After his loss to Klitschko, Can Brewster Ever Regain his Championship form?

lamon brewster09.07.07 - By Gary Jones: Going in to last Saturday night’s bout between IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (49-3, 44 Kos) and challenger Lamon Brewster (33-4, 29 KOs), a sizable a mount of people thought that Brewster had a decent chance at another upset of the giant Ukrainian fighter.

However, one look at Brewster’s body language going into the ring, most people would have quickly changed their mind if they thought about it. Brewster, 34, appeared demoralized before he had even thrown a punch in anger, looking much like he didn’t want to be in the ring facing Wladimir at that moment. There was zero eye contact of any kind from Brewster.

In fact, he pretty much kept his eyes glued to the ground from the moment he entered the ring up until the action started. In contrast, in Brewster’s first bout with Wladimr, he looked engaged and ready for combat from the outset of the fight, both meeting Wladimir’s stair down and seeming very much alert.

What could have changed since then? I don’t buy into the argument that Brewster is suddenly over-the-hill, which many fans including writers, have been saying recently to explain away his one-sided loss to Klitschko. It may be, as one writers claimed, that Brewster has had an accumulation of things happen in a short period of time, some of which were by his own choosing. Below, I look at series of problems that perhaps more than anything, led to his recent poor performance against Wladimir Klitschko:

Eye surgery- In his fight against Serguei Liakhovich in April 2006, Brewster injured his left eye, which as everyone knows, required surgery to repair a detached retina. Consequently, Brewster took off 15 months from the ring while the injury slowly healed. This alone, would account for a certain of amount of rustiness to set in, since Brewster wasn’t able to fight during that time and his skills eroded somewhat during the long stretch. Add to that, the possibly worry that Brewster may have had both going into the bout and during the actual fighting, wondering whether the eye would be able to hold up under a pounding from Klitschko.

Brewster’s bout with Liakhovich- Brewster’s last fight with Liakhovich was one of the most brutal heavyweight fights in some time, and the punches that both fighters – in particular, Brewster – were forced to absorb, were devastating. Although it wasn’t the type of fight to have an immediate effect physically on Brewster, it possibly effected him mentally afterwards, in which he made it a point to avoid taking the same amount of punishment in future bouts. The problem with this, however, is that taking punishment was the way that Brewster had been able to beat fighters with better skills, such as Wladimir Klitschko.

New trainer- Since signing on with trainer Buddy McGirt, Brewster’s once effective aggressive style of fighting has undergone a negative change from that of being a puncher to where he seems to be attempting to try to turn into a boxer. Some of the changes like the addition of head movement, are a positive but the other changes have been less than successful. At this point, I think it’s wrong-headed to try and change what has worked for Brewster in the past. He got to where he was because of his aggressive slugging style, having made it all the way from being a good amateur fighter with Olympic experience all the way to becoming a heavyweight champion of the world. To mess with that at this point is the wrong move in my view. This is not to take anything away from McGirt, whom I believe is an excellent trainer, by the way, but he’s not suited for Brewster’s style. If at all possible, I’d recommend Brewster to go back to his old trainer or, if possible, someone like Kevin Rooney.

Intense media scrutiny about the beatings he suffered- Another factor in Brewster’s down fall is the intense scrutiny that has been made about some of his knockdown fights that he’s had in the last several years, specifically in his first bout with Wladimir Klitschko, and fights afterwards against Kali Meehan, Luan Krasniqi and Serguei Liakhovich. In those four fights, Brewster took abnormal amount of head shots, yet at the same time, he was mostly successful in each of those bouts, and was able to dish out almost equal punishment. I think perhaps Brewster may have bout into some of the press, and agreed with them, thinking he had taken too much punishment.

Weight loss- In his bout with Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday night, Brewster looked considerably thinner and less muscular than he had in recent fights, appearing to have over-trained for the fight. With this lack of his normal bulk, he appeared to have lost a great deal of power on his shots, which unfortunately is a by product of fighter having lost a too much weight. If Brewster had been gone into the bout with the same size as in his previous bouts, I’m guessing he’d have had better shot at landing something big on Wladimir, possibly changing the outcome.

Change in fighting style- As I mentioned previously, Brewster’s fighting style went through a drastic change in his recent bout with Wladimir Klitschko. The decision to try and box Wladimir, rather than pressuring him with an aggressive all-out attack, was a disastrous mistake. If Brewster or his trainer, had looked at any of Wladimir’s previous fights, they would have seen that it’s almost fatal for his opponents to stay on the outside and try to box with him. In cases where they do choose to stay on the outside, Wladimir is easily picks them off with his long jab and finishes them off in short order with his right hand.

Lack of tune-up fight- The decision for Brewster to take on Wladimir without a tune-up fight in between, was a risky gamble and one almost doomed from the start. Of course, I can see Brewster’s point, though, since how often to fighters get a shot at a heavyweight title, especially after having lost their previous fight? Nonetheless, after an injury as serious as a detached retina, it would have been smarter and safer for Brewster to have by passed the heavyweight title shot, instead focusing on starting out slowly with an easier opponent. As it is, Brewster may have undermined his confidence with this loss, and make it out to be more than it actually is.

If you take out all of the aforementioned categories with which Brewster appeared to have made some poor decisions, I think he would have had a better than average chance at pulling off another upset against Wladimir. However, what’s done is down, and Brewster has to move on from here. I think it’s not too late for him to make the needed changes to become a heavyweight champion again, but for that to happen, he’s going to have to go back to his old style of fighting, and stop thinking safety first. He’ll never be a boxer-type of fighter in the Chris Byrd mold, and the sooner he realizes this, the better. I do think, however, he should ply his trade in another section of the heavyweight division, preferably the WBA or the WBO, because I think he’d have an excellent chance of beating the weaker heavyweight champions – Ruslan Chagaev and Sultan Ibragimov – both of whom appear to be a couple steps down from Oleg Maskaev and Wladimir Klitschko.

Article posted on 10.07.2007

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