Is Vitali Klitschko coming down the other side of the mountain?

24.03.09 - By P.H. Burbridge, photo by Pavel Terekhov - Well, Saturday has come and gone and weíve had a chance to digest Vitaliís performance against a game but woefully out gunned Juan Carlos Gomez. The fight itself was somewhat interesting for about three rounds and then settled into the kind of aesthetically displeasing affair weíve come to expect from Vitali. Sometimes he looks great and other times he looks pretty darn average..

boxingAgainst Gomez he looked pretty darn average. He was hit with a number of straight left hands from the southpaw Gomez and also looked gassed after about the 3rd round. He was taking a lot of deep breaths. He just looked flat in the fight. Watching this bout unfold gave me the overall sense that a David Haye or a Chris Arreola might not do as bad as people would expect against Vitali. VK is starting to look as if he can be outworked and he was carrying his right hand so low you have to wonder whatís going on. Has he hit the wall as a fighter? At 37 years old has Father Time tapped him on the shoulder? Suddenly he doesnít seem in Wladimirís class. Oh, I know VK probably has the better chin and he seems to have the mental toughness that WK has always been accused of lacking but one thing is abundantly clear. Wladimir is by far the best heavyweight on the planet and I donít think Vitali is even close to him at this point.

So, I beg the question is Vitali ready to be taken? Against Gomez he looked extremely uncomfortable early on because of the fast pace and also because of Juan Carlosí aggression. He was hit solid with a number of left hands. LEAD lefts if you can believe it. Gomez would have done himself a service by at least setting his left up with the jab. A nice stepping jab would have been the prescription. He did it in spots but at 35 years old his oxygen supply was limited. If Gomez could have maintained the pace he started in the first three rounds then this fight really would have been interesting. He did manage to get his shots in but he just didnít have enough power to really bother Vitali. Vitaliís performance may have been due to a lack of motivation considering that no one thought Gomez should even been in there with him. Including Vitali. When a fighter getís older it becomes tougher and tougher to get motivated for fights that he perceives as a waste of his time. Thatís the very reason Vitali does not want to fight Oleg Maskaev. In fact he intends on going to court to avoid a fight with Oleg. As far as Iím concerned Vitali should fight his mandatory. Do I want to see him fight Oleg? Not really. Iíd rather see him be tested by one of the young guns like Povetkin, Haye or Arreola but letís not forget that Vitali benefited from this champion emeritus status which a lot of people look at as complete BS and now he wants to skirt out of his obligations to very sanctioning body that gave him a one fight road to the championship? You canít have it both ways. If Oleg is the mandatory challenger then fight him.

Obviously, VK intends to go to court to try and avoid fighting Maskaev and you know how those things go. Iím sure the WBC will compromise and find a way to accommodate him. The WBC Iím sure want their champions fighting in the most lucrative bouts available because it all translates to larger sanctioning fees. Vitali has been clear that he would like his next fight to be against either David Haye or Chris Arreola. Well, Wladimir is very near to finalizing the deal with David Haye after three months of flipping each other off from across the negotiation table so Haye wonít be available. Arreola is the obvious choice to challenge Vitali. He has peopleís attention right now and it sounds like the Klitschko brothers are at least trying to give fight fans what they say they want by taking on the young guns. The timing seems right in terms of schedules as well. Of course thatís assuming that Arreola getís past McCline. McCline can be the spoiler in all this. He can make a mess of everyoneís plans with a win. If Jameel manages to get past Arreola then he could make the argument that he deserves a shot at Vitali. He and Vitali were scheduled to fight once but that fight never took place because Vitali had an injury. Obviously, Jameel would have to win BIG in order to create a reasonable argument for that fight to take place.

Not knowing how much McCline has left or how much Arreolaís conditioning has improved makes their fight pretty intriguing. If Chris does win as he is expected to then I think he starts preparing for Vitali. Now, if Arreola can knock out Jameel in impressive fashion that would be a huge statement. If Jameel is one thing he is durable. Heís certainly proved that so a knockout would be quite a feather in Arreolaís cap and immediately after Chris can start the calling out process on VK who Iím sure will be only too happy to accept. A fight with Arreola will really tell us where Vitali is career wise and whether the prognosis for his championship is long term or short term.

One thing is certain. If he doesnít get motivated by a fight with a young guy who has an excellent left hook and he comes in as disinterested against Arreola as he did against Gomez then prepare yourself because we might be seeing a changing of the guard.

(Please feel free to contact P.H. Burbridge via email at with any comments or feedback.)

Article posted on 23.03.2009

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