Saturday night in Grozny, Chechen Republic, Lucas Browne stopped Ruslan Chagaev in Round 10 to capture the WBA “regular” heavyweight championship. In some corners, you might actually hear Browne referred to as the “first heavyweight champion from Australia.”
But he is, of course, no such thing. The WBA “regular” belt is not a legitimate world championship. The WBA heavyweight world champion is Tyson Fury, the man who beat Wladimir Klitschko. Fury’s “super” championship is the one that bears a direct lineage to the title Muhammad Ali held. So that’s the WBA’s legitimate world title.
The “regular” belt is something they trot out with regularity to cash-in on fan confusion for the benefit of collecting extra sanctioning fees. It’s an embarrassment.
Regardless, Browne’s win over Chagaev is extremely significant. If definitely establishes the man from down under as a true player in the division.
Browne is a former MMA fighter and bar-room bouncer. So he’s always had a bit of a reputation for being a hard-slugging brawler. But against Chagaev, he showed some very solid boxing skill. He used a very good jab and lateral movement to take advantage of his significant length advantage. For the first four rounds, he did a very good job of keeping Chagaev on the outside.
But in the end, it was Lucas Browne’s status as a tough son-of-a-gun that won him this fight. Chagaev is a very experienced, cagey fighter and by Round 5, he had begun to have success cutting off the ring and closing the distance. The southpaw landed with hard lead hooks to the body and lunging, overhand lefts. In Round 6, Chagaev lit Browne up, cutting his eye and dropping him. It was impressive that Browne even survived the round.
Round 7 was as dog fight. Browne began to connect with uppercuts, a natural weapon against a shorter fighter. But both men landed heavy shots on each other, battling hard to protect themselves and also to finish the bout.
In Round 8, the action slowed down and this favored Browne, as he was able to stay at range and pick his shots. Round 9 was more of the same.
In Round 10, Chagaev began to fight with more urgency, and Browne landed the decisive punch, when he scored with a big counter right over the top of a Chagaev left. Chagaev went down hard, but beat the count. Browne then attacked him like a wolf on a sick caribou, forcing a stoppage.
It will be very interesting to see who ends up being Lucas Browne’s next opponent. As the WBA “regular” champ, he is presumably the No. 1 contender now for Tyson Fury’s WBA “super” belt. A showdown between Browne and WBA “interim” champion Luis Ortiz would also be an intriguing bout.
The heavyweight division is as exciting as it has been in years right now. The addition of Lucas Browne only adds to the excitement.