Boxing

The Coronation of Wladimir Klitschko

Wladimir KlitschkoPhoto Pavel Eagle eye Terekhov - By P.H. Burbridge: In reviewing the current heavyweight landscape it’s not hard to understand why so many fight fans around the world feel that the Klitschko brothers pretty much have the division locked down. Even with two relatively exciting contenders looming large in the background, David Haye and Chris Arreola it still seems that all the smart money would go on either one of the Kilts in future match up’s against either. The overall sense from hardcore fight fans is that both guys are simply the best out there. End of story! In my opinion Wladimir Klitschko alone has emerged as the true heavyweight champion.

No other heavyweight fighting today has the athletic gifts of Wlad and the fact that a man his size fights with the fluidity of a light heavyweight puts him in a class all by himself. The only other big man and I’m talking about a fighter who’s over 6’ 5” that even comes close to Wlad in that regard is a prime Lennox Lewis. In studying his style and career I reviewed 55 of his fights including his Olympic gold medal performance. It was near impossible not to marvel at his transformation from a young Olympic champion to the #1 heavyweight in the world.

Watching that progression left me with a new respect for what he’s accomplished but more importantly a better understanding of just how dedicated of an athlete he is. One of the ways that we use to find out what a fighter is made of is to observe his actions after he suffers a defeat.

Does he have the same fire and determination as before or has it been replaced by gloom and disinterest? Is he willing to pay the price to correct his deficiencies and does he have the metal intangibles to compete at the highest level of the sport? Those are the questions.

There is perhaps no better conditioned fighter in the game than Wladimir Klitschko. WK consistently comes into his fights in the kind of world class condition you would expect and want from your heavyweight champion of the world. His technique has gotten sharper over the years and his dedication continues to rise higher and higher.

At 33 years of age he is just now entering his prime and that can only be perceived as real BAD news for the rest of the field.

When considering Wladimir Klitschko the answer to those questions is simple. He’s come back BETTER than before!

He has fought 55 times as a professional winning 52 of those fights against only 3 losses. He has knocked out 46 men. I don’t think even the most jaded boxing observer could say that Wladimir has not put in the work and become better after those 3 losses. He’s made the adjustments and he’s continued on winning. Still there are those who question his credentials. Those who claim he and his brother Vitali are reaping the benefits of a weak field and are simply using their size to out man smaller less dedicated foes.

Is the field weak? Not any weaker than when Larry Holmes was champion. Not any weaker than when Mike Tyson was champion. Not any weaker than when Evander Holyfield was champion. Not any weaker than when Lennox Lewis was….. Well, you get the picture. In my opinion, the Kilt brothers are really the victims of an American mainstream boxing bias that has always existed when it comes to the heavyweight championship of the world. You see we’re used to being heavyweight champion. We’re used to being the dominant force in the division.

We’ve been it for over 100 years and until Lennox Lewis raised the Union Jack we came to take it for granted. Once Lennox had it we wanted it back. Bad! Lennox wasn’t perfect and he let us borrow it from time to time but he always came to collect it back when he needed it. Well, Lennox is British and we could deal with him being champion. After all the Brit’s have been our allies for the longest time.

We start fights around the world and the Brit’s help us finish them and vice a versa so we could accept Lennox. We eventually saw him as a great champion who took on the best the field had to offer in his time. But, Lennox to a lesser degree was also a victim of our bias in the beginning. Certainly not to the extent that the Klitschko’s are today but some of the talk back then was very similar to what you’re hearing now.

“Lennox is too robotic! Lennox fights in that ugly European style! Lennox doesn’t fight with wild abandon that a big man should! We want knockouts, not decisions! Lennox plays chess! LENNOX IS BORING!! ” Anytime a heavyweight champion out thinks his opponent in a clinical manner we get bored. We clearly prefer the opposite. That’s why we made Mike Tyson one of the most famous fighters ever.

We want blood just not our own.

I don’t see Wladimir as a fighting in what is traditionally called the “European” style. I see him as more of a modern fighter who has developed his style based on the cumulative knowledge and tactics of all the heavyweights who came before him. American and European. Now, maybe you can label Vitali with that tag because his style more closely fits that description but you certainly cannot diminish his success because of it.

The Klitschko brothers are from the Ukraine. Most Americans just call them “Russian” with a hint of old world sentiment rooted in the cold war. Maybe you can call it an underlining reservation in acknowledging our one time enemy as superior in some way. I’m positive if Wlad was American that his narrative would be quite different. It would then become a story of “overcoming adversity." You’ve heard it before. He would be Captain America if he was born in Kansas. Some of the writers here in the U.S. are far too dismissive of Wladimir based largely on those 3 losses.

No acknowledgment that 3 times he has attempted to rebuild his career and 3 TIMES he’s successfully done it. The man just didn’t come back from bad decisions. He was knocked out! And he was man enough to say “NO, I’m NOT done! I have a goal and I’m going to accomplish to it.” For all the doubters in the press and the pundits alike you must credit Wladimir’s resolve in that regard. Truthfully, isn’t that what we want as fight fans?

Isn’t that a trait of a champion? Allot of the dismissive nonsense from the American boxing media is puzzling to me because boxing is the first sport to break the color barrier and the ethnicity barrier. It’s a WORLD sport. The concept is supposed to be simple. We don’t care what you look like or where you come from or what God you pray to or if you even pray to one at all. Just beat the guy who has the belt around his waist and then we’ll start calling you “champ”. Well, Wladimir without question has done that. AND, he’s been doing it for a long time.

He’s not perfect but he’s a HELL of a lot closer than 99% of the other fighters hoping to accomplish just a fraction of what he already has.

But, let me simplify it even more and this is coming from an American writer.

Today, if a Martian space ship landed on the planet Earth delivering their heavyweight champion and issuing a challenge to one of our heavyweight’s under the threat of our annihilation and the U.N. had to figure out which fighter gave us the best chance for survival only one cell phone would ring.

And it would be in Wladimir Klitschko’s pocket!

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

Article posted on 26.03.2009



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