Will the Real Wladimir Klitschko Please Step Forward


01.05.05 – By J.B. Reatherjreather1@cox.net – Once considered the heir apparent to the heavyweight throne, Dr. Wladimir Klitschko seemed to have lost his way. Or at least that’s been the consensus among the vast majority of boxing writers, commentators and fans.. Their words of criticism dripping with disappointment, they were quick to close the books on the younger Klitschko’s once promising career and suggest he consider retirement. After all, he was blindsided by an out of shape golf pro with a left that could double as a sledgehammer. And exhausted, he lost to Lamon Brewster after beating him like a redheaded stepchild for four rounds. Thus they justified their criticisms and shifted their focus to less talented heavyweights. But did they rush to judgment?

Anyone who watched Wladimir Klitschko’s victory over Eliseo Castillo on April 23rd can answer that question. Klitschko was confident, relaxed and most importantly, patient. Primarily using his jab, he waited until the third round to unleash his devastating right, which ended the fight in the final seconds of the fourth.

Gone was the tense, anxious Wladimir Klitschko we saw against DaVarryl Williamson. Instead we were treated to a glimpse of the future, a more fluid and relaxed Wladimir Klitschko reminiscent of his pre-Sanders fights, but with one distinct difference – maturity. Let’s face it, inherent skill and natural ability don’t go away when you have a setback, only the fans and the respect of the boxing world do. Following the fight, there was one pervading thought in my mind, “He’s Back!” (However, I didn’t need a five minute laser light show to tell me that.)

So what’s next? Klitschko has made it clear he wants a shot at Chris Byrd and the IBF Heavyweight title – which is a smart move, provided he’s able to coax Byrd into the ring. While a step in the right direction, winning the IBF Heavyweight Championship will not establish him as a dominant force in the Heavyweight Division.

Enter Andrew Golota and new WBA Heavyweight Champion James Toney. Golota steps into the ring with Lamon Brewster on May 21st and will likely exit wearing the WBO Heavyweight Championship belt (provided these judges aren’t blind, bought or otherwise occupied with the ring girls – that’s if it goes the distance). Klitschko will need to take on one of these men. A defeat over either one could catapult him to the number two spot in the heavyweight division.

With a seven inch height advantage and five inch reach advantage, Klitschko would control Toney with his jab, making Toney’s head a prime target for his devastating right. Since Toney turns it up in the later rounds, he’d make use of every inch of the ring in the early rounds, forcing Klitschko to pursue him. This will only make the first four or five rounds excruciatingly slow and forestall the inevitable. Toney may possess a knockout punch, but the fact is, he can’t hit him if he can’t reach him.

Undoubtedly, a match-up with Golota would be far more difficult. Golota’s an old-school warrior who would take the fight to Klitschko from the first bell. Golota would want to make it a brawl, not a fight. Both men would be fighting to stay alive in the boxing world. This would be a true test of Klitschko’s skill, determination and above all, chin. But if he emerged the winner, he could reclaim his position as heir apparent to the heavyweight throne and once again bask in the glow of the fickle boxing establishment.