The Klitschko Universe

klitschkoBy Bill Patrice Jones - Anyone commenting on boxing or more specifically the fledging heavyweight division over the past few years will have inevitably grappled the fresh supremacy of the Klitschko brothers: Vitali the current WBC champion and his younger brother Wladimir the IBF and WBO champion. The brothers, referred to amicably by Larry Merchant as ‘the two headed Klitschko monster’ are by quite a distance the premium heavyweights of the era. Their success even more surprising when it appeared at one point as though both would fade into obscurity. This with Vitali’s disappointing relinquishing of the WBC and probably the last remnant of a world recognised championship in 2005 as opposed to facing mandatory challenger Hasim ‘The Rock’ Rahman a most recent victim of Wladimir. Vitali’s retirement had nothing to do with fear of his opponent but rather his unfortunate inability to make it safely through a training camp, perhaps sensing little to achieve in an era with a non too deep talent pool and with a freshly retired nemesis in Lennox Lewis he walked away. His little brother once a formidable contender and WBO champion had suffered his own string of disastrous knockout defeats to lesser opponents and seen his hopes of stardom dashed..

Since it had been the combined dream of the brothers to simultaneously hold versions of the world title we can presume Wladimir’s failings had as much to do with Vitali’s walking away as his injuries.

Yet Dr steel hammer (Wladimir) was far from done, after being flattened by Lamon Brewster (his third knockout defeat) and struggling to a controversial TD over Davarryl Williamson, he resumed his career by out pointing undefeated knockout artist Samuel Peter. Peter arguably the most feared puncher in the division certainly kept doubts over Wladimir’s heart fresh in the mind by dropping him three times and generally showing more fight. Since that win he has gone on to topple the undersized but brave Chris Byrd for the IBF title, get revenge on Lamon Brewster by dominating him en route to a RTD victory, win a shutout decision against Sultan Ibragimov in one of the worst heavyweight contests in history to claim the WBO strap and more recently make two dominant defences of those belts in Germany.

With his little brother becoming every ounce the methodical, tactical and seemingly flawless heavyweight Emanuel Steward wanted him to be, winning two titles and more respect than anyone would have thought possible watching him go down three times to less than stellar opposition. Vitali made his move. Having generously been granted champion emeritus status following his retirement he qualified immediately upon return for a shot at the WBC title now in the possession of Samuel ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Peter who had become champion proper after knocking out Oleg Maskaev who had knocked out Hasim Rahman.

The Klitschko Peter bout in Berlin is the most important within the string of successful Klitschko victories in question. Billed as a huge heavyweight clash it was almost surreal to watch. As has been watching the dominance of these two Ukrainian giants emerge, two figures almost mythical in appearance rising amid the debris of the American heavyweight scene. Peter once called by George Foreman ‘The most determined heavyweight in the division’ barely landed a significant punch, he had learnt not too train to strenuously or work with much vigour on his boxing skills, since he was capable of becoming one of the divisions champions without doing so. Vitali kept him at bay for 8 one sided rounds, sticking a hard jab into his face and generally pounding at will a confused overweight slugger. Vitali’s hands were fast, his punches accurate and the damage serious. After 8 rounds a bloodied and swollen Peter simply shook his head ‘stop it’. Befuddled, humiliated and distraught he could do no more.

Vitali’s brutal beat down of Peter was in the same vein as Wladimir’s beat down of contender Tony Thompson or vanquished champion Hasim Rahman it was a surreal experience. We are used to our heavyweights being colourful often brash and exciting, the crowds in Vegas or New York rampant. When one of the Klitschko’s dismantles the current challenger the German crowd is almost silent, respectful. The ring is neon blazed the challenger looks confused. He is lost in the Klitschko universe, from the corner you can hear every time the screams from his team ‘Move your head’, ‘don’t wait on this guy’ ‘take it to him’, ‘come on baby’. The corner men sound like caricatures of used fighters and their words of encouragement have yet to help. It takes usually 7 or 8 rounds and the job is done efficiently.

The conquered boxers comprise almost the representatives of the failed era in American heavyweight boxing. They are just not up to the task and find themselves face down in that strange neon ring regretting ever coming to Germany.

Its hard to say how good the Klitschko’s are. Certainly far better than the heavy detractors give them credit for, more than likely not as good as the most ardent supporters claim. One thing is for sure they are unique and probably one of a kind. Two multilingual giants supremely intelligent physical specimens who fight like machines and at time appear unbeatable.

As for the rest, Britain’s David Haye is in the words of Bert Sugar ‘The most exciting heavyweight in the world bar none’, represents the logical challenge a handsome charismatic exciting knockout artist making noise in a stale division. He is now just over a month away from his date with Wladimir and this author certainly feels that if Haye is dispatched with ease then it goes a very long way towards securing Wladimir‘s legacy. For although some will call Haye an undersized pretender, for me he is a fast strong athletic fighter at the top of his game and offering Wladimir a truly meaningful fight. If Hayes’s big shots are taken and the Brit is out boxed and out fought then it is an achievement which finally puts to bed the lingering questions over his heart and chin. As for America, right now they are lost in the Klitschko universe.

Article posted on 13.05.2009

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