Is the ‘Klitschko Dream’ endangered?

wladimir klitschko24.04.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani: Not too long ago it seemed the unlikely “Klitschko Dream” might finally have a chance of coming to fruition. Of course, I’m referring to the dream held by Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko—the dream that each brother would simultaneously hold a portion of the heavyweight crown.

When a series of injuries prevented Vitali from defending his crown in late 2005, ultimately forcing him into retirement, it seemed the dream had died. As fate would have it, less than six months after retiring, Wladimir captured a portion of the heavyweight crown when he mercilessly pummeled Chris Byrd in a return bout between the two. Had Vitali been able to hold on just a bit longer, the dream would have been fulfilled (at least in part, for I believe specific details pertaining to the dream had all four belts—WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO—being split between the two).

The great thing about boxing is that retirements are often short-lived. Lo and behold, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the “Klitschko Dream” was resurrected. This, of course, became a reality early this year when Vitali confirmed rumors that he’d be making a comeback. He was tentatively slated to square off against reigning WBC champion Oleg Maskaev in Moscow this April. Meanwhile, Wladimir was slated to defend his IBF crown against his number one contender, Ray Austin.

For the Klitschkos, this seemed too good to be true. As it turns out, it was. For his part, Wladimir successfully defended his title against Austin in a complete and total mismatch. Vitali, however, was unable to secure his championship bout with Maskaev. Instead, Sam Peter will square off against Maskaev with Vitali waiting in the wings.

As things stand now, the “Klitschko Dream” is still alive, but the path just got a bit rockier. Instead of facing a soft champion in Maskaev, Vitali is going to have to beat Sam Peter—a much more daunting task. Peter might well have a field day with Vitali, whose fragile body will make a big target for the Nigerian pugilist. Further complicating matters: Wladimir is slated to have a rematch against Lamon Brewster.

Wladimir Klitschko is widely considered the best heavyweight on the planet, and rightly so. In my mind, there are only three opponents I think would stand a good chance at beating him. First, there’s Corrie Sanders who literally destroyed Wlad some four years back. I would pick Sanders to beat Wlad should these two ever fight again; the golfer’s left hand is all wrong for Wladimir. The second is Sam Peter. Wladimir won the first time these two met, and since that time, both fighters have made notable improvements; this would be a pick’em fight. The other fighter is Brewster, another pick’em fight.

No doubt, Wladimir is taking a return bout against Brewster at the best possible time. Brewster hasn’t fought in over a year, since losing his WBO title against Seguei Lyakhovich. Making matters worse, Brewster suffered a detached retina in that bout, so he’ll be both rusty and vulnerable. Even still, this is hardly a give-me fight for Wladimir. Brewster has proven that he’s one tough SOB, and additionally, he has a tremendous psychological advantage over Wladimir.

It’s true Wladimir has improved considerably under the tutorship of Steward. Ironically, the first time the two worked together was when Wlad punched himself out against Brewster in their first encounter. Since then, Steward has helped Wlad make improvements, most notably, during moments when he is hurt. When Wlad was hurt against Sanders and Brewster, he had no idea what to do. Since then, he’s proven to have a clue as evidenced by his bout with Peter when he survived multiple knockdowns.

Wladimir Klitschko should be commended for granting Brewster a rematch and taking on such a tough voluntary defense. A win against Brewster will do wonders for his legacy. But wouldn’t it be ironic if Brewster beat Wlad before Vitali even got his crack at a title? It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

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Article posted on 25.04.2007

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