Vitali Klitschko vs. the World

13.12.04 - By Geoff McKay: Well, as expected, Vitali Klitschko handled Danny Williams, and retained his WBC belt, and as expected, many of the very same people that gave Danny a real chance of beating Vitali are now calling him a Tomato can, and claiming Vitaliís performance is no measure of a real champion.

One thing that we can all agree on is the need for a unification, or clarification as to who the real heavyweight champion is. Another thing that we can also probably agree on is that this will likely never happen. Too many rich and powerful people have too much to lose should one man alone be allowed to call himself heavyweight champion of the world.

That being said, I think itís time to have a little fun. Generally the recognized heavyweight champion is Klitschko, so in the next few paragraphs I am going to match him hypothetically against the major challengers that are out there, and as an added treat, we will top it off with a hypothetical rematch with Lennox Lewis. Now I understand that this will include a wild amount of speculation, but I have based the outcomes on studies of all fighters involved, their past records, performances, fighting styles and personalities. Besides, talk and predictions are most likely as close as we are going to come to actually seeing some of these fights.

I welcome, and request criticism, disagreement, and discussion. That is on of the things that makes the sport of boxing so great.

Vitali Klitschko vs. Lamon Brewster

For a preview of this fight see Klitschko vs. Williams, cut it in half, and you have your result. Lamon would start out aggressively, and get tagged with a big jab or two for his trouble. He would then look too work the body, but would find it impossible to get within range. His final strategy would resemble his fight with Wladimir, absorbing punishment in the hopes of tiring his opponent to the point of collapsing. Unfortunately for Lamon, however, he would be bounced of the canvas three or four times before this happened, and the ref would mercifully stop the contest in round four.

Vitali Klitschko vs. John Ruiz
Despite blowing his own horn in his open letter to Vitali, Ruiz and his clutch and grab style would not reach the end of a fight with Klitschko. Few people realize just how strong Vitali is. Everyone that fights him comments on his strength, and if you have your doubts just watch the first round of his fight with Williams. That was a 270 pound man he pitched to ground with one hand. Ruiz would try to get in close and hold, but he would pay heavily every time, and he would find Vitaliís strength tough to handle. He would be successful in stifling the Ukrainian to a degree; however, he would soak up to much punishment to make it effective. Klitschko does not have the massive one punch knockout power some heavyweights possess; however, his power is brutally consistent. A fight with him is something like being sealed into a steel drum and rolled down a steep, bumpy hill. Eventually his opponent is too injured to continue. Ruiz would end the fight on his feet, but he would not go the distance, the ref would step in and stop the fight in round 10.

Vitali Klitschko vs. Hasim Rahman

Rahman is a very talented boxer, and has the tools too surprise Klitschko. However, I think he would have to get very lucky and fight a perfect fight to do this. Rahman would go into a fight with Klitschko with the idea of breaking Vitali down with body shots. He would be caught off guard, however, by the length of Vitaliís jab, and the distance from which he can land effective power shots. Rahman would have his moments, and sting Vitali once or twice, but not enough to give him the momentum he needs. Frustrated, he would settle back and become lazy as he did with John Ruiz. Sometime in the 8th, Klitschko would blind Rahman with a jab, and then land a vicious right hand from long range. Rahman would crash to the canvas on his back, and stay there long after the ten count.

Vitali Klitschko vs. Chris Byrd

I donít think Byrd receives enough credit for his win against Klitschko. I once heard George Foreman say he had seen quite a few fighters feel that they had pulled their shoulder, when the actual cause was consistent body work by their opponent. It is interesting to note that after his fight with Byrd, Evander Holyfield also said he had severe shoulder pain. It is quite possible that Byrd, and not a freak pull, caused the shoulder to act up.

That being said, however, I donít think Byrd would stand a chance of repeating this performance. The Klitschko of today is a far different one than the one Byrd met in Germany. He moves better, he is confident and has actually begun to toy with his opponents, (did you see the way he dropped his hands and baited Williams, a la Roy Jones).

Chris is a fantastic boxer, but he just doesnít have the tools to beat Klitschko, he is too small, and lacks the power to get his opponents respect. He would pity pat his way to winning a round or two. Klitschko does not have the Ike Ibeaubuchi thunder behind every punch style that it seems to take to stop Byrd, and Byrd would reach the end of the fight, but he would kiss the canvas a couple of times to get there. In the end, Klitschko would win a lopsided unanimous decision.

Vitali Klitschko vs. Lewis II

It is important that we as boxing fans move forward, and accept the fact that this fight will most likely never happen. Lewis does not want a rematch. Not because he is bored, or has achieved it all as he continually says, but because deep down inside himself, he is not sure that he can beat Klitschko. You can hear it in the way he subtly puts Klitschko down when he is interviewed, in the way he always slips in a comment about how he was breaking Vitali down, and how he was turning the fight around. Granted, he must find it annoying that the only thing most people really want to hear him speak about is Vitally Klitschko, but these continual self reassurances are a dead giveaway.

If you have a tape of that fight, watch how Lennox acts after the fight is over. Take a close look at the expression on his face, it that the look of the man who has just achieved the final crowning glory of a great career? I believe Lewis had his chance to beat Klitschko, and achieve the recognition that has perpetually evaded him, by granting an immediate rematch, however, that chance has passed. Lewis is motivated to see Klitschko beaten; he has even resorted to training Klitschkoís opponents. Had he used this motivation to train himself, he would have beaten Vitali in the rematch, but Klitschko is growing by leaps and bounds now, and in his last two fights he has begun to show that intangible element that makes a fighter great. It is something in the way he walks into the ring, his confidence, and the way he imposes himself on the other fighter. Instead of calling his style awkward, it may be more appropriate to call it different. Whatever you call it, it is effective and he has grown beyond the reach of the aged Lennox Lewis.

Despite appearances, Klitschko is very good at slipping short punches inside, and then countering with his own shots. Watch Klitschko Lewis again and youíll see plenty of examples of this. Where he is vulnerable is when he is actually chest to chest with his opponent, (like when Lewis landed that huge uppercut), and he doesnít clinch well. He knows this and would avoid those situations in a rematch.

Vitali is devastating from long range. He landed that shot to finish Williams from the other side of the ring. He would use that to his advantage against Lennox, and begin his pattern of slowly busting up his opponent. Lewis is a great boxer however, and he would find ways to connect. He would hurt Vitally, maybe even stagger him, but as in the first fight, he would take the worst of most exchanges.

Lewis has a questionable chin, and this would be his undoing against Klitschko. At some point late in the fight, Klitschko would wobble Lewis badly like he did in their first fight. This time, however, he would have the confidence to jump on Lewis when he was hurt. Lewis, grinning on the way down, wouldnít rise from the first knockdown, and lose by Knockout in the 9th.

Let the debate begin.

Article posted on 12.12.2004

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