It’s fair to say that many boxing fans aren’t exactly enthralled by the heavyweight division right now.
Wladimir Klitschko, the ruler of the division, holder of three of the recognised world titles, RING and TBRB champion, may well be an excellent boxer and he may be able to pack stadiums and bring in huge TV ratings but outside of his powerbase in Continental Europe there is a certain wave of antipathy that greets that the announcement of an upcoming bout. As things stand he is head and shoulders… literally and figuratively… above most of those who wish to challenge him and it would take a very brave or very foolish man to believe that his latest challenger, Australian, Alex Leapai, will be anything but overmatched. Now, there can be a certain joy… albeit a perverse and sadistic one… in watching an overmatched opponent be defeated in boxing but Wladimir’s current style, a triumph of effectiveness over emotion, robs most bouts of even that. His last victory, a one-sided decision over Alexander Povetkin, may have featured four knockdowns and some of the most one-sided scorecards I can recall seeing but it also featured 160 clinches, almost all initiated by the Ukrainian champion and the reaction from most fans in the English-speaking world fell somewhere between ambivalence and outright hostility. Put simply, people want there to be a boxer… any boxer… who can challenge Wladimir and actually stand a chance.
Some thought Haye could… he couldn’t.
Some thought Povetkin could… he couldn’t.
No-one thinks Leapai can… and I doubt he will.
But Odlanier Solis just might… and this weekend he has a chance to prove it.