Kubrat Pulev’s grievances with the way he is treated by Klitschko and company are piling up before their fight on Nov. 15 at the O2 Arena in Hamburg, Germany. Pulev had to wait for a long time for this opportunity and he saw the fight postponed once due to an injury Klitschko sustained. Ever since he brought the Olympic drug testing issue, the Bulgarian is treated as a ‘persona non grata” by K2 promotions. He had a hard time getting tickets for friends – he was treated as a regular customer and advised to order tickets on-line if he could find any.
Now Pulev is at a loss with the gloves for the fight. The gloves Klitschko favors were agreed upon and those are gloves manufactured specifically for Wladimir. “I can’t find the Klitschko gloves”, Pulev says, “those are the gloves Wladimir trains with, they are not available for sale on the market”. Klitschko apparently would not let him try his and “The Cobra” still has not tried on the gloves he is supposed to wear on fight night and he does not know how to wrap up his hands for these gloves. He compared the situation to “going into a Formula 1 race without knowing what kind of tires you will have on the car”.
Pulev decided to boycott the final press conference for the event when he was not allowed to bring his team; his camp’s representation was limited to three persons. Klitschko blamed Pulev’s team for the no show and urged Pulev “to do his independent thinking for himself”. “The Cobra” is still disgruntled with the way the drug testing is administered – he says the doping cops found him in a restaurant several days ago and took blood and urine samples on the spot. Klitschko is not bothered by such trifles, his contract stipulates he will only be tested after the fight. According to Pulev this gives Wlad complete freedom to use whatever he wants and cleanse his system for the test. Pulev claims Klitschko has “a monopoly” over the heavyweight titles and uses all means within his reach to keep them.
Even if “Dr. Steelhammer” is using a totalitarian approach and propaganda in his cold war against Pulev and his team, it all comes down to what they will do in the ring. This is a world championship fight and HBO belatedly picked it up to save it from looking like a European championship bout. It could even be regarded as an East-European title bout, it goes to show how much the boxing world has expanded.
Now to the bright side of the fight: Boxing is a skill/craft based sport and PEDs have a limited impact on performance. They can drastically increase endurance and strength but without skills it would be meaningless, even self-destructive. Regular/clean training can still prepare an athlete for twelve rounds of action and allow him to keep his mind on his game. There is no drug for punch power – no kind of training or doping can increase the striking force of a boxer. The power can even suffer from improper training or over-training. There is no recipe for timing except hard work and quality sparring and timing is hard to get and hard to keep.
Power is on Klitschko’s side, he is arguably the hardest punching boxer today and some say (the great late coach Emanuel Steward) in history. His technical ability is beyond discussion, his conditioning is uncompromising and it seems he is constantly improving as far as game planning/strategy is concerned. The champion is athletically superior as well and it looks like an easy night out for him. Having in mind the animosity and tension prior to the fight, Wlad may go for the finish earlier than expected.
The challenger has boxed and trained for this moment his entire career. This is the highest point and the highest payday for him so he will have nothing to lose on fight night. The gloves will most probably fit after all and he should feel free to demonstrate his attitude to his rival. Pulev obviously has no respect for Wlad and is constantly poking him for his big brother issues and lack of machismo. Pulev considers “Dr. Steelhammer” to be the opposite of a tough guy. “The Cobra” can not afford to stand up and box with Klitschko, some sort of bully surprises like in-fighting and systematic body attack might be in order if he wants to be competitive. It is up to Pulev to turn the cold war into a ring war, he could only benefit from a war if he can drag Wlad into it.
I have not seen any of the rivals throw a meaningful uppercut as professionals. Pulev should find the guts to try a full power right uppercut now and then even if he has to take a hammer jab for it. The uppercut requires less snap and is more of a thrust so it should suit Pulev’s posture and right hand specifics and should fill up the void in his power arsenal.