Wladimir Klitschko makes big statement in Germany

25.04.05 - By Scoop Malinowski / - What a performance. With one hand he was totally dominating a world class contender. Wladimir Klitschko proved beyond any shadow of a doubt he is most certainly back. And back in a very big way. Sometimes the champion has to overcome the most extreme adversity to reach the mountain top. Some champions have to hit the rockbottom lowest of lowpoints before they can discover who they really are.. No one could deny that Wladimir Klitschko's rockbottom was not one of the most difficult we've ever seen a heavyweight have to suffer and endure. Maybe only Andrew Golota had it any harder. "Nothing makes us great as does a great sorrow." -- Alfred De Musset

The moments just after the Brewster fight ended was one of the most horrifying sights ever seen in a boxing ring, outside of any fatality of course. It looked like it could have been the end of a career. Just about everyone wrote Klitschko off after that. And just about everybody expected Klitschko to give up on himself. But that's what separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. No matter how hard or how adverse it gets, the tough get up, stand up and carry on. They keep fighting on.

Remember how Goran Ivanisevic won 2001 Wimbledon at the age of 29? Everyone wrote off the eccentric Croatian veteran who was at the end of his somewhat unfulfilled career. Ivanisevic took advantage of a fortuitous wildcard granted from the All England Club (his ranking at the time was outside the top 120) and defeated Australian Patrick Rafter in a riveting five-set final. It was the first Grand Slam title for Goran.

Remember Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen? He was a favorite to win gold in three Winter Olympic Games. But Jansen was labeled a "choker" by the critics for having crashed and failed to win gold in almost three Games. Jansen had one last shot in 1994 in the 1,000 meters. It was his last chance in what were to be his final Olympics. If Jansen was indeed a choker like they said he was, it should have been the most likely time of all that he would choke, right? But Jansen shocked and thrilled everyone and finally won his first gold in his final Olympic event - in what was one of the most dramatic moments in Olympic history.

Remember the Red Sox last year? Down three games to zero to the Yankees. No pundit expected Boston to come back and win that American League championship series. But the Red Sox never stopped believing. Dan Jansen never quit on himself. Neither did Goran Ivanisevic or many others

And neither has Wladimir Klitschko.

The great Lennox Lewis maintains that the criticisms he got hit with by the American boxing media throughout the 1990's served as a motivator. Lewis said the U.S. media's cynical negativity towards him fueled his fire to prove them all wrong. Lewis also stated that losing those fights to Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman are what made him become the champion he became.

A similar pattern may be developing with Wladimir Klitschko. Maybe his journey had
been a bit too easy. Maybe the Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster experiences were his tests.

"I'm ready to fight every one. I just want to get back to where I was before and to get better," Klitschko said after halting Castillo in the 4th round. "As we say, or everybody say, Never give up before try. So I don't give up. It's (been said) that Wladimir may be broken man and that he maybe quit. But I'm not quit. And my song I'm gonna sing, and pretty long."

There was a certainty in his voice as he spoke.

"My dream to get back to be champion again - it was a little bumpy in the past. But I will give everything to be champion again. I'm ready (for anyone)."

Emanuel Steward was clearly impressed by Klitschko's performance. "I think you saw the new Wladimir Klitschko. I'd like to say something - we forget, Chris Byrd was supposed to be the original opponent, Chris Byrd withdrew from this fight - probably remembering how Wladimir had beaten him before. We're ready for anyone. This is a quality, elite fighter, with almost 50 fights, he's a heavyweight who won the gold medal in the Olympics. He just had a couple of bad bumps in the road right together. But he is definitely ready to fight the top heavyweights. I would have rather had Chris Byrd because the result would have been the exact same I feel, no matter what anyone else feels. The Wladimir Klitschko you saw tonight is going to be difficult for anyone to beat. He's a big man that's good, very patient and utilizes his assets very well."

The bottom line is Wladimir Klitschko stepped up and put on one of his finest performances. He made a very demonstrative statement to every fighter out there. From the first step out into the arena, to the final words he spoke after the fight with Larry Merchant, Klitschko was impressive. I liked the ring walk, he has a different focus now, a different countenance. There seems to be an intensity and passion burning inside Klitschko now. A look in his eyes, in his face that expresses, I am going to destroy you and anyone else who tries to hold me back. It seems Klitschko has already made the decision that he is going to be the heavyweight champion of the world. The decision has been made.

The post-fight celebration of jumping up on the corners to salute the crowd reminded me of Vitali doing the same thing after his WBC Eliminator KO victory over Larry Donald a few years ago. Vitali jumped up on the ropes to embrace his supporters, as if he was saying to them, I am here now, I am so close to the world title now and I will do it. I am going to do it.

Wladimir showed the same kind of passion. He is so close now. He has come almost all the way back from the abyss. And nothing, no man may be able to stop him now.

Notes: Several well-known boxing writers have been extremely negative towards Klitschko in their articles. Some of them I happen to respect very much. One from even cracked that Klitschko needed a neurological exam before he should fight again. That's how ridiculous and unfair the negativity has been against Klitschko. Others have questioned his capacity to take a punch. But I don't agree with that widespread notion. Sanders is a deadly puncher and Klitschko got up every time. And no writer gave any consideration to the Sanders headbutt that quickly followed the first left on the first knockdown. Remember the left hit Klitschko on the right side of his face and a cut opened over the left eye - obviously the result of a head clash that the HBO commentators or anybody else ever noticed. Also, Brewster landed some wicked shots on Klitschko which landed flush but did not put him down. It was the exhaustion which floored Klitschko, not those punches. Astoundingly, Klitschko took those shots without falling.

But I feel the tone of negativity will serve to empower and further galvanize the Ukrainian. And the American heavyweights that the American writers tend to favor and protect will have to deal with the consequences.

Question: If a fighter claims to be willing to fight anyone, anytime, anywhere but then runs away from fighting a certain fighter, is he a coward (one who lacks courage in the face of danger or pain)? Or is he a brave man who just happened to show tendencies of cowardice? Or is he a liar?

Article posted on 25.04.2005

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