Brock-Klitschko: A Tall Order For Brock

11.11.06 - By Matt Stein: IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (46-3, 41 KO's), perhaps the best of the current crop of the four heavyweight title holders, will make his first defense of his newly won title against unbeaten Calvin Brock (29-0, 22 KO's) on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York city. Brock was the best available opponent for Klitschko, since the other top heavyweights were already scheduled for other fights. Previously, Wladimir was working on setting up a fight with Shannon Briggs. However, the Wladimir camp opted for the unbeaten Brock, whom they felt was the more deserving opponent, largely due to his more active ring career.

For Klitschko, the 6'6" 241 lb Ukrainian heavyweight, he'll have a considerable size advantage over the smaller, 6'2" 224 lb, Brock. Just based on the size alone, Brock will have his work cut out for him in trying to make contact with the towering Klitschko's often vulnerable chin, mostly since Wladimir prefers to fight on the outside, shooting long jabs and straight rights at his target. Brock's shorter arms and slower hand speed will be a handicap, and force him to hope that he can counter Wladimir after he misses a punch. Not entirely impossible, of course, based on Wladimir's 2nd round loss to Corrie Sanders in 2003. However, not always easy do now that Wladimir has a completely new style taught to him by Emanuel Steward, his trainer.

In other words, Brock has to hope that Wladimir gets sloppy, possibly leaving an opening for Brock to land his one weapon - a big left hook. Short of a miracle, though, it's not likely to succeed, for Wladimir won't risk throwing a right hand until he's already tenderized Brock's face with a steady diet of hard jabs thrown over the course of the first several rounds.

In his last fight in April 22, 2006, Wladimir stopped Chris Byrd in the 7th round, to win the IBF heavyweight title. Byrd was severely beaten by Wladimir, who gave the former champion a sustained beating throughout the bout. In fact, after the first round, the bout was so one-sided, it was as if Wladimir was giving a boxing clinic in the use of the jab, right hand combination.

Brock, 31, despite having an unbeaten record, along with Olympic credentials, he's still relatively untested by quality opposition. Other than fights against Jameel McCline, Clifford Etienne, and Timor Ibragimov, Brock has fought mostly 2nd and 3rd tier fighters. While Brock has found obvious success in winning the bouts, he hasn't looked over impressive in doing do, often fighting down to the level of his opponent. In the case of Klitschko, one hopes that Brock will step up his level of fighting ability and show something special on Saturday, otherwise Brock will be in for a short, bitter experience. Against McCline, though, Brock had a tough time, getting knocked down and nearly stopped in the early rounds.

However, McCline tired out and Brock was able to rally to win a close decision. In contrast, Wladimir had an easy time beating McCline, stopping him in the 10th round of a painfully one-sided fight. In his last fight in June 2006, Brock won a boring 12-round decision over Timor Ibragimov, where both fighters put on a horrible display of boxing and were loudly booed by the fans at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. In watching those fights, the one thing that comes to mind for me, however, is that Brock doesn't belong on the same stage as Wladimir, much less in the same ring.

Clearly, Brock is going to have to try to stick with what he does best, namely, throw a lot of jabs and left hooks. Unfortunately for him, he's not a pressure fighter, something that would have been helpful against Wladimir, who has problems with fighters that force him to back up. Hopefully, Brock can make adjustments in his style and try to carry the fight to Wladimir; Otherwise, Brock will get slowly beaten from long range by Wladimir's power house jabs. What remains unclear, however, is how well Brock can deal with Wladimir's far superior experience against higher level opposition. No doubt, Wladimir is going to be a vast jump up in competition for Brock. Whether Brock can deal that or not, remains to be seen.

For me, I see this as an easy fight for Wladimir. He’ll start off slow, throwing jabs, most of which will find their mark and have Brock’s head snapping back violently. By the 4th round, Brock will have been hit with so many jabs, he will have forgotten all about Wladimir’s huge right hand, which will catch Brock completely flat footed and unaware. Like Byrd before him, Brock will get tagged by a big hand by Wladimir, sending Brock down flat on his back laying on the canvas.

Prediction: Wladimir by 4th round KO.

Article posted on 11.11.2006

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