Boxing

'Call Em Out Fridays': Wladimir Klitschko - On The Brink, Or Not What You Think?

povetkin vs sykes18.07.08 - By Vivek Wallace, photo courtesy of Klitschko.com: In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we call-out a fighter who most see as a man standing firmly at the brink of greatness, yet to some, he's still viewed as merely a wishing well of untapped potential. In standard 'Call Em Out Fridays' fashion, we'll take a look at all perspectives involved with this spectacle, to include the supportive fan perspective, the non-supportive critic perspective, and after getting a glimpse of my thoughts, we turn it over to you, the avid fight aficionado to chime in with yours. After calling out Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, and a host of others, this week we shine the spotlight on the man known to most as Dr. Sledgehammer......Mr. Wladimir Klitschko.

Wladimir Klitschko - (Supportive Fan Perspective): In today's era of Super-Heavyweights, what more could you ask for than a man who stands at a firm 6'6", 241 lbs, with the power of an ox? If you find yourself hard-pressed to conjure up an answer, it's probably because there's very little else you need to add to mix that potent. Going back to his days in the amateur ranks, Wladimir was well documented as a fighter with better than average skills, and well above superb power. In 140 amateur fights, he only suffered 6 losses, with 65 victories ending within the distance. Wladimir first put the world on notice when he claimed the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. This accomplishment was very grand, but as his pro career kicked off, it became evident that the younger Klitschko brother would enjoy many other great ring moments. For the last 4 years, the brute strength of Wladimir has been more than enough to cut through the competition in today's thin Heavyweight ranks. Physical tools at his disposal make it easy to think that he could very well hold his straps easily for another 4 to 5 years. The thunderous jabs that he delivers, only a precious few have been able to withstand over the course of a grueling 12 round affair. Earlier in his career there were a few glitches in the armor of Klitschko that were perceived to be minor, yet it would appear that they were all worked out quite well under the guidance of famed trainer Emanuel Steward, who has watched him go undefeated over the last 4 years, a span of 9 victories and no losses. Despite the great record of recent times, the last few title defenses staged by Wladimir have given new reason to speculate about those once perceived to be 'minor' glitches in the armor. That's where the view of the critic comes into play.....

Wladimir Klitschko - (The Critics Perspective): Despite no losses in the last 4 years and a career ring record of 51-3, 45KO's, the rising demand for his pure, unquestionable dominance in the Heavyweight ranks have gone from a mere whisper to a bold cadence, and the verbal taunts have started full tilt in his direction. The physical attributes that make him a strong force are apparently one in the same with the perceived issue in which he has recently come under fire for. Many feel that a man as physically gifted and talented as Wladimir stands should find victory much easier than he has in recent times. Whether or not that's a fair statement remains a point of contention among fight fans, but considering that these are all Heavyweights and any one blow can end the show, it's safe to say that all things must remain equal. The hardcore questions about Wladimir first came about back in '98 when he faced the gritty and seasoned Ross Purity. Wladimir was winning the fight with ease but found himself totally winded down the stretch and was unable to answer an 11th round flurry as his trainer - then Fritz Sdunek - jumped in to stop the bout. To his credit, this was the first time in his career that Klischko had gone this far in a fight, but stamina is the last thing that anyone would consider to be an issue in a man who appears to be in such stellar shape. The questions really began to mount up when Wladimir later suffered 2 losses within a 4 fight span to two talented, yet not exactly formidable opponents in Corrie Sanders (TKO2), and Lamon Brewster (TKO5). So in addition to the stamina question, the chin has become the new 'knock' on Wladimir. Adding to those frustrations is the tendency to grapple and hold during fights which most attribute to potential conditioning issues as well. All in all, there are many angles that the critics take when analyzing Wladimir, and despite the victories and strong KO average, many continue to feel that if you can get to him before he gets to you, the job can be done.

Wladimir Klitschko - (My Perspective): When looking at the physical attributes and understanding the 'art' of the 'science', I can definitely say that it's difficult to understand why Wladimir hasn't been more dominant than we've seen. I think you have to credit him for a tireless effort to train and do the things necessary to stay on top, but I personally fall in that still-somewhat-silent majority that thinks Wladimir has more talent in his left pinkie than half the division; Therefore laboring to win the way we often see him leads me to ponder what exactly is it that he lacks? We all know that outside of the ring he's probably one of the smartest individuals in the sport. Does that great intelligence lead to too many questions in a mind playing tricks on him during fight night? Is the three KO losses of his past producing nerves which evaporate the energy level he walks into the ring with? All of these speculations are valid, and in the end, they all lead to the same question in my mind: "Why is it that a guy who has all the talent in the world such a monotone to watch"? That's the fan perspective within me. But the journalistic neutral-objector side within says that every fighter who laces up a pair is in the business for one thing and one thing only. That's to get "W"'s. And if Wladimir can get "W"'s, pretty or not, they all count the same. At its best, Klitschko will probably go down as the dominant Heavyweight of an era that lacked a true talent pool, but regardless of how it happens, his talent will land him in the history books of the sport. I may not like the way in which he gets there while you may, but his mission is to win and get there. And to this point, as awkward as he's looked doing it, he's gonna do it. That is unless he falls on the receiving end of one too many 'Haye-Makers', which for his career and legacy could signal 'Lights-Out'. So to pose that million dollar question....Is Wladimir Klitschko on the brink of greatness, or simply the cusp of perpetual underachievement? Now that you have my answer, it's time to hear yours! Fight fans....Sound off!

(Check out next weeks '7-Gun Salute' to the upcoming Antonio Margarito/Miguel Cotto showdown....The 7-Day lineup will include the following):

Monday: Mexico vs Puerto Rico - A Sweet Science With Bitter Chemistry (Chronicle of the rivalry from past to current)
Tuesday: Cotto/Margarito - Great Triumphs In The Face Of Adversity (A look at their greatest ring moments)
Wednesday: 'Left-Hook Lounge' Fan Q&A Mailbag (All questions relative to the upcoming fight)
Thursday: Cotto/Margarito - The Men, The Myth (A look at the lives of the two men at center stage)
Friday: 'Call Em Out Fridays': (Calling both men out...Time to put up or shut up)
Saturday: Fight Analysis and Predictions
Sunday: Post fight Analysis

(Got Questions or Feedback? Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at vivexmail@yahoo.com or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)

Article posted on 18.07.2008



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