04.11.04 – By Scoop Malinowski: Finally got to review the tape of Wladimir Klitschko vs. DaVarryl Williamson and I was stunned to see Klitschko looked MUCH better than I had heard from fans and even respected boxing experts.
Klitschko looked very good, not great, not quite as excellent as he used to, but he looked very good and clearly – in my opinion – he is on the way back to where he was. I have no doubt. The reports I received soon after the Klitschko-Williamson fight were that Klitschko is another “Primo Carnera”, looked gunshy, more concerned about getting hurt then laying the hurt on somebody, etc. They insisted that he is finished, that he will never make it all the way back.
I couldn’t disagree more. Klitschko showed many crucial qualities against Williamson – passion, a burning intensity, determination, focus, athleticism and most important – a hunger to prove himself and redeem himself.
Let’s go through the fight:
Round 1: Klitschko looks relaxed and focused. In his own world. He looks good. Moving well, smooth. Williamson was very, very wary and cautious, more than he was agianst Mesi. Klitschko couldn’t catch him but he looked more relaxed and less tense than he did against Lamon Brewster. Maybe he was comfortable because Williamson never attacked, only countered.
Round 2: Very good round for Klitschko. He looks confident. There’s intensity fueling him. He’s boxing smart, dissecting Williamson. His athleticism is excellent. Klitschko looks much better than last fight. After round, DW’s corner scolds him pleadingly with a tone of desperation: “You’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”
Round 3: Another nice round by Klitschko. I don’t see the fear of being hurt from Klitschko like I was told. I just don’t see it. Cautious and smart – like Lennox Lewis, yes. But not fear.
Round 4: Quick reflexes after the knockdown. Williamson caught him with a good right when he was off balance. Nice recovery. Excellent focus. Klitschko overcame the knockdown and showed heart. Actually that knockdown could be a blessing. He got it out of the way, got it over with. For the first time in a long time, Klitschko overcame a knockdown and got right back on track.
Round 5: I like the _expression on Klitschko’s face. I see passion, hunger, focus, drive. This is not a hyped up fraudulent heavyweight like some claim Carnera was. This is one of the best heavyweight prospects we’ve seen in a long time. Who just happened to have some unexpected adversity in his career – those two bad fights. And two bad nights don’t erase all those other SUPERB performances. This is an Olympic champion, a WBO champion so intimidating that HBO, once upon a time, was having extreme problems even finding him a title challenger to go over to Germany. That’s how respected Klitschko was just a few years ago. The headbutt at the bell stopped an interesting fight. The crowd’s boos unfortunately sort of shamed what was a pretty good effort and may have left a bad feeling to those who watched.
But Klitschko showed some of the brilliance that DOMINATED Chris Byrd, Monte Barrett, Jameel McCline, Derrick Jefferson and Frans Botha. Sure, the boxing experts expected an obvious, statement-making performance by Klitschko. They didn’t quite get that and so they will still question this man’s heart and fortitude and his ability to take a good punch.
With the same confidence and conviction that compelled me to predict a Tarver KO of Jones and a Lewis domination of Tyson, I am just as confident that Wladimir Klitschko will reach the top. I saw the signs, the signals and the clues. But most important of all, I saw that Wladimir Klitschko still believes in himself. He may have been sloppy a few moments here and there in what was far from a perfect performance, but he has definitely not lost self-belief. After the fight Al Bernstein asked Klitschko about losing his confidence. “I think I never lost my confidence in the two losses,” revealed Klitschko. “I didn’t lose my confidence. I’m still confident.” Klitschko smiled as he said it, like he knew Bernstein and most the rest of the boxing world didn’t totally believe him. Maybe they didn’t believe him at all.
But it was the same kind of smile Felix Trinidad flashed us before the Mayorga fight, the same sort of grin that Antonio Tarver showed this May before he took care of business with Roy Jones. It was a smile of a pleasant, quiet confidence, not offensively arrogant in any way.
These fighters don’t really go by what the people think. They became boxers to become champions because of a superhuman quality in their hearts and souls. If they took to heart all the conventional advice and criticism they’d ever gotten in their lives, they’d have probably quit boxing a long time ago. Wladimir Klitschko is going to prove himself and redeem himself. He has greatness in him and I just know we are going to see it fulfill.