Calvin Brock: The Next Heavyweight Champion?

By Francis Walker
Updated: November 8, 2006

NEW YORK — Calvin Brock (29-0, 22 KOs) has trained for weeks in preparation for his first heavyweight title fight. Brock’s task will not be easy, as he plans to unseat Wladimir Klitschko (46-3, 41 KOs) of the IBF championship on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Klitschko-Brock will be broadcast live on HBO beginning at 10 p.m./EST following the replay of Floyd Mayweather’s brilliant WBC welterweight title victory against Carlos Baldomir on Nov. 4th in Las Vegas.
At 31, Brock, an educated man with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, is an accomplished undefeated heavyweight title contender.
His amateur background is solid. He was 147-38 in the amateurs and was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Boxing team in Sydney. Brock began his professional career in 2001. Although he only has 5 first round KOs, he has knocked out 80% of his opponents.
However, there are a number of questions that Brock must answer decisively if he wishes to beat the 30-year-old, 6′ 7″ 245-pound giant from Kiev, Ukraine.
Can Brock, at 6′ 2,” 225 lbs., effectively maneuver inside and strategically land effective punches against a bigger and stronger fighter?
Klitschko has a long 81-inch reach and has knockout power in both hands. Klitschko has a strong left jab and a hard right hand. For a heavyweight with his size, Klitschko has exceptional reflexes. Fighters to have fought Klitschko said repeatedly that he punches very, very hard.
Klitschko is at his best when he can keep his opponents on the tail-end of his lengthy reach. Klitschko was dominant in his two fights against Chris Byrd, Derrick Jefferson, Monte Barrett, and Charles Shufford to name a few.
Although he was topped by Lamon Brewster and tasted the canvas three times against Sam Peter, Klitschko displayed the type of punching power that can snap someone’s head backwards into a brain scattering daze.
Can Brock force Klitschko to fight going backwards?
There would be nothing more impressive if Brock can force the champion to fight going backwards. Klitschko is strong and his punches are more effective when he moves forward. This allows Klitschko to have more snap and power in his punches.
Should Brock force Klitschko to move in the opposite direction, the big man would have difficulty setting up his combinations. Klitschko would be forced to hold in order to slow Brock down and have a chance to reestablish the fight’s tempo.
If Brock can hurt Klitschko, does the challenger have enough skill to finish?
There have been many times when an underdog have stunned a champion with one punch and the underdog could not finish. Riddick Bowe suffered a knockdown in the third fight against Evander Holyfield in November 1995.
Holyfield landed a left hook that caught Bowe flush on his chin early in the fight. A fatigued Holyfield trapped Bowe into a corner and could not finish.
Bowe knocked out Holyfield in the eighth round.
Newly crowned WBO heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs had Lennox Lewis hurt in the opening seconds of their WBC heavyweight title clash in March 1998.
Briggs nearly knocked Lewis through the ropes, but could not finish. Briggs punched himself out, as Lewis impressively rallied for a fifth-round knockout.
In November 1994, Jameel McCline, a 6′ 6″ 270-pound heavyweight contender had Byrd (then IBF champion) on the brink of suffering a devastating second-round knockout. McCline allowed Byrd, who was outweighed by 50 pounds, to outmaneuver him through the remainder of the contest.
Byrd escaped with a 12-round split decision victory.
If Brock can clip Klitschko with a hard shot, will Brock be aggressive enough to finish the champion?
We’ll see on Saturday.
Laila Ali (22-0, 19 KOs), the daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali, brings her undefeated record and WBC women’s super middleweight title into Madison Square Garden for the first time in her illustrious career.
Although Ali is undefeated and is clearly the face of women’s boxing, her bout against Shelley Burton (8-2-1, 2 KOs) will not be televised on HBO.
Among Ali’s biggest victories include an 8-round majority decision against the legendary heavyweight Joe Frazier’s daughter, Jackie Frazier-Lyde in June 2001. Ali also has a fourth-round KO win against Christy Martin in 2003.
Laila’s father has had many memorable fights at the Garden. Perhaps the most memorable was the first of three epic heavyweight battles between Muhammad Ali and Frazier more than 25 years ago.
On March 8, 1971, Ali (31-0) defended the WBC/WBA heavyweight championships against Frazier (26-0) in an epic battle between two undefeated heavyweights. Frazier dropped Ali in the fifteen and final round, en route to winning the heavyweight titles on an unanimous decision.
Ali-Frazier I was named the 1971 Fight of the Year. Ali would beat Frazier on January 28, 1974 at Madison Square Garden. Overall, Ali had a lifetime record of 7-1, 4 KOs at the Garden. Let’s see if Laila can continue the Ali legacy at the Garden.