By Karl Freitag
Photos by Eroll Popova
With his best performance in years, former WBA heavyweight champion and currently #2 rated Ruslan Chagaev (26-1-1, 17 KOs) became the mandatory challenger of WBA champion David Haye, winning a twelve round unanimous decision over #1 rated Kali Meehan (35-4, 29 KOs). Chagaev simply outworked Meehan in a WBA eliminator Saturday night at the Stadthalle in Rostock, Germany. Scores were 118-110, 117-111, 117-112.
After a slow first round, Chagaev pressed the action and landed some good shots in round two. He also made some nifty defensive moves causing some big misses by Meehan. Round four went clearly to Chagaev, who landed repeatedly with hard straight left hands.
The taller Meehan adjusted and did well firing his jab when in the center of the ring, but Chagaev continued to land the big shots in the match. Meehan landed a good right hand in the seventh that seemed to hurt Chagaev, but the ex-champ was back in control in round eight.
Down the stretch, trainer Stacy McKinley urged Meehan to let his hands go, but when he did Chagaev won the exchanges driving Meehan back. Both fighters threw big shots in the final round but in the end it was Chagaev’s night.
After the fight, Chagaev was asked when he’ll be ready to take on David Haye. “Immediately,” he answered.