RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports

The End of Wladimir & Vitali Klitschko: The Heavyweights that May Reshape the Division

By Mike “Rubber Warrior” Plunkett

Last year just after he had defeated Ruslan Chagaev I wrote an article that essentially took the high road view on Wladimir Klitschko and his station today as IBF/WBO Heavyweight Champion. I referred to him as the heavyweight division’s “trash man”, in that I felt he was doing all of the really important work, answering the questions relative to the best of what today’s heavyweight ranks had to offer outside of his brother Vitali, the current WBC titlist. Think about it; Wladimir rightfully established himself for his present run some five years ago when he defeated Samuel Peter, then an undefeated thumper with a semblance of mystique. After that he took the IBF title by trouncing the always complicated Chris Byrd, a fighter that I believe to this very day his brother wanted no part of in a return. From there, he’s defended his title no less than eight times, along the way stopping a former conqueror and picking up the WBO title in a unification event that although devoid of high drama, is a key selling point relative to the context of today’s heavyweight landscape.

Further to that, three of the men he has defended against were undefeated at the time when they challenged him and in the case of the aforementioned Chagaev, that bout should rightfully have been another unification showdown, save for the fact that boxing politics eliminated any chance of the WBA title being a part of the stakes for that contest. When you dust it all off Wladimir Klitschko hasn’t ducked anybody and he’s done everything he can as heavyweight champion to honor the role outside of facing his brother, a unique and unprecedented situation with considerations that go well beyond the prize ring.

In his last appearance Wladimir disappointed those with a thirst for combat by riding the brakes for ten mundane rounds before switching gears and going for the kill against the slippery and underrated Eddie Chambers. There were moments of hope for Chambers early but by the seventh it was clear to me that the challenger had run out of ideas on getting past Klitschko’s left jab and measured defense and had accepted a grim fate. There can be no doubt that Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward has done a wondrous makeover on Klitschko, obviously keen to the chinks in Wlad’s flawed former game of seek and destroy aggression and the sudden panicked mindset that seemed to come about during moments of duress.

The net result is a practiced, albeit dry routine of defensive boxing that utilizes the distinct physical advantages of his 6’6 charge to the point that fans are often ready to nod off just as his opponent is ready to crumble. Sometimes being too good and too practiced works against you, and in the case of the defense-oriented younger Klitschko, who often enjoys a significant advantage in sheer size and athleticism over his nerve racked challengers, the formulation is less than appealing, particularly to North American to fans hoping for sparks.

I’ve taken the liberty to review four current fighters that are of particular interest and pedigree, the next wave of hopefuls if you will, that could be signed to oppose the dominant IBF/WBO kingpin sometime in the near future. Each is at a distinct size disadvantage and in two cases, has limited experience relative to the champion. Of particular note, two of these four fighters are former cruiserweight champions; ironic in that for years the much maligned cruiserweight division was looked upon as a graveyard of sorts where fat light heavyweights and listless, smallish heavyweights toiled in the shadows.

David Haye

The current WBA heavyweight champion has spent the better part of two years talking up credentials that didn’t really exist beyond 200lbs. After having called out Wladimir Klitschko for the better part of six months starting towards the end of 2008, Haye, 23-1, 21 KO’s signed to challenge Wlad only to back out under a myriad dubious details and excuses. Not that it was all bad; his pull-out precipitated Wlad’s useful defense against Ruslan Chagaev, ridding us of further postponements from the former WBA titlist and demonstrating who between the two the better champion was. After that, Haye challenged and subsequently backed out on Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title. In the end Haye moved toward and ultimately defeated the oafish and in-decline Nikolay Valuev for the WBA trinket in a bout painfully devoid of style and electricity, where the supposed one-punch power of “The Hayemaker” made next to know appearance. Compounding the complications associated with his claim to having become the supposed new heavyweight champion of the world, Haye admitted before the bout that Valuev was the least threatening of the heavyweight titlists, fueling speculation he had backed away from Wlad and his brother on false pretenses.

Tomasz Adamek

Say what you will about his liabilities demonstrated at light heavyweight and cruiserweight, divisions where he won the WBC and IBF world titles, with a record of 40-1, 27 KO’s “Goral” is a balls to the wall tiger when it comes to laying it all out. He can systematically box an opponent to a standstill or he can chisel away at a foe until a bull’s eye presents itself as a target for his thudding right hand. His recent climb up to heavyweight surprised me, and subsequent wins over a finished but far larger Andrew Golota and contender Jason Estrada have demonstrated with decidedly modest results his effectiveness at or just around 215lbs. Against Wladimir he’ll be at a marked disadvantage; outgunned and out-sized in just about every aspect of such a match-up, except where it counts most – killer instinct and heart.

Alexander Povetkin

I like Alexander Povetkin, 19-0, 14 KO’s. He has great amateur pedigree and the spirit of a true, measured competitor. The guy seems to have a whiff of what success, relative to the greater picture, really means. Having backed out of his challenge of Klitschko on pretenses that are arguably up for debate, he’s regrouped and refined both his team and his game for the sake of future success. In what must be considered a great bargain, he’s hired Teddy Atlas to train him. No doubt it’s a two-for-one deal that includes the latter’s fully charged cell phone and a sack full of Wagnerian diatribes that would make a post-Beaches Bette Midler blush.
A late-2009 tune-up on one Leo Nolan saw the new team in action. His most recent appearance saw him play the role of “blacksmith” to a blubbery Javier Mora’s interpretation of “anvil”. Credit Povetkin’s antics; he may not be a one-punch thrasher but damned if we’ll sit through virtually twelve rounds of “touch me not” should he decide to roll the dice in a similar fashion with Wladimir Klitschko anytime soon. But in case he does get that fight and suddenly has a change of heart – trust that Ready Teddy will be ready to assume his corner stool, cell phone in hand, tongue wagging like a prairie dog in heat.

Odlanier Solis

At 16-0, 12 KO’s Odlanier Solis isn’t so easily dismissed when taking a broad view of today’s heavyweight division. The land of the giants is a far more international blend than it was twenty or even ten years ago. Last October Solis flattened the completely shot Monte Barrett with apparent ease – and he did it without getting floored in the process, something the all too celebrated David Haye failed to pull off. Most recently he convinced Carl Davis Drumond to remain on his stool, and the last time I looked Drumond wasn’t one for the piano.

Yes, Solis borders upon being “rotund”, having paired down from a career high 271 last October to a relatively hopeful 268 in his last showing, but I think expecting him to cut poundage would be a waste of energy for all concerned. He will likely need to be convinced….but does such a need really exist? Or is this refrigerator-sized Cuban a talent already built to spec and ready for a forward march into that territory known as “Klitschko”? I like this guy’s jab and his hammer. Further, he has some patience and the suggestion of a few gears. 16-0 isn’t what I would consider extensive experience, but given what I’ve seen from Solis thus far I’ll take what I can get.

Advertise Now On RSR

Purchase Boxing Interviews Of A Lifetime

Watch The Trailer For Family Secret

Leave a Reply