Sorting out heavyweights

April 27, 2004|By Lem Satterfield

SORTING OUT HEAVYWEIGHTS

The best

Roy Jones Jr., 35

Record: 49-1, 38 KOs.

Skinny: Sport's pound-for-pound best has speed, stamina, decent power. Teased division by dominating John Ruiz only to drop to light heavyweight for lucrative bouts with Antonio Tarver. Self-managed 5-foot-11 fighter weighed 193 for Ruiz.

Merit: What can't he do?

Demerit: Other than age? None.

James Toney, 35

Record: 67-4-2, 43 KOs.

Skinny: The 5-11, 220-pound boxer/puncher out-classed Evander Holyfield in ninth-round KO. Has speed, technical skills, surprising power and all-around defensive skills. Wins over Holyfield and Vassiliy Jirov earned him Fighter of the Year.

Merit: Division's best outside of Jones.

Demerit: Recovering from Achilles' injury. Age also a factor.

The champions

Lamon Brewster, 30

Record: 30-2, 27 KOs.

Skinny: Hard-hitting, little-known fighter showed heart in rising off deck to flatten Wladimir Klitschko with left hook-laden barrage for WBO title.

Merit: Win over Klitschko.

Demerit: Outhustled, out-pointed by non-entities Charles Shufford and Clifford Etienne.

Chris Byrd, 33

Record: 37-2, 20 KOs.

Skinny: Often-avoided 6-1, sub-215-pound left-handed IBF champ has heart, boxing ability, solid chin and willingness to face anyone. Many rate him No. 1 heavyweight for TKO of Vitali Klitschko.

Merit: Beat Klitschko, David Tua, Evander Holyfield, Fres Oquendo, Andrew Golota.

Demerit: Light-hitting, finesse style is a tough sell.

Vitali Klitschko, 32

Record: 34-2, 33 KOs.

Skinny: Good jab, power, more heart than younger brother Wladimir. But 6-8, 245-pound Ukrainian lacks defense. Fights out of Germany, like his brother. Regarded as best heavyweight by some for taking WBC belt, which Lennox Lewis retired.

Merit: Beat Corrie Sanders.

Demerit: Quit vs. Chris Byrd, citing hurt shoulder.

John Ruiz, 32

Record: 40-5, 28 KOs.

Skinny: The 6-2, 240-pound plodder's jab-and-grab style is effective if aesthetically unappealing. The WBA champ wears down rivals using big right for late-round KOs.

Merit: Beat Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman.

Demerit: Boring style is financial loser.

The contenders

Evander Holyfield, 41

Record: 38-7-2, 25 KOs.

Skinny: Has lost "Real Deal" reflexes, but sadly, 6-2, 220-pound four-time champ remains factor on heart, craftiness and economic punching. Division's dirtiest fighter never to be penalized. Is 2-4-2 in past eight bouts.

Merit: Beat Mike Tyson, Hasim Rahman, John Ruiz. Name is still marketable.

Demerit: Turns 42 in October.

Andrew Golota, 36

Record: 38-4-1, 31 KOs.

Skinny: The 6-4, 240-pound accident in waiting earned nickname "Foul Pole" for head-butting, biting and low blows. Twice DQ'd vs. Riddick Bowe. Fragile psyche led to quitting vs. Michael Grant (stopped in 10th) and Mike Tyson (no contest).

Merit: Cleanly fought 12-round IBF loss to Byrd.

Demerit: Lost to Bowe, Grant and Lennox Lewis (KO in 1st).

Hasim Rahman, 31

Record: 37-5-1, 30 KOs.

Skinny: Baltimore native, 6-3, 257, has division's best jab, good right hand. But ex-champ didn't execute in losses to Evander Holyfield and John Ruiz and a draw with David Tua despite having three of the sport's best trainers.

Merit: KOs over Lennox Lewis and Corrie Sanders. Dominated draw with Tua.

Demerit: Lost to Ruiz, Holyfield, Lewis and Oleg Maskaev.

Mike Tyson, 36

Record: 50-4, 44 KOs.

Skinny: When he's not fighting off lawsuits, Tyson's a KO artist with name recognition. But he's fought only 49 seconds - flooring Clifford Etienne - since being decked by Lewis in August 2002.

Merit: His name.

Demerit: Himself.

Wladimir Klitschko, 28

Record: 42-3, 39 KOs.

Skinny: Former Olympic gold medalist has right-handed power and good jab. But 6-7, 245-pounder's upright, robotic style, weak chin and poor stamina may ruin him.

Merit: Beat Chris Byrd, Monte Barrett.

Demerit: Weak chin and two straight KO losses to Lamon Brewster and Corrie Sanders.

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