Boxing


One Man and his Jab: Vladimir Klitschko Does What he Does Best in Mannheim

Wladimir KlitschkoBy Joe Mills: When Hasim Rahman had his last throw of the championship dice tonight in Mannheim, Germany he didn’t roll a six, but instead got rolled over in seven. The WBO/IBF/IBO Heavyweight Champion of the World Wladimir Klitschko was simply too much for “The Rock” on this night. The reigning titlist entered a controlled performance built brilliantly on his jab.

Round one began with Hasim fighting out of a crouch position to try and avoid the left of Klitschko that has been so domineering in recent years. He found little solace in this position as “Dr Steelhammer” rammed his head back with the abrasive punch. In the second Rahman adopted some roughhousing tactics on the inside, with a few punches winging past Wladimir’s ear and onto the back of his skull. At this point it seemed like the emotionally fragile Rahman was already going into survival mode, and a glancing Klitschko right ended another one-sided round.

Round three was different only for the fact that Rahman abandoned the crouch, and in fact any movement at all, for a “rope-a-dope” strategy. Ali it was not, as Wladimir effortlessly landed draining punches with no return from his opponent except for the odd feint. The champion stung his challenger with a crisp jab-right-jab combination which inspired Rahman to come forward for the last 30 seconds of the round, however is flailing rights had little effect on the dominant Klitschko.

For the next two rounds Wladimir did not give an inch, stemming any flow of punches from Rahman with his ubiquitous straight left, occasionally hooking with it to great effect. It was the left hook that rendered Hasim horizontal when a barrage of said punches landed, followed by a glancing right to put him on his back in the sixth. Arguably referee Tony Weeks could have stopped the fight here as Wladimir landed a steady stream of punches to end the round, with no real riposte from his staggering foe.

The seventh began with Rahman looking like he wanted to be elsewhere, and Wladimir quickly complied with this as a two-handed barrage in the corner saw Weeks halt the action.

Wladimir Klitschko made this look as easy as most expected he would, by entering a masterful display. In truth Wladimir had this fight sewn up from the first round, but exercised his customary patience and perhaps a touch of reluctance carried over from his knockout setbacks a few years ago to beat Rahman. To his credit, Hasim didn’t look for an exit strategy as he has in the past against the likes of Evander Holyfield and last time out against James Toney. Instead he took his beating manfully and while his efforts came to nothing, he put down more effort than some recent Klitschko foes, Lamon Brewster for example.

It is clear where Rahman should go from here, and that is retirement. He hit his brief career peak seven years ago when he landed the right hand heard around the world on Lennox Lewis, and hasn’t looked close to the top level since his 2005-6 WBC reign. Wladimir on the other hand has possibly his career plateau in front of him as the first mega-money Heavyweight battle since Lewis’ reign is on the horizon if a deal can be made with David Haye. It will be intriguing to see Wladimir step out of his comfort zone, as Haye seems to pose the last existing threat to the brother’s Klitschko and their dominance of boxing’s blue ribbon division. For the first time since “Iron” Mike Tyson stalked boxing’s dark corridors, Heavyweight boxing looks interesting again. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Article posted on 14.12.2008



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