Klitschko Outworks Ibragimov

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 26, 2008

NEW YORK — The highly anticipated world heavyweight championship unification bout between Wladimir Klitschko 50-3, 44 KOs) and Sultan Ibragimov (22-1-1, 17 KOs) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday was not as exciting as everyone hoped it would be.

It sorely lacked drama and suspense.

“Anyway, the fight is over and we have the winner of the fight,” said Klitschko while sitting in front of the unified IBF, WBO, and unrecognized IBO heavyweight championships at the post-fight press conference.

“Klitschko vs. Ibragimov: The Unification” may have not been the Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman or even Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield of the new millennium, everyone got what they wanted.

The sports world has demanded the unification of the world heavyweight championship and Klitschko’s dominant 12-round unanimous decision victory was a positive step toward that direction.

All three judges scored the contest 119-110, 118-110, and 117-111 for Klitschko.

With the world heavyweight championships at stake, one would have expected the two champions to fight one another as hard as they did in recent fights against Holyfield, Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, Shannon Briggs, and Lamon Brewster.

Instead, both Klitschko and Ibragimov simply gave one another way too much respect and appeared content toward jabbing and moving toward a decision.

“I was definitely [trying] to win this fight as impressive as possible,” Klitschko continued. “It was not easy to get along with the style of Sultan because he was very… The size difference between us and the way he was going back down. [If ] I should throw my right hand, I probably lose my balance. That’s what he was looking for.”

Klitschko used every advantage that his 6-foot-7, 238-pound frame allowed against a smaller 6-foot-2, 219-pound southpaw with solid boxing skills. Ibragimov was a fast-moving target that would not allow Klitschko to settle and land his left-jab, right-hand combination effectively.

But Ibragimov, as well as the world, was surprised to see just how fast and illusive Klitschko’s footwork was. Wladimir cut off the ring effectively; often trapping Ibragimov in a corner and slowly plowing left jabs toward Ibragimov’s head.

Unfortunately, both Klitschko, who recognized for his one-punch knockout power in both fists, and Ibragimov, known for having a sneaky left-hand, were very tentative to throw punches.

“He’s a difficult fighter,” Klitschko added. “I have to give him respect, he’s a champion. I put my strategy to build the fight with my left hand and then when he’s not aware of my right hand, land my right hand to knock him out. It wasn’t easy. I land some right hands, but he took it. He was trying to do is best, but because of his defensive style, it was not easy to win the fight as impressive as I’d wished.”

Klitschko, as proven in recent fights under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Steward, continues to control his fight at the pace and distance that he wants. Klitschko, an many heavyweights will agree, is very difficult to reach.

Ibragimov, who did attend the post-fight press conference, had difficulty with his won strategy which was to counter Klitschko’s booming right with straight-lefts.

The problem was Klitschko didn’t throw his right hand much and Ibragimov was thrown off my Klitschko’s quickness.

“I waited [on] his right hand and it never come,” Ibragimov said. “We watched all of Klitschko’s fight and Klitschko’s more faster [than on tape].

Punch Stats

Klitschko threw more punches (348-316) and landed more (148-97). Klitschko landed 108 of 245 jabs (44%), as opposed to Ibragimov’s 16 of 137 (12%). Klitschko’s jab and his ability to make Ibragimov miss frequently was perhaps the decisive factor in the fight.

Klitschko Awaits Further Unification

Wladimir may have the IBF/WBO, and unrecognized IBO championships, but he cannot be considered undisputed unless he captures the WBC and WBA titles.

“I’m ready to fight again as soon as possible. I wish I could get another champion who is holding the WBC title next month. Sam Peter and [Oleg] Maskaev are fighting, so we’ll see what’s going to happen over there. They’re fighting in Mexico. My brother is stepping in, so I’ll let my brother handle it.”

The WBC title will be held up for a while because 1) champion Oleg Maskaev will meet “interim” champion Sam Peter on March 8, in Cancun, Mexico. 2) The winner will face “Champion Emeritus,” Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir’s older brother.

Former WBA champion Nikolai Valuev defeated former WBO champion Sergui Liakhovich to become the No. 1-ranked contender to challenge Ruslan Chagaev in a rematch. Last year, Chagaev upset the 7′ 3,” 320-pound giant by wining a 12-round decision to win the WBA title.

In the interim, Wladimir can remain busy against the likes of IBF No. 1-ranked Alexander Povetkin and newly inherited WBO mandatory, Tony Thompson.

An Event For Charity

The unification bout between Klitschko and Ibragimov was more than just a history-making event. It was also for a charitable cause.

For a $199.00 tax-deductible donation, boxing fans can have their name printed on the customary red and gold robe that the champion from Ukraine wears to the ring in support of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving communal affairs to improve the lives of children and young adult through sports. With programs and projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is internationally known.

Klitschko’s donation will reportedly exceed more than $500,000 in support of the necessary funding that the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation will use a portion of to build an active community center for young children in the Bronx, NY.

“I’m very thankful to everyone” Klitschko said during an international media gathering at Madison Square Garden this week. “We’re taking about thousands of people who put their name on my boxing robe. Ibragimov’s fans also Klitschko fans for supporting the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.”

Klitschko, who actually visited the Bronx this week recognized the need to keep young people in active/competitive activities and off the rough streets of New York City.

“We raised enough money to get a new place for the kids in the Bronx,” Klitschko added. “I’ve already visited one project where kids spend their time in arts classes, martial arts classes or any other classes where they were took out of the street from the drugs, violence, and crime. I think sports, as an influence, will make them better as a person for the future. To use this stage, I think is a great opportunity, especially in New York.”

Klitschko added: “To be the heavyweight champion means a lot because this title is something special,” Klitschko said of his unification bout with Ibragimov. “The heavyweight champion can use his stage and his title to accomplish many things, as Muhammad Ali has done in his time with all that he’s done outside of the ring even in the inside.”

The Undercard

Klitschko’s training partner and unbeaten WBO No. 1-ranked cruiserweight contender Jonathan Banks 19-0, 14 KOs) knocked out former IBF cruiserweight champion Imamu Mayfield (25-9-2, 18 KOs) at 1:49 seconds of the first round.

Banks will await the winner of the highly-anticipated WBC, WBA, and WBO cruiserweight championship unification bout between David Haye and Enzo Macrinelli in March.

Undefeated Middleweight prospect Joe Greene (18-0, 14 KOs) scored four knockdowns against Francisco Mora (52-12, 35 KOs) en route to a tenth round TKO. Mora refused to answer the bell to begin round ten.

Undefeated super middleweight on the rise, “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillen 16-0, 13 KOs) knocked out Thomas Brown (11-4-1, 7 KOs) at 1:32 of the second round.

Ireland’s unbeaten middleweight prospect John Duddy (24-0, 17 KOs) won a controversial 10-round majority decision against Waild Smichet (17-4-3, 13 KOs). One judge scored the bout 95-95 (even) and the other two scored it 98-92 (Duddy).

Duddy’s face was busted and bloodied, as he absorbed too many solid right’s by Smichet. It wasn’t until the fourth round when Duddy’s left jabs began to find their mark. Duddy boxed in the second-half of the contest, but took too many big shots and many believe he didn’t deserve the win at all.