By Glynn Evans: Weights: VITALI 112,5 kg / Manuel Charr 109,5 kg – One of the most dominant reigns in the rich history of the world heavyweight championship might be entering its final scene at the Olimpiyskiy, Moscow on Saturday evening when future Hall of Famer Vitali Klitschko defends his World Boxing Council (WBC) crown against Lebanon’s Manuel Charr. (And BoxNation subscribers can catch the action live and exclusive on Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch. 546)
Now 41, the 6ft 7in Kyrgyzstan born, Ukraine raised legend has hinted at an imminent career in politics and, one senses, only a financial blockbuster with protagonist David Haye, could persuade him to prolong his departure from the sport.
They say that there are few ‘certainties’ in heavyweight boxing but this is about as close as you get. Expect a triumphant parade rather than a competitive punch-up as the 14-1 on champion grants us one more chance to savour the qualities that have rendered him unbeatable for the past nine years.
‘Dr Ironfist’ hasn’t always have been the most adventurous holder of the ‘Greatest Prize in Sports’, but he is unquestionably one of the very best. In a career spanning 16 years and 46 fights, he has conceded just twice, both times due to injury whilst leading on the cards.
In April 2000, he surrendered his WBO title to Chris Byrd, retiring on his stool after nine rounds due to a shoulder injury. Three years after, he was pulled out by the doctor after six sporting an horrific gash, having given WBC czar Lennox Lewis an almighty fright at the Staples Center, Los Angeles.
Perhaps a less gifted technician than brother Wladimir who holds the WBO, WBA and IBF belts, Vitali is the hardier, meaner, more vicious sibling. The iron fists that have caused all but four of his 44 victims to cave in ahead of schedule are supplemented by an iron jaw. He is yet to be dropped.
A former two-time undefeated European champion and once a WBO title holder (making two successful defences of both belts), Klitschko the Elder has now prevailed in 11 consecutive WBC championships – interrupted by an enforced injury retirement between 2004-8. Eight challengers have been clubbed into early submission while the rest collectively managed to take barely a handful of rounds from him.
And while several cited signs of recession as the Ukrainian bashed some manners into Dereck Chisora in his most recent outing last February, Klitschko was clearly compromised by the shoulder injury he sustained in round three. He remains a brute of a man, one of the hardest ever to lace the gloves.
It is unlikely that his legacy will be damaged by young upstart Charr who is rated seventh by the WBC. Fourteen years Klitschko’s junior, the Beirut born challenger moved to Katernberg, Germany, aged six, after losing his father in the Lebanese Civil War. His induction to combat sports came through Thai boxing and he won European and World honours prior to transferring to conventional pugilism in May 2005. Schooled by a former Soviet national coach at a warehouse in Cologne, ‘Diamond Boy’ presently has no promotional deal. Save for an early career gig in Austria, his career has been conducted exclusively in Germany.
Thus far, he has peeled off 21 successive wins without bagging any established titles or meritable scalps. Solid trialhorse types Adnan Serin and Sherman Williams extended him six and ten rounds respectively. One-time WBA title challenger Owen Beck lasted into round ten and last year Charr struggled to subdue a decidedly shop worn Danny Williams, prior to being granted a premature stoppage in round seven. Hardly the form to strike the fear of God into Komrade Klitschko!
A tank like 6ft 3in tall, and weighing around 245lb (17st 7lbs), the challenger arrives with a reputation for being tough and rugged with 11 stoppage wins. He shall be forced to make huge concessions with regard to height, reach, experience, technique and power. Odds of 20-1 for a spot of giantkilling appear somewhat miserly!
Old ‘Ironfist’ has been a great, great champion so let’s sit back and marvel at him for possibly the final time, as he utilises that ramrod jab to systematically hammer the ambition out of an outgunned, physically inferior foe, before dropping the guillotine in the middle third of the fight.