Vitali Klitschko, No Lion But Still Deadly

vitali klitschkoPhoto credit: Pavel Terekhov - By Matt McGrain: The Komodo Dragon kills itís prey with venom. Despite the other hardware it has at its disposal, when it has delivered a single bite it withdraws and observes as the prey endures a slow death. When the animal becomes weak, the Dragon begins to harrow it, bringing it down and finally finishing it, sometimes eating it alive.

So it is with Vitali Klitschko.

Tonight, in Gelsenkirchen, Klitschko, 38 (moving to 40-2) stopped a totally out-classed foe in ten one sided rounds, none of which the giant Ukrainian lost. Enjoying a massive advantage in height and reach, Albert Sosnowski (now 45-3-1) was made for the WBC champion who took full advantage in a risk-free performance.

Like his brother, Vitali is a master-general, and like all master-generals his control of range is flawless. Sosnowskiís plan was to make Vitali work at a pace whilst trying to land jabs, double-jabs and his best punch of the night, an over-hand right, but it meant the 31 year old Polish national, now living in the UK, was constantly moving forwards into Vitaliís kill zone. Klitschko hardly showed a variety of punches tonight, but his pecking, stabbing jab and a frequently tossed right hand were more than enough to get the job done, both deployed generously and accurately each time the challenger moved into range. Mixing this up with short arm work when the smaller man got briefly inside, Vitali dominated at all ranges. Worse, in the second, fourth and eight round Sosnowski was able to land his overhand right, lurching inside and rattling the blow up and over Vitaliís shoulder guard. There was no discernable affect upon Vitali, who shrugged the blows off, retaliating or moving off to re-organise. Conversely, a cuffing punch from Vitali was enough to send Albert stumbling across the ring, although it had not landed flush - by the end of this round the physical differences between the two men were more firmly established, and the result seemed just a matter of time. Klitschko was almost mid-way through a masterful performance.

Of course, Vitali was expected to triumph, with huge odds available for the backing of Sosnowski - the Daily Telegraph described him as ďa modern day Buster DouglasĒ although there was to be no stunning upset here. When the smaller man waded forwards in round seven, trying to bull Vitali with sheer aggression, he was made to miss almost every single punch. This was a bright spot in a fight that, since the end of four, had given the huge crowd little to shout about. Vitali, I think, has a showman inside of him, betrayed by his grandiose ring entrances (another great one here tonight) and moments of the theatrical, as in round nine where he showed his right hand to the bleachers before driving it forwards into a hurt Sosnowski. The punch that had hurt the Pole was once again less than flush but the challenger was absolutely exhausted. His foe had been sickened by a slow kind of poison and now Vitali was ready to tear him down. The end, when it came, was merciful, the referee waving the fight off after Sosnoswskiís first visit to the canvas. I thought it was good refereeing. Although Sosnowski likely could have got up, he had shown nothing for two rounds and was taking bad punishment. Certainly the brave fighter did not object. Iíd go so far as to say that Sosnowski did himself no harm, in as much as that can ever be true in a one-sided thrashing. He was game, kept trying and I thought his brave salute to the crowd at the end of round 9 was genuinely touching. This might be a brutal version of the learning fight every boxer needs, and perhaps, now, he can move on to better things.

As for Vitali, the frustrated showman, what of him? Heís been in another one-sided stinker, and if the comparison with the komodo dragon is a fair one, the top heavyweights that have gone before him, men like Tyson and Dempsey and Louis and even Lewis are more lions than dragons, and would have put Sosnowski away in much sharper time in much more dramatic fashion. And style isnít the champions only problem. He shares the division with another great heavyweight but one he cannot fight - not because of the injustice of the colour bar as in the distant past, or even due to boxingís disturbed version of politics as has been the case since time immemorial, but because the fighter in question is his brother. A win for one over the other would seal a great legacy, but is possible for neither man due to their being family. Nobody can criticise them for that, but it must irk that the only man capable of bring the very best out of the other is a man he canít fight.

Valuev, I think it is clear now, will not fight Vitali and Chagaev has already been dispatched by his brother - another albatross around Vitaliís neck is the fact that he has to share the rights to despatch the divisionís top challengers with Wlad - Adamek and Boytsov are both valid choices, but neither appears to be ready quite yet. This leaves Vitali with Povetkin, who has generally been touted as a future opponent for Wladimir, or the less-than-shy David Haye. Haye is Vitaliís preferred choice, and to me this fight seems natural now. Haye has excellent speed, and although his feet and chin are likely to conspire to prevent him pulling off the upset, he does seem the type to naturally expose an older fighter coming to the end of his career, being fast, powerful and fresh. At the very least the fight would generate more excitement than tonightís. Whether the two can be put together or not, given their conflicting promotional teams in continental Europe remains to be seen, but for Vitali himself, as for the wider public, patience with such totally out-classed opponents may fast be running out.

Article posted on 30.05.2010

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