Austin/Klitschko: Is Wladimir Ripe For Another Loss?

wladimir klitschko10.03.07 - By Miguel Velasco: For many people, heavyweight challenger Ray Austin (23-3-4, 16 KO's) has little, if any chance at beating Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF heavyweight champion, this Saturday night at the SAP-Arena, in Mannheim, Germany. Before I go on, let me introduce myself to all of you: I'm relatively new to East Side Boxing, having recently stumbled across it while reading about a few of my favorite boxers. I immediately took a liking to the site and have been posting on the front page ever since. Indeed, some of you may have seen one or two of my posts.

At any rate, to get back to my point: I saw how many of you were giving Austin almost zero chance at beating Wladimir, so rather than sit on the fence and keep my mouth shut, I felt it necessary to speak out, to let all of you know what a mistake you are making by ignoring the size, power, endurance and chin which Ray Austin brings into his bout against Wladimir (47-3, 42 KO's), a fighter with a truckload full of problems, mainly related to his dreadful stamina and notoriously weak chin.

I'm here to tell you, Ray Austin has the skills and power to plant Wladimir, just as he's been flattened before in his career by fighters that were at one time held in as light regard as Austin. Against Lance Whitaker, Owen Beck, Zuri Lawrence, Larry Donald and Sultan Ibragimov, Austin fought solidly, showing excellent power, despite only winning one of the bouts and getting stuck with a draw in the other four.

What I saw in those bouts was that Austin was still largely unpolished, like a diamond in the rough, but had the overall skills to be a heavyweight champion, if given the right training environment in which to hone his raw power, fueled by his large 6'6" 245 lb frame. In each one of those bouts, Austin has shown a steady improvement culminating with his bout tomorrow night against Wladimir.

Austin's age, 36, would from first glance, appear to be a problem going into this bout, but he in fact is a young 36, a product of good, clean living and excellent genetics. But know this, while he's six years older than Wladimir, he looks to be the younger man, all around. Sometimes age doesn't mean as much as people think it does due to the different at which people age during their lifetimes. In terms of power, Austin's right hand - his most dangerous weapon - is formidable particularly against opponents with weak chins and poor stamina like Wladmir.

Austin likes to stay on the outside and control the action with his jab, not much of a weapon, but effective nonetheless. Once he as his opponent thinking jab, he come behind with a long right hand that carries a lot of Austin's weight behind it, so that when it lands, it has more impact and often knocks his opponents backwards from the effects. His weakness, though, is his unsteady work rate, as he often will lesson up on his opponents if they're not doing much in return. In that regard, he makes the mistake of fighting down to his opponents level, minimizing his considerable talent in the ring. However, against tough opposition, similar to Sultan Ibragimov, Austin fights like a Tiger, letting his hands go and landing wicked shots. I think in a lot of ways, he doesn't even know how good he is or can be, if he believed in himself completely.

As a fan of boxing, I've seen many of Wladimir's most important fights, including all of his three losses - Ross Puritty, Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster - as well as his close call wins over DaVarryl Williamson and Sam Peter, both of whom came within a whisker of beating Wladimir and sending him into Palookaville. Now, I'm not going to try to explain away these three losses nor am I going to attempt to brush aside the close call wins, like many of Wladimir's most ardent fans tend to do when presented with cold, hard facts about his uneven boxing career. I'm not going to whitewash it for you guys, since that's not how I call fights.

If I was to explain why Wladimir has lost, and will continue loss, perhaps tomorrow against Austin, I'd say that Wladimir is a simple fighter, one who had loads of potential early on in his career, notably after winning the Olympic gold medal in the 1996 Olympics, but has seemed less than dedicated to boxing since then.

I'd say for the past six years, he's seem more interested in living the good life, traveling constantly, and being worshiped like a God in Germany, where there are few real talented fighters, enabling Wladimir to stand out like a sore thumb among the mediocrity. Over there, growing fat between the ears, Wladimir has seemed to buy into his own press, appearing to believe that he was as good as he was projected by the gullible, fawning, German fans.

So much was he buying into the hype, Wladimir paid for it by getting knocked out on three occasions as I mentioned earlier. Still, he rarely sparred until Emmanuel Steward took over, who quickly changed some of Wladimir's poor training methods around, yet he has seemed to absorb very little of Steward's vast boxing wisdom, still appearing completely out of his depth at times in his bouts against good opposition.

Try as he might, Steward has failed - and will continue to - in transforming Wladimir into a Lennox Lewis clone. You see, it's too late for that, Wladimir doesn't have the mental capacity, that certain something, call if love for boxing, or whatever that is required to take him to the level of a Lewis. Therefore, Wladimir will continue to fight erratically, winning some, and getting violently knocked out in others.

I fear that Wladimir will lose, and lose badly against Austin, like it or not. Austin's chin is just too good, and with his superb stamina, he'll still be launching bombs long after Wladimir has tired out (usually by the 7th round). As Wladimir's power drains away after round six or seven, Austin will come on and take over the bout, and end it quickly with a few right hands that will put Wladimir flat on his back. It's not to say that Wladimir has no chance, but if he is to win, it will have to be early. He'll have to "floor it," to use a phrase, and go all out like he used to earlier in his career, before he was trained by Steward.

After all, Wladimir is really more of a clone of someone like Tommy Hearns, a devastating knockout puncher in the first six rounds of a fight, than a fighter like Lewis, who could drape himself on his opponent and wear him out in the later rounds. If Wladimir fights in this style, just blasting Austin over the first six rounds, I have no doubts that Wladimir would win. However, that's not him anymore, having been changed by Steward in the last couple of years under his training. Too bad, that was Wladimir’s best chance at winning.

Prediction: Austin by 8th round knockout.

Article posted on 11.03.2007

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