A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Victims Of Their Own Success??
Since 2004, they have not lost a fight and they have pretty much dominated the division. The Klitschko brothers have not been involved in a close fight or been tested since Wladimir last loss.
For Wladimir, his turning point was his victory over Samuel Peter. Peter came into the fight as boxing premier slugger and Wladimir had his reputation as a fighter with a glass chin.
In that fight, he survived three knockdowns to win an easy decision victory. In the 12th round, he nearly stopped Peter and won a unanimous decision. From that point, Wladimir was never threatened again as a fighter and he took his game to another level.
Vitali’s own path has seen not just its up’s but its down’s.
Until Vitali faced Lennox Lewis, his only defeat was against Byrd — a fight that he was winning easy before a shoulder injury forced him to retire. The fight that made Vitali’s reputation was his loss to Lennox Lewis.
He won four of the first six rounds but a Lewis right hand in the third open a cut that became progressively worse and forced a stoppage. Vitali gained new respect but soon after that fight, various injuries kept him inactive for four years.
He made his own comeback against Samuel Peter and delivered an easy victory; forcing Peter to quit for the only time in Peter’s career.
In Vitali’s last fight against Chris Arreola, he schooled the young fighter in the art of pugilistic tactics. Arreola never got untracked and eat jabs after jabs before the fight was stopped in the 10th.
Both fighters have their unique styles, Vitali is a classic European fighter, a stand up style featuring a jab and effective right hand. He uses his height to its utmost advantage as his jab keeps his smaller opponents away and when they move past the jab; the right nails them.
Wladimir resembles a more American style with more variety of punches and while he does not have the fluidity of Lennox Lewis at his peak. He’s developed an effective arsenal.
Against Arreola, Vitali averaged 80 punches per round, numbers often reserved for much smaller weight classes. Floyd Mayweather throws no way near that many punches as Vitali who weighs 100 pounds more.
He’s a 38-year-old fighter who had a four year lay off, showed himself to be in better shape than a fighter decade younger and he could have fought another 10 rounds at that pace.
The argument against the Klitschko’s is that they have fought in a thin era of heavyweights, all true but they have dominated that division over the last five years. The best heavyweights have fallen to their power and skills.
If they didn’t knock you out, they outboxed you.
Wladimir has won 13 title bouts and Vitali have won five title bouts with only three losses between them. Vitali was competitive against Lewis, a Hall of Fame fighter and the test of champions is how they do against the best of their generation.
The Klitschko brothers can’t control the skills of their opponents; they have to simply beat those opponents which they have.
For the most part, the Klitschko’s have beaten the best. Wladimir’s last loss was against Lamon Brewster in a fight that he was winning easily before Brewster stopped him with a wild left hook.
Wladimir would avenge that lost and is in the midst of a five year winning rampage through the heavyweights and now his older brother have joined the fun. The only fighter that can beat Wladimir is Vitali and the only fighter who can beat Vitali is Wladimir but neither fighter has expressed an interest in fighting each other.
They appear to be satisfied to simply share the heavyweight belts among each other.
Wladimir is not the same league of Ali or Louis, much less than Lennox Lewis but he is working on a Hall of Fame career whereas Vitali’s four years absence may hurt his chances but history may be friendlier to the brothers than what pundits are now.
The heavyweights aren’t a strong division when compared to past eras, but it is stronger than it is credited. Most of the better heavyweights are Europeans and many of their fights are invisible to American public and many American boxing pundits.
The Klitschko’s are slowly developing their own place in boxing history and as one HBO boxing reporter summed up their biggest strength, “To beat the Klitschko’s, you must approach it as a 365-day job.”