stint as the champion for Chagaev, because he no one of note, and he never fought Valuev again. That would have been a great rematch had the two of them fought a second time. Chagaev eventually given the title of WBA Champion in Recess in July of 2008, and then stripped of that title a year later in July of 2009.

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