RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports


By Donald C. Stewart

They were virtually unknown. Sure we were aware that they held the belts but our interest in the weight division, that during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s had given us such wonderful contests, had waned to the point we were apathetic about it.

They had cleaned up. More or less all that we heard about was that these guys were unassailable but not in a good way. People had entered their ring and left empty handed. In Germany and Eastern Europe they were lauded as Champions, proof that the new countries like their native Ukraine could escape the clutches of Communism and still compete at the highest level. After all, their prize, the ones they held was once the biggest one in World Sport.

Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko were the World Heavyweight Champions.

Their supporters didn’t have to engage with boxing fans because they never had before. There had been little or no real tradition of champions from the East and anyone wanting to know about boxing champions from the West could find out about them without much effort. They all knew who Tyson was or Holyfield or any other giant that graced the World stage. Except it wasn’t really a world stage.

You see we believe that World really means World but there are pockets of the world where what we watch is unknown. World champions are exactly that – people in their field that are better than anyone else who try to beat them. When the pool of people around is so small then the title can be diminished. They are champions of the bums.

The titles in terms of world history will still spell the same things as the greats before them and the champions that come after them but they will never be the same as the ones we believed in when the field was full of dangerous opponents.

The change in how we view the Klitschkos in the UK has come because of their behaviour before, during and after the David Haye fight. They were modest, intelligent and most of all Wladimir was victorious. They won a lot of people over by their respect for the sport of boxing.

Unfortunately they haven’t won any more fans because of their fighting style. When David Haye called it robotic he was fairly accurate. Their style has inevitability about it and it doesn’t make for good fights or decent spectacle. The fact that they can travel into the lions den of their opponents and fear no one is either an indication of their fearless power or just the lack of decent opponents.
Vitali showed against Adamek in Adamek’s native Poland that he can dominate, he can pick off his opponents and if this is the best that the rest of the world has to offer then there is n doubt both brothers will reign supreme for a long while yet.

The ridiculous decision to bring in supreme/diamond or whatever types of champions is nonsense and just adds to the whole ridiculous nature of how we view them. It makes a mockery of the world titles and it makes everyone wonder why the sport is embarrassed by their champions. And let’s face it the sport is embarrassed.

We do not want to be seen sending inferior champions out when there are Olympic greats and real world champions in other sports out there who would put ours to shame. This, however, is not the fault of the Klitschkos. They have arrived at a time when other contenders are not around. Those that are around are easily dealt with. Haye and Adamek gave us nothing and I mean nothing to shout about. They turned up, demonstrated heart, and gave their convictions an airing at press conferences and back they scuttled. Adamek perhaps retreats with more dignity than Haye but failed just like he did.

Now I have never laced up a glove. I have never entered a boxing ring to fight. The idea of getting in the same ring with either one of them is frightening. You cannot underestimate how daunting that prospect is. Both Adamek and Haye deserve credit for getting into the ring with either of them. As all boxers who fight do but they failed. What Haye did drew complaint and ridicule but it did both Klitschkos a favor. For once they were the center of everybody’s attention. People wanted to know more about them and they even were quoted in the USA.

Their response was effective. The demurred, they spoke intelligently, they looked less the demon and more like the champions they are. People warmed to them because they had squashed the daft fly that was David Haye. They had given people interviews full of charm and modesty. They won the British public over. There were quite a few fight fans in the UK who tuned in to hope that Adamek was beaten by Vitali.

The future remains uncertain though. Haye has announced he will delay his retirement for a rematch with Wladimir. That would be an excellent prospect and this time round Haye might well be advised to keep his mouth in check and train like a demon if it comes off. He cannot hope for half the purse but if he wants the whole legacy he will need to turn up with the goods.

The legacy of the Klitschkos is not great but at least now they have a platform on which to build for their future.

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