For Brewster, winning is not enough

By Michael Youssef


For Brewster, winning is not enough

Lamon must look good to advance standing

It is almost ironic, that in a heavyweight division filled with mediocre talent and no clear frontrunner, that there are almost as many theories on the poor state of the division as there are contenders fighting in it.

The heavyweight division has been virtually faceless since the departure of Lennox Lewis. Vitali Klitschko was poised to assume the throne, but injuries caused him to abandon the sport for a career in politics.  Now, it is not clear whether the four title holders are even the true leaders of the pack and many in the sport have grown indifferent to the chaos surrounding the division, resigning themselves to a long wait before something historic happens or someone new emerges. Lamon Brewster's chance to step forward is up next, but simply beating Sergei Lyakhovich this Saturday will not be enough if he wants to increase his profile above that of a world title holder.

Following the last big heavyweight showdown, which was supposed to help clear things up, the division is no better or worse than it was before. WBC titleholder Hasim Rahman and James Toney went twelve rounds on March 18 in a bout that was judged to be a draw.

Next up on the schedule is another titleholder, Brewster, who owns the WBO version of the heavyweight cown. Brewster is fighting the grossly inactive Sergei Lyakhovich, this Saturday on Showtime.  Brewster, who has been knocking out most challengers since winning the vacant title against Wladimir Klitschko in 2004, is akin to a tug-boat with the motor running, that goes nowhere because the anchor is dropped. 

Brewster keeps fighting, keeps knocking guys out (usually), but he isn’t making much headway because he’s fighting unknown or undeserving challengers.  The result of Brewster’s subsequent wins is that he is no closer to standing out amongst the crowd than he was after knocking Klitschko out to burst onto the heavyweight landscape.

If Wladimir Klitschko (who along with yet another title holder, IBF belt owner Chris Byrd will be up next on the public’s radar after the Brewster fight), can repeat an earlier victory over Byrd, as most expect, then Brewster, with a previous win over Klitschko, will have the strongest claim as the division’s best fighter.  Again, this is provided that Brewster puts away Lyakhovich, and doesn’t put out the type of performance he did against Kali Meehan, in which he won a disputed decision.

Winning an ugly or controversial fights is not how you want to become the number one guy.  Brewster beat Wladimir Klitschko in an unusual fight, withstanding a ferocious beating until Klitschko collapsed from exhaustion after a couple of medium punches. This is not how fans had hoped things would sort themselves out.  Fans are looking for a fighter, be it Byrd, Brewster, Klitschko, Rahman, or anyone else, to take the number one spot, not systematically fall into it. 

And it is this reason exactly, that Brewster, may still get ignored; he’s fighting unrecognizable heavyweights, and he is forced to look spectacular and hope people see him doing so, or else risk enduring criticism and skepticism about both his performance, and his position in the division.

This is not the case with Byrd and Klitschko, who merely have to win in uncontroversial fashion, to enjoy a big boost in public perception.  The difference between the predicament of Brewster, as opposed to that of either Byrd or Klitschko, is the result of a simple formula. To achieve clarity in any weight clasee, there first needs to be meaningful fights.  Fights that feature boxers who are relevant, and who are players in their division.  The second criteria, is that there needs to be a meaningful or conclusive result of those fights.  Rahman and Toney fulfilled criteria one, but obviously failed to fill criteria two.  Byrd and Klitschko have filled criteria one, and hopefully will fill criteria two.

But Brewster, is unfortunately a different story.  And even more disheartening, Brewster, who himself is not afraid to fight anybody, is the one suffering from his team’s failure to secure big fights for him.  Don King, who promotes, or perhaps, mismanages Brewster, seems content to feed his charge second tier fighters, a characteristic that was commonplace when King controlled most of the heavyweight belts, and never once made a single title unification fight.

Regardless of what the future holds for Brewster, the fact remains that the only real way the division will ever get sorted out is in a ring.  The top fighters need to fight meaningful fights (against fellow top tier fighters), and produce results that are meaningful (have a direct or profound impact on the division).  Lets hope that Brewster’s management gets up enough nerve to allow such a fight to take place.  It should be noted though, that such hopes seem doubtful, especially when one considers the fact that King, who has installed one of his own controlled fighters, Ray Austin, as the mandatory challenger to the winner of the Byrd-Klitschko fight, still wields considerable power in the division.  Having to fight Austin would only retract any progress that either Byrd or Klitschko would make, at the expense of fight fans looking for clarity, while benefiting King’s deep pockets.


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