14.07.04 – By Don Deane: One early lesson in science teaches that two elements combined with an adhesive substance will yield one larger whole. So in tribute to boxing fan science teachers everywhere, this article takes the combination of scouring the heavyweight rankings, along with a request from an editor to come up with a piece on Vitali Klitschko, add adhesion, and voila!!….magic.
First up is the mandatory challenger Joe Mesi (all WBC legal issues set aside for the moment). Although Mesi gives up 6 inches in height he still only is 1 inch shy in reach. That seriously negates a size differential because Mesi will be able to land punches sooner on his way in. Mesi built a record early on beating up scrubs and then all of a sudden switched to fringe contenders. Mesi’s string of good wins (Jirov, Barrett, Williamson, Davis, Curry, Izon, Griffis) over the last 2 years have put him in a rare deserved mandatory position. With that said, he stands no chance. Klitschko is too big and too strong for Mesi who is just a big cruiserweight.
Vitali Klitschko has proven he can handle a smaller guy by running up 9 good rounds against Chris Byrd before he was forced to bow out with a shoulder ailment. Joe Mesi’s speed is inferior to Chris Byrd’s and he is much easier to hit. Klitschko will be able to use his natural straight up stance to prevent shots upstairs and combine it with a chin high hand position to enable his elbows to protect his whole mid section. PREDTICTION: Vitali Klitschko via 8th round KO.
Next up is a unification bout with WBA champ John Ruiz. They share a common opponent in Kirk Johnson (Julius Francis will be ignored due to the 4 year difference between bouts) who Klitschko handled much easier than “jab and grab” did, although Johnson came into the Klitschko fight 22 pounds heavier than when he fought John Ruiz. He was, of course, no small boy when he fought Ruiz. Ruiz would come into the fight with the game plan he always uses. But hey, it has earned him 40 wins and the WBA title twice. Ruiz is in the same size position as Mesi is, giving up 5 inches in height but only 2 inches of reach. Ruiz will find it to his advantage to slow it down, get inside and clench. The fight will be 12 rounds of Ruiz throwing one jab and hugging while Klitschko tries to time a volley of his own as Ruiz dives in. PREDICTION: Vitali via decision in one boring fight.
Talking about overweight Kirk Johnson brings to mind James Toney. He is a 3 division champ who would love to add a heavyweight title to cement his legacy. Toney is a touch under 6 feet and a little rotund but still sharp as a tack. No fighter in recent memory uses the left shoulder as well defensively as Toney does. Once again, the big Klitschko argument is how he handled the smallish Byrd. Klitschko should be able to use the 8 inch height, 4 inch reach and 30+ pound advantages to wear down the aging and well fed Toney over the course of the fight. Toney is too slick to get beat up and will make Klitschko throw punches. His ledger of 24 decision wins speaks for his ability to fight the championship rounds. He has also never been knocked out, not even by Roy Jones. PREDICTION: Vitali via decision.
Finally for Part 1 the newest revenge bout for the eldest Klitschko against newly crowned WBO champ Lamon Brewster. If this says anything, Brewster has 2 losses. One loss was to Charles Shufford and one to Clifford “down 7 times in one fight” Etienne. Brewster also has 30 wins against mostly nobodies (29 nobodies to be exact) and the younger, chinless, Klitschko. This fight would most likely go the way of the most recent revenge match against Corrie Sanders. Brewster just does not possess the skills to defeat the recognized top rated heavyweight. PREDICTION: Vitali via KO within 6 rounds.
Part 2 will examine possible bouts against the other remaining belt holder, an up and comer, a man of much amateur pedigree, and a fellow Eastern Europe giant.
(Author’s note: This article is dedicated to the memory of world class cut man Al Gavin)