The Heavyweights

23.03.09 - By James Lovett: As WBC Heavyweight Champion Vitali Kilitschko recorded a 9th round stoppage win over brave challenger Juan Carlos Gomez this Saturday evening in Germany, the same story unfolded, repeated on forums and boxing websites throughout the world time and time again: "he was too heavy". As an Englishman watching myself, I couldn't disagree.

I am not referring to Vitali Klitschko here, or critisizing Juan Carlos Gomez for his belief that increased weight would increase his chances of victory on Saturday, rather reviewing the trainers of these fighters, their motivational skills and who fail to learn from predeseccors mistakes..

Take Samuel Peter for example, team Gomez must of watched tapes of his fight vs Vitali and seen a fighter who's increased bulk meant he was too static, gassed after a bright couple of opening rounds - playing into the bigger mans hands - subsequently taking far too many head shots before quitting on his stool in the 8th round.

The reason? He was too heavy! In 2001 Peter began his career as a heavyweight weighing 229lbs aged 21. You would believe this would be his natural weight. Ok, so fighters may increase in mass as they age, but an extra 30lbs in the next 7 years? For the fight of your life vs Vitali Klitschko, you weigh 253lbs? Weight training? Difficult to tell if he has. Although he looks in reasonable shape for his weight, I believe if he had weighed in the same against either Klitschko the same as he had at the beginning of his career, his chances of victory would of increased massively. If he has been better conditioned, would he have been able to follow up his knockdowns of Wladimir in 2006, upping his punch-rate when it really mattered? Would he of avoided more headshots from Vitali by being fitter with more movement and maybe hit him cleaner himself, changing the course of the fight? We'll never know if the Klitschko's are simply better no matter what the size of Peter is, but I believe the real Samuel Peter, the hard punching, no-nonsence Samuel Peter, didn't show up those two nights.

Peter could argue his weight has done him no harm, after all apart from 2 losses to either Klitschko brother he has beaten top ranked fighters such as Oleg Maskaev and James Toney. Who are we to argue with that. I have never done it.

But did he just beat these at his own game? - i.e. overweight fighters with diminished performances? Did he just happen to have the extra youth, natural strength (in the case of Toney), harder punching power and/or better boxing skills to win?

Against the Klitschkos you are not going to be stronger, you will most likely be outreached unless you are Nicolay Valuev , so you need to set a tempo for 12 rounds where you can look to avoid the constant jab with lots of head movement.

Peter's weight meant he failed to do this. Maybe it just wasn't in him.

Juan Carlos Gomez is a different story. He should of seen this. He is an excellent counter puncher. He most definately can box. A classy operator who showed this against Wladimir Virchis, a 6'7 fighter. He showed occasions in the victory he could counter punch with head movement. However, Virchis is no Klitschko. Not by along way. His conditioning should of been upped further, his 233lbs frame trimmed by another 10lbs, his road runs longer, sparring more intense, practice what he set out to do on fightnight. As a former Cruiserweight who weight an average of around 180lbs in his early career, who's natural and optimum weight is probably around 210lbs-220lbs maximum, why is he weighing 230lbs for the fight he was been waiting for his whole life? If he was "in the best shape of his life" like they say why didn't he remove his shirt for the weigh-in? An optimum peak Gomez would of counter pounched more successfully, and in my opinion, had the ability to rock Vitali with his handspeed. Vitali is 37 years old. The last thing he would of wanted is a fast, sharp quick handed counter puncher who could of pushed him 12 rounds.

Where are the trainers to push these fighters? A heavyweight should train as hard as any other division. They are professional athletes! That's not an excuse to train then eat a McDonalds on the way home.

I fear the same for Chris Arreola should he get a shot against Wladimir Klitschko. I really do. He has the tools to stop Klitschko. He was a National-Golden gloves light-heavyweight champion at 20! How do you increase your weight to 254lbs for Travis Walker! In contrast, will he be conditioned enough to beat the blizzard of jabs that will face him.

I don't care what anyone says. Extra weight will not help these fighters absorb the shots of a bigger man. If you get hit cleanly at heavyweight, you are going down. Extra conditioning means more movement, punches are more likely to scuff or parry off the head or shoulder.

Maybe Gomez, Peter or Arreola are never good enough in the first place. Maybe David Haye isn't - who sets the example other contenders should follow. They don't even have to be body beautiful, just in shape and ready for 12 rounds of movement. They may lose at their optimum fitness, but at least they can say they tried. Then the Klitschko brothers can get the praise they rightly deserve, always in shape and beat everyone infront of them; whilst the contenders, and the division, can restore some pride following the glory years of the division in the 20th century.

Article posted on 22.03.2009

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