How can this be? At one time, they were the bread and butter of the boxing world. The big money, the big draw. The media circus. Capturing our dollars and our imagination.
Now, we are relegated to watching marginally in shape ex-Soviets (ok, Klitschko is fit) lean on each other for 12 rounds of 'action' that is about as exciting and interesting as Soviet era heavy machinery production.
Names like Maskaev, Valuev, Liakhovich, and Chagaev. All loosely translated to mean marginally skilled and overly boring.
The days of thunder in the division are as long gone as the Cold War.
How did this happen? How did it come to be that the one time show piece division of the sweet science was stripped down to a show that can be rivalled at a local Golden Gloves competition?
Lennox Lewis was the last great heavyweight. He also may be responsible for single-handedly destroying the division.
Lewis, in addition to his skills, changed the body of the division. At 6-4 and around 250ish pounds, Lewis was a new breed of heavyweight. No longer could 6-1 and 220ish pounds get you to the top of the division.
And with that change, the talent pool greatly changed as well.
It's no secret that the heavyweight division has been the Negro's possession for near 50 years. The occasional great white hype would step up. He'd get knocked out. And business would continue as usual in the heavies.
But Lewis changed the dimension of the division. And in doing so, he changed the talent pool.
In the USA, most young Negroes of Lewis' dimensions are not found in boxing gyms and clubs. They are found on gridirons and hardwood (or concrete, as the case may be).
As a result, we are left with stumbling, unorthodox and inconsequential heavies, a la Klitschko, who are grinding the division into veritable bankruptcy.
If Klitschko is able to rest the remaining belts from the waists of his fellow marginally able cohorts, we can officially write an obituary for heavyweight boxing:
This once proud division; forged in the image of Louis, Ali, Frazier, Norton, Holmes, Tyson, Holyfield and Lewis was smothered under the heavy feet, slow hands and boring minds of a Slavic invasion. Unfortunately, the division is survived by none.