Dimitrenko Stops Hoffmann: Wild Night in Germany

alexander dimitrenko17.11.07 - By Jim Furo: Well, that's the fight game for ya. Sometimes you can wait months for a fight to come around that, when it does happen, turns out to be a mismatch, a disappointing and/or all around dull affair that made you wonder why you cared that much to begin with. Then there are those other times, the moments when a fight sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise because you had not paid it that much attention...until you started to watch it. Saturday's match between Alexander Dimitrenko and Timo Hoffmann turned out to be one of those kind of fights.

Maybe it's because I did not think too much of the opponents that I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, but what was written off as sure to be dull affair became a very good heavyweight fight.

Timo Hoffmann has always been a fighter with a pretty slow, plodding work rate. His biggest claim to fame was that he had never been knocked out and that includes a fight in 2000 where he became the only man to ever go the distance with Vitali Klitschko before or since.

Never a title threat, Hoffmann has always been a necessary fighter. A good fighter to have around that would get up from knockdowns, and always fought respectably. Hoffmann could always be counted on to fight gamely through a 10 or 12 round affair against other fighters destined to never leave the EBU rankings but were not professional losers.

Dimitrenko, on the other hand, I have always been a little uncertain about. Unlike Timo, Dimitrenko is a prospect, and like many prospects, one becomes a little suspicious until they actually prove their mettle in the ring. With a large frame, but perhaps not as big of a punch as his 6' 7" frame would have you believe, Dimitrenko seemed like he might just be taken out when he came across an opponent that would stand up to him.

Proving, once again, that styles and matchmaking makes fights, it was just that clash of personalities that often made the fight a very good and enjoyable one.

Looking every inch like a baby faced Ivan Drago in red trunks, Dimitrenko started out the fight much like you imagined he would. Always a good mover, especially when you consider his huge build and weight, Dimitrenko looked even faster when in the ring with the slow but rugged Hoffmann.

The Ukrainian was at times showboating, at times taking turns pushing and being pushed to the canvas, and at other times piercing the guard of Hoffman with his long and respectable jab. Though Hoffman did enough to win the first round, in the second round, Dimitrenko was landing some good body shots on Hoffmann that looked like they had Hoffmann at more than a little hurt and demonstrated his ability to put punches together very nicely.

In round four, the fight truly upped its pace when Dimitrenko was able to send Hoffmann to the canvas, twice. Once by a push, the other legitimately. In that knockdown, Hoffmann was nearly sent out of the ring between the ropes. Both were ruled knockdowns.

Dimitrenko was doing his best to inflict as much damage on Hoffmann in that fourth round, no doubt thinking of how nicely a fourth round knockout would look on his resume against someone never who had been knocked out before.

But Hoffmann is no a soft touch. He was able to not only last that round, but to put Dimitrenko on the canvas in the next! Tracking him down in the neutral corner, Hoffman caught Dimitrenko on the ropes and dropped him with a couple of well timed shots.

Sensing what this fight was, one with a good amount of give and take that could have any one of a number of possible outcomes, the German fans located their patriotism and started to chant "Timo" "Timo" "Timo" where before you only heard the cries of "Sascha."

But now it was Dimitrenko's turn to show heart and hold on. Dimitrenko made it through the round, but looked very tired throughout it and at the start of the next.

With six rounds down and the fight all but even, things went much more as expected from that moment on, losing some of its intensity as Hoffmann looked tired and Dimitrenko looked more than a little gun shy and more than a little worried that Hoffmann would time him on a counter. Which was, of course, what Hoffmann was looking to do.

Just when the fight seemed to be moving towards a UD for Dimitrenko, a decision that even the most casual of fight fan could have predicted, but not one that would capture this, at times, very crazy bout, things took another bizarre turn in the final round.

Meeting in the center of the ring, Dimitrenko landed more solidly during the first minute, until Hoffmann crowded him and he was pushed down on the canvas. With about a 30 second rest, the fight continued and Dimitrenko half pushed, have punched Hoffmann to the canvas for the first time in what was ruled a knockdown. A head butt clearly hurt Dimitrenko, who then knocked down Hoffmann with a little extra push once Timo was already on the canvas. Seconds later, Hoffman was up only to be sent to the canvas in what looked more like a push than a third or second knockdown. The fight was then called off, with just thirty seconds left. A relieved Dimitrenko celebrated joyfully amongst boos and chants of "Timo" from the German crowd.

Hoffmann deserved better. He was in good enough shape and had fought rugged enough that he deserved to hear the final bell and hold on to his beaten, but never beaten down, record.

In what will be ruled a TKO win victory over an opponent never knocked out before, Dimitrenko must be congratulated. Now, when people write about him, they will no doubt bring up that he is the first and only person who was able to accomplish that feat of knocking out the durable German heavyweight.

But the questions still arise concerning him. How good is the chin? How strong of a punch can he take? How hard of a hitter is he really? How much better will he be as he gets older (despite being a name for several years he is still just 25, which for heavyweights is grade school).

One thing that can be said, he is capable of fighting in a fight that is an enjoyable one to watch, and I will be much more interested in his next fight, which may or may not disappoint.

Article posted on 18.11.2007

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