Sharkie’s Machine: Dr. Iron Fist Klitschko TKO’s Black Panther Gomez in Nine

Vitali KlitschkoBy Frank Gonzalez Jr., March 22, 2009: On Saturday evening, ESPN 2 aired the Heavyweight Championship fight between WBC titlist Vitali Klitschko (37-2, 36 KO’s) against Juan Carlos Gomez (44-2, 35 KO’s). The fight took place in a 'no where to run to,' tiny ring at the Hanns Martin Schleyer Halle in Stuttgart Germany.

Klitschko has sparred with Gomez and they know each other a bit. After being away from boxing for almost four years and then coming back and administering a beating to former titlist Sam Peter, Vitali Klitschko looked great. He made easy work of Peter, who’s usually a very tough fight for anyone. Vitali didn’t expect the southpaw Gomez to be an easy fight.

For a HW fight, this one was fairly entertaining. The first round was almost comical since it was little more than a pawing contest that looked funny since Klitschko is orthodox and Gomez fights southpaw. From way up in the cheap seats, it must’ve looked like a two dimensional sword fight with jabs. Gomez managed to land the cleaner punches in that first round. Klitschko was fighting tall, letting Gomez come in, in hopes of landing a big right. Instead, Gomez landed three clean lefts before the round ended.

The second round saw Klitschko pick up the tempo. Both guys boxed in a cautiously aggressive manner; pawing forward and trying to land their power punches in close. Gomez landed a few but they weren’t flush and he was starting to clinch more than might’ve been helpful. Klitschko landed a straight right to the chin that stung Gomez. Midway into the round, Klitschko looked a bit slow but he still maintained command of the action by shooting his three quarter jabs and throwing rights often enough to land a few good ones that took a toll on Gomez.

As the fight continued, Klitschko landed more frequently and though Gomez was able to land here and there, it wasn’t ever enough to change the momentum. At times, Klitschko moved backwards as Gomez pressed with his jab, which was effective in terms of moving Klitschko backward but ineffective in terms of landing anything meaningful.

By the fourth, Klitschko was breathing with his mouth open but he was still popping Gomez with clean shots to the face, one that caused a bit of swelling over Gomez’ right eye. By the early fifth round, a Klitschko right opened that swelling eye into a streaming cut. Gomez kept coming forward. A series of full extension jabs and rights by Klitschko near the end of the rounds saw Gomez starting to fade. Klitschko increased his output in the sixth and Gomez was taking some punishment. Gomez went down from a slip that was ruled as such. The strings were getting looser for Gomez, who would try to work his way inside and then, instead of punch, he’d clinch and surrender his opportunities to score, in favor of a little oxygen.

In the seventh, as was typical of each round, Gomez landed the first few shots and then Klitschko went to work, landing a few jabs followed by rights that were landing, often flush. Klitschko suffered a cut on his head that saw a slim streak of blood run down his face. Gomez landed a left and then Klitschko landed a left and a big right that put Gomez down. Gomez was up at six. Klitschko rallied, landing a few more rights until Gomez clinched and Klitschko tried to get out of the clinch but the two big men wrestled and fell to the canvas. When action resumed, Klitschko landed a right left combo twice before the bell.

The eighth was more of the same, with Klitschko punching and Gomez resigned to clinching. Klitschko dropped his left hand low, stalking Gomez from outside and then moved left, away from whatever power Gomez may have had left in his left hand. Gomez looked disheartened as he nearly turned his back to Klitschko, but to Gomez credit, he turned and fought like a man. Klitschko popped Gomez with a pair of rights and a left that staggered Gomez right before the bell.

In the ninth, Klitschko continued his assault, landing a left and another big right. During one exchange, Klitschko landed a left to the face. Gomez clinched. Gomez was cut on his other eye, probably from the left to the face. The referee, Daniel Van de Wiele took a point from Vitali for an intentional head butt. I watched the replay a few times in slow motion and didn’t see a head butt. But it would matter not, because seconds later, Klitschko landed a swinging right that put Gomez down again. Gomez was up at seven. When action resumed, Klitschko went for the finish, tagging Gomez into the ropes and nearly through the ropes when the ref stopped the fight. The time was 1:49 of round 9.

I didn’t expect Gomez would last nine rounds against the most dangerous man at Heavyweight but he did give a fairly game performance. Gomez gave Klitschko a tougher fight than Sam Peter did and if he were a little more aggressive instead of cautious, who knows how far this fight might’ve gone. Vitali showed a few chinks in his armor in this fight but Gomez wasn’t inclined to exploit them.

Congratulations to Vitali Klitschko, who retains his title and leaves us all with the question; WHO—will he fight next?

The most logical fight would be against WBA titlist Ruslan Chagaev (25-0-1, 17 KO’s), who just fought in February and should be available to Klitschko in a few months. I suspect Vitali wants to take the easy road though and fight Nicolay Valuev (50-1, 34 KO’s), who Klitschko would likely beat within five rounds, if not two. Valuev is one of the slowest fighters in all of boxing; he’s seven feet tall but awkward and plodding. It would be a waste to fight against Valuev. It just wouldn’t be entertaining. More deserving would be Alexander Dimitrenko (29-0, 19KO’s), a fellow Ukrainian who is also six foot seven, just like Vitali. That would be an interesting fight! What about Alexander Povetkin or David Haye (22-1, 21 KO’s) Or, how about a wild card, like rising star Chris Arreola (26-0, 23KO’)? (Truth is Arreola should fight Haye to qualify to fight Vitali). Arreola is still a bit green but he can take a punch and come back with barrages of punches. In a word, he’s dangerous.

With brother Wladimir in possession of the IBF and WBO titles, that leaves the WBA title the focus for WBC champ Vitali to ‘even up’ the dream of being champion at the same time with his brother without fighting each other. If both had two major titles simultaneously, the dream would be complete. That dream can only happen because there are no more unified Champions in boxing today. If the brothers Klitschko ever did fight each other, I’d lean towards Vitali to win because he’s the tougher of the two. But Wladimir is the better technical fighter who might test his brother’s jaw like none since Lennox Lewis did a few years ago. It is a great “what if…” argument.

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Article posted on 22.03.2009

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