Here's a look at what's in store for the heavyweights in 2012:
WBA/IBF/WBO champ, Wladimir Klitschko has reached the tough position of having beaten almost everyone worth beating in this era of heavyweights. Former cruierweight champ, Jean Marc Mormeck, will get a payday in March, but won't likely represent much of a challenge. Beyond March, a re-built and re-packaged Chris Arreola may get a shot. "Nordic Nightmare," Robert Helenius is the WBO's number one challenger and could make for an interesting contest later in the year. Vitali Klitschko is in pretty much the same boat as his younger brother. The WBC titlist is set to face Brit, Dereck Chisora on February 18th and will likely face David Haye at some point in the Summer. After that, there's not much else. The 40-year-old may be at the right age and career stage to consider retirement. But, then again, why retire when nobody has come close to beating you since Lennox Lewis in 2003?
Alexander Povetkin's trainer, Teddy Atlas, wants no part of the Klitschkos— and that's probably a wise choice. The Russian contender owns a lesser WBA heavyweight title and is signed to fight cruiserweight titlist, Marco Huck, in February. After that, former titlist, Hasim Rahman seems to be on the agenda.
Trash-talking Brit, David Haye lost an embarrassingly one-sided decision to Wladimir Klitschko last July and then limped off into retirement. He's apparently back now for one more major payday against Vitali Klitschko. If Haye is serious about clearing up his name and removing all the bad karma he generated for a poor performance, he should come out strong. If he's only looking for a paycheck, expect another dull night of boxing.
Eddie Chambers is the highest ranked American heavyweight, but has already been stopped by Wladimir Klitschko in a bid for the title. Chambers is back, though, and taking on Siarhei Liakhovich on the NBC Sports Network in January. A win will keep him high in the rankings and allow him a couple more marginal fights before looking to challenge for another title.
Americans, Chris Arreola and Tony Thompson are high up in the rankings of all four sanctioning bodies, but are really little more than championship re-treads. Arreola has become the number one contender to Vitali Klitschko's WBC title, but was stopped by Vitali in 2009. Thompson is ranked number two in the IBF behind champ, Wladimir Klitschko, but was already stopped by Wlad in 2008.
In Britain, Dereck Chisora will get his shot at the WBC world title, but is likely in way over his head. Tyson Fury will keep chugging along as a young, flawed, but compelling fighter with real credentials at the regional/national level.
Meanwhile in America, promising heavyweight prospect, Seth Mitchell will likely feast on a steady diet of journeymen throughout 2012, but has proven himself to be, at the very least, an entertaining distraction.
Also,expect some minor waves from Alexander Dimitrenko and re-packaged versions of Odlanier Solis, Tomasz Adamek, and Michael Grant.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. He is the editor in chief of the only major boxing news site that refuses to accept promoter or network advertising. He is also a contributor to Fox Sports. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.