Wladimir Klitschko, Number One?

01.09.04 - By Coach Tim Walker: One could argue that the only person who understands how Wladimir Klitschko feels these days is Wladimir Klitschko. He has been to the mountain top. He has looked over the crest and seen the heavyweight trees and watched those who would attack his throne work their way up the mountain. But I donít agree. If Wladimir wants to talk to someone who knows how it feels to be looked at as almost being good enough then he only needs to look across from his gym locker.

Like tennis superstar Serena of the Williams family, Wladimir is the younger sibling in a superstar family that includes his older brother Vitali. Like Serena, Wladimir got the benefit of watching his older sibling make mistakes and make corrections. And like Serena, all Wladimir had to do was learn the end result of those mistakes and apply them to his craft. For a while it seemed as though Wladimir had learned those lessons and learned them well.

In his first 21 fights he has 19 KOís, 1 unanimous decision, and 1 boxer to get disqualified as a result of the pounding he was getting. He may have also become a victim of his own success in his next bout against journeyman boxer Ross Purity. In the 11th round his corner stopped the bout as it seemed the favored Klitschko had run out of gas. Whether it was a lack of training or too much training or that the planets were not in line, the end result was written in stone. Most of the boxing public called the loss a fluke and did not hold it against the burgeoning star.

Following the lose to Purity he reeled off 16 more impressive wins including defeats of Jamel McCline, Ray Mercer, Fancois Botha, Charles Shufford, Derrick Jefferson, Chris Byrd, and Monte Barrett. In this stretch he looked more impressive as he mustered up 15 early stops in the 16 wins. The only fighter to go the distance is current IBF Heavyweight Champion Chris Byrd.

Most of the boxing world, though enthusiasts in the staters were reluctant, was crowning Wladimir the next great heavyweight champion. It was time to pass the torch. People had grown weary of Mike Tysonís shenanigans and did not want to see Evander Holyfield absorb any more punishment. Lennox Lewis, who was almost universally accepted as the real heavyweight champion at the time, was contemplating retirement. Roy Jones had snuck in and taken John Ruizís title and virtually no one was interested in seeing Chris Byrd.

A buzz started building around who would fight whom and the possibilities of unifying the heavyweight titles. Wladimir vs. Lennox, or Lennox vs. Tyson, or Tyson vs. Wladimir were considered the only real players. No one knew what would happen. The only thing we did know was that there would never be a fight between Wladimir and Vitali. You remember Vitali the older brother who wasnít as good as the one who walked in his shadow when they were kids.

Lennox had in his mind to beat Tyson then destroy the future of the heavyweight division by dispatching of Vitali then Wladimir. He got the beating Tyson part right and then witnessed a world shocker. Wladimir signed to fight an aged golf playing boxer named Corrie Sanders. Sanders was known to pack a mean punch but wasnít seriously looked at as being in the same league with Wladimir who had plans of moving to United States to help bolster his image after winning the setup fight.

Wladimir trained for a 12 round fight, Sanders trained for a 3 round fight and then the bell rang. The bells never stopped ringing for Wladimir as Sanders would go on to knock down the heavyweight darling four times within two rounds. As he crashed to the floor for the fourth time referee Rodriguez waived the fight off and the boxing world was shocked. Perhaps more shocked than when Lennox punished Tyson. But, the boxing world again forgave the slip-up in desperation of a needed real champion.

After a slight layoff, Wladimir took a couple of confidence building fights against Fabio Eduardo Moli and Danell Nicholson. He dispatched of them fairly easily. During this same time period Vitali, you know the older brother, impressively embarrassed Kirk Johnson and was unanimously beating the tea bags out of Lennox Lewis before the fight was stopped on cuts in the sixth round.

Wladimirís confidence was reestablished and the WBO title which he lost to Sanders was floating around. In came a heavyweight nail for Doctor Steelhammer by the name of Lamon Brewster. Another setup fight to get him started on the road to unification and his move to U.S. and the land of millions. Again the stamina and chin of Wladimir was exposed as he lost to the unknown boxer who wasnít ranked in any organized bodyís top ten.

Now Wladimir begins to feel the public outcry. Emotions have been invested in the younger Klitschko. Time and energy has been invested. Countless arguments have been launched via the television, radio and internet to prove and disprove his worth as a champion, or even worse, and worth as a boxer. Has he has reached his last stanza? Is this the ending in an almost stellar career?

But wait! We are all human and that means that we are all prone to screwing up every now and then. Give him (another) chance! After all we gave Tyson seven or ten chances. Okay so heís got another chance to get it together and it comes in the form of DaVarryl Williamson a 26th ranked heavyweight who turned pro at the ripe age of 32 years. If he wins he will be allowed to move on. But if he losses this fight against this type of foe, if he canít produce, if he canít anneal that putty of a chin then I am afraid that his chances will have run out.

Boxing is a fickle sport and its participants flip more than the cool side of the pillow. Still they know what they want. The boxing world wants a champion and prefers it to be Wladimir. But if he canít get it together then that double sided sticky tape that holds his picture in place as the best heavyweight alive will lose its stickiness and someone elseís mug shot will fill in just nice.

Who knows maybe the number one ranked heavyweight in the world is actually the best heavyweight in the world. You know, the other Klitschko, Vitali whose losses have abstracts. Maybe itís time for Wladimir to get back into the shadows of his older brother. Things must have been a lot easier then

Article posted on 01.09.2004

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