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Heavy weight house cleaning Part I: Klitschko, Ibragimov meet tonight to unify two titles!

First heavyweight title unification fight since 1999!

Tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the universally recognized #1 heavyweight in the world, Wladimir Klitschko, will put his IBF/IBO belts on the line in a unification match with undefeated WBO titlist Sultan Ibragimov. Ibragimov is coming off two back to back wins over Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield. Klitschko has beaten the likes of Samuel Peter (who is challenging WBC champion Oleg Maskaev on March 8 in Cancun), Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, and Lamon Brewster.

This fight marks the first heavyweight unification in nine years, the last one taking in 1999 between Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. For Klitschko, this is an opportunity to advance his status as the best heavyweight in the world on his march to the legitimate world heavyweight title. Ibragimov, on the other hand, hopes to use his amateur experience as well as his awkward southpaw style to derail the Dr Ironfist Express and make his own noble climb to the championship. Maskaev and Peter might have something to say about this, but first they must handle their own business on March 8.

Take the Klitschko/Ibragimov winner and put him against the winner of Maskaev/Peter and that, ladies and gentlemen and boxing fans, will give you the Universally recognized heavyweight champion of the world. First thing is first, Klitschko and Ibragimov must settle their business tonight at Madison Square Garden. Let's call it chapter one in what is so far two part saga to attempt to clean up the heavyweight division.

On ESPN Friday Night Fights last night, Teddy Atlas shockingly picked Ibragimov to win this fight. The reasons behind his prediction were his beliefs that Ibragimov would take away Klitschko's height and reach and force him to fight a little man's fight, using the method and strategy of the Carlos Quintana's upset win over Paul Williams a couple weeks ago as his analogy.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that is not always going to happen in fights between tall and short fighters. I would remind you that Williams also had no amateur experience, whereas Klitschko was a 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist. Ibragimov had an extensive amateur background as well, so that truly makes this a case of good big man against good smaller man.

As I look at the one common opponent both of tonight's combatants share on their respective professional records, Ray Austin, I recall Ibragimov struggling to a split decision draw against Austin in July of 2006, while Klitschko virtually crushed Austin and made him look like an over matched sparring partner in less than two rounds. That is one of the many reasons why Klitschko is the favorite going into this fight. Not only for that reason, but also for the fact that he's faced the better quality of opposition and he has more professional experience than his opponent.

When two pugilists have extensive amateur experience, it can sometimes come down to size and professional experience. That is where Klitschko has an edge over Ibragimov. Klitschko is the bigger man. Bigger man, bigger punch.

Prediction: Klitschko by KO9.

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