29.09.05 – By Craig Parrish: This past weekend, Wladimir Klitschko redeemed himself in the eyes of many boxing fans by out-boxing and out-lasting the feared Samuel Peter, despite 3 knockdowns. Of the three, many feel that only one was a legal hit, but Klitschko did get up off the canvas 3 times. By doing so, he showed an intestinal fortitude that is encouraging to his many fans as in the past when Klitschko got in trouble, it was over.. He has proven that, even though he does have a weak chin, he can rebound, fight, and stick to a game plan. A lot of this must be credited to Emmanuel Steward, whose calm presence in the corner seemed to give Klitschko new confidence. With this victory, Wladimir has put himself back in the thick of the Championship hunt, for what it’s worth. He is now the mandatory challenger for Chris Byrd and Lamon Brewster’s belts. I believe under Steward’s guidance, Wladimir wins both these match-ups, although they will need to be careful with Brewster’s power.
Wladimir’s older Brother, Vitali, is the WBC Heavyweight Champion. He has not defended the title since an 8th round TKO of the completely outclassed Danny Williams on December 11th, 2004. Since then a series of injuries (according to the Klitschko camp) has prevented him from defending the title against his mandatory challenger, Hasim Rahman. That fight has finally been set for November 12th. Although Rahman has won his last six fights, he has fought nobody of note lately, and has lost to John Ruiz. He was unimpressive in his last fight over Monte Barrett. Granted, Rahman did defeat Lennox Lewis, but it was alucky punch and Lewis came back to destroy him in the re-match. With his power, you always have to give Rahman a puncher’s chance against anybody. He can fight bigger men, as he proved when he bullrushed and knocked out Kali Meehan in 4 rounds. But Vitali Klitschko is not Kali Meehan. He is bigger, has better skills, a better chin, and hits harder. Barring another lucky punch from Rahman, I see Klitschko winning this fight decisively, with a 7th-8th round TKO.
That leaves one belt, the WBA strap, currently owned by John Ruiz. I believe either Klitschko would pummel Ruiz, so for the sake of equality, let’s give the WBA belt to Vitali. I understand that all of this speculation will probably never occur as long as Don King’s in the picture, but again this is a “what if” scenario, so let’s go with it.
So now the Klitschko’s own the Heavyweight Division. This may be a worse situation than we have now, as the Klitschko’s have stated many times that they will never fight each other. Now the possibility of unifying the belts for an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion will not happen as long as the Brothers will not fight each other. But what if they would? What would happen in a Wladimir/Vitali match-up? Physically, the Brothers are very similar. Vitali is 6’ 71/2” with an 80” reach and is 34 years old. Wladimir is 6’6” with an 81” reach and is 29 years old. Height advantage to Vitali, reach and age advantage to Wladimir. Wladimir is the more fluid of the two, lighter on his feet, and a better technician. Vitali is more lurching and stiff, not as graceful, but has better balance. Power is questionable, with perhaps a slight edge going to Wladimir, although Vitali can land extremely hard shots as well. Chin without a doubt goes to Vitali, who proved in his fight with Lennox Lewis that he can take hard shots, but he is prone to cuts. Both are well conditioned and can go the distance if necessary.
Throw out the fact that in the real world if these two were forced to fight they wouldn’t want to hurt each other and say that they really wanted to mix it up. I would see the early rounds going to Wladimir, who has the ability to make Vitali miss and counters with a few hard 1-2’s. Vitali lands a few shots here and there, gauging the distance. He plods around the ring after the more athletic Wlad. Moving into the 4th and 5th rounds, Wlad gets more confidence and starts to throw more combinations. Vitali’s face starts to swell and a small cut develops over his right eye towards the end of the 4th. As Wlad’s unloads more and more punches, he starts to tire and his hands slowly start to drop. He continues to work the cut over Vitali’s eye into the 6th, but Vitali is starting to land more and more shots. Wlad starts to worry as he is starting to get stung badly.
Before the 7th, the ring Doctor is brought in to look at the widening cut over Vitali’s eye, but lets the fight continue with a warning that if it worsens, the fight will be stopped. Vitali protests, and goes out to the center of the ring to start the 7th, where Wlad is already waiting. Wlad punches and clinches, punches and clinches, which frustrates Vitali as he cannot retaliate and the cut is worsening. As Wlad punches, Vitali waits for Wlad to come in for the clinch and tags him with a short left, which wobbles Wlad badly.
Smelling blood, Vitali pushes Wlad off and levels him with a brutal combination. Wlad goes down, but is up at the count of 8. Knowing that the cut is bad, Vitali is on him immediately, unloading more punches to the head. Wlad goes down again, and the Ref calls the fight. Vitali wins by TKO in the 7th. This is the way I see it, primarily based on Wlad’s recent performance against Peter. He had some trouble with Peter, who honestly, has very little boxing skill. Although Vitali hasn’t got the punch of Peter, I believe that Wlad’s chin would be the deciding factor and he would not be able to hold Vitali off forever, whose boxing skills are superior to the Nigerian. This fight will never happen, which is too bad. I think it would be an entertaining match-up, and until that next great Heavyweight comes out of hiding, about the best we’re going to get.