Still The Champ: Klitschko TKOs Rahman

By Francis Walker
Updated: December 14, 2008

When fighters stand directly in front of Wladimir Klitschko, Dr. Steel Hammer likes to control the action using distance, a punishing left jab, and powerful right hand.

When fighters stand directly in front of Wladimir Klitschko, Dr. Steel Hammer likes to control the action using distance, a punishing left jab, and powerful right hand.

NEW YORK — Wladimir Klitschko (52-3, 46 KOs) successfully defended his IBF/WBO and unrecognized IBO heavyweight championships with a TKO stoppage of Hasim Rahman (45-7-2, 36 KOs) at the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany on Saturday.

The bout was called off 44 seconds into round seven when referee Tony Weeks decided that Rahman had absorbed too much punishment. “Hasim Rahman really got punished,” said Klitschko after going 3-0, with 2 KOs in 2008.

Rahman, a former two-time heavyweight champion best known for his spectacular knockout of Lennox Lewis in April 2001, wasn’t really into the fight. Rahman was a stationary target for Klitschko.

The 32 year-old champion from Ukraine dominated Rahman using distance, solid left jabs, and powerful straight-rights, and left hooks from the opening bell.

Rahman, 36, Baltimore, MD, simply had nothing.

In round six, Klitschko dropped Rahman with a triple left hook, right-left hand combination early in the round. Klitschko continued to punish Rahman in a corner for the remainder of the round; closing the challenger’s right eye in the process.

Wladimir Klitschko's left hook was a can't miss weapon against Hasim Rahman.

Wladimir Klitschko's left hook was a can't miss weapon against Hasim Rahman.

The bout came to an end when Klitschko hurt Rahman in a corner after landing a five-punch left-right hook combination to the head.

Klitschko’s win further cemented his dominance in the heavyweight division. The question isn’t whether there’s a heavyweight that can beat Klitschko. The new question is whether there’s any heavyweight that can challenge Klitschko.

Since becoming a two-time heavyweight champion following a seventh-round demolition of Chris Byrd for the IBF title in April 2004, Klitschko has defeated unbeaten heavyweights Calvin Brock and Sultan Ibragimov. Klitschko has also dominated the likes of Tony Thompson, avenged a loss to Lamon Brewster, and KO’d a resurgent Ray Austin inside two rounds.

Luckily, heading into 2009 there is a growing list of contenders that should keep action in the heavyweight division going.

Chris Arreola (26-0, 23 KOs)

Arreola, at 27 is an unbeaten Mexican-American heavyweight coming off his three-round demolition of Travis Walker on November 29. Arreola survived knockdown early in the second round, but cam e from behind to drop Walker later in the round. Arreola put a dent in any hopes of Walker upsetting him by finishing him behind brute strength and power.

Arreola is strong, but has a lot of work to do. His conditioning has to improve. Also, he has to work on shooting straighter and harder punches. Klitschko can easily block and swipe looping shots from shorter fighters. Arreola is going to have cloze the distance and attack Klitschko’s body if he wishes to have a shot at breaking Klitschko down.

David Haye (22-1, 21 KOs)

Haye, 28, London, England, may appear to be brash and arrogant. However, Haye brings a lot of youth, energy, movement, combination punching, and speed into each of his fights. Haye is immensely popular in England ands well-known throughout Germany.

Haye is a former world cruiserweight champion and abandoned the 200-pound weight division after a pair of knockouts against Jean-Marc Mormeck (TKO 7) and Enzo Maccarinelli (KO 2) to unify the WBC/WBA and WBO titles.

Haye previously knocked down Monte Barrett five times before knocking him out in the fifth round before issuing a challenge to the Klitschko brothers.

The biggest knock against Haye is his size and his chin. Klitschko said it himself that Haye maybe too small to challenge him. Haye was only 215 when he defeated Barrett. Haye’s hand speed and movement may present a problem for Wladimir. That would be intriguing to see because, there’s no other heavyweight whose speed ands size possess a problem for Klitschko.

Alexander Povetkin (16-0, 12 KOs)

Povetkin, 29, Moscow, Russia, is considered a hard puncher, but is very inexperienced having only 16 professional bouts. Povetkin is in line for a title shot because he defeated Chris Byrd and Eddie Chambers in an elimination tournament to become the IBF No. 1-ranked contender.

Povetkin was supposed to have fought Klitschko instead of Rahman, but was injured in training camp in November and pulled out. Povetkin, still the IBF mandatory, will have to wait until September ’09 for his title shot.

Alexander Dimitrenko (29-0, 19 KOs)

Dimitrenko is the WBO mandatory. He’s just as tall as Klitschko and is a very strong fighter. Dimitrenko recently stopped former heavyweight title challenger Luan Krasniqi in the third round on a solid body shot. Dimitrenko needs to improve his profile and build his experience, but because of his size and youth, Klitschko will have to consistently work hard for a victory.

W.Klitschko vs. Haye a possibility

The most likely scenario for Wladimir, who splits the world heavyweight championship with older brother Vitali, the WBC champion, would be a fight with Haye. In recent months, Haye has been critical of the heavyweight division and has moved up in weight and is pressing K2 for the opportunity to fight Wladimir, which could happen by summer. However, Haye needs at least one other heavyweight bout first.

In other news

Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham unloaded on each other for twelve action-packed rounds. Cunningham survived three knockdowns, but came up short and lost his cruiserweight title on the official judges scorecards.

Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham unloaded on each other for twelve action-packed rounds. Cunningham survived three knockdowns, but came up short and lost his cruiserweight title on the official judges scorecards.

In an exciting world championship contest at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on Thursday, Steve Cunningham (21-2, 11 KOs) lost his IBF cruiserweight title in his second defense on a split decision No. 1 contender Tomas Adamek (36-1, 24 KOs).

At the end of twelve rounds that was packed with lots of non-stop, back and forth action, the three official judges at ringside scored the bout 114-112 for Cunningham, but 116-110 and 115-112 for Adamek.

Cunningham vs. Adamek could be the 2008 Fight of the Year. Cunningham was knocked down in rounds two, four, and eight during a very exciting contest in which it looked as though the champion was going to stop Adamek in the fourth round.

“My game plan tonight was to box,” Cunningham stated. “I thought I had him in the fourth, so I went for a knockout and he caught me. It cost me the fight. That’s boxing.”

Adamek, to the surprise of many, was the puncher in the fight. Whenever Cunningham pressed the action with a pawing left jab and right hands, Ademek’s straighter and solid punches would change the tide of the bout constantly. Adamek was stunned early in that fourth round, but weathered the storm to drop the champion on the canvas once more.

Cunningham boxed a more solid technical fight in the later rounds and rallied to close the gap on the scorecards, but came up short.

Kendall Holt successful in first title defense

Fighting for the first time since winning the WBO junior welterweight championship following a sensational first round KO of Ricardo Torres in July, Kendall Holt (25-2, 13 KOs) won a 12-round split decision in his hometown against unbeaten Demetrius Hopkins (28-1, 11 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ on Saturday.

The judges scored the bout 117-111 and 116-112 for Holt, but a surprising 115-113 for Hopkins.

Holt was originally scheduled to face Torres in a rubber match (third fight), but the former champion pulled out earlier this week when he was too ill to fight.

Demetrius, the nephew of the popular Bernard Hopkins, stepped in and gave a competitive showing. Hopkins simply didn’t have the firepower to prevent Holt from moving forward and applying pressure. Holt won the fight simply because he was stronger puncher and was willing to initiate the action.

WBO champion vs. WBC champion at 140

Holt’s victory against Hopkins set up a unification bout at 140 pounds with unbeaten WBC champion, Timothy Bradley. In May, Bradley pulled off a major upset when he lifted the WBC title from Junior Witter on a decision in Witter’s hometown of Nottingham, England.

Bradley has since defended his title once — a unanimous decision over Edner Cherry in September.