By Tom Donelson
( Member of Boxing Writers Association and International Boxing Research Organization )
It was suppose to be the big heavyweight fight of the past decade and the big test for Wladimir Klitschko over the past seven years. Instead, the fight ended with a whimper with little action and only in the first minute of the last round did one see any excitement or doubts about who will win. For the most part, it was classic Klitschko; reduce his opponent to survival mode.
The opening round set the pace for most of the fight as David Haye looked to maneuver for a big blow while Wladimir Klitschko used his jab to control the real estate. Haye biggest problem was his inability to penetrate Klitschko’s defenses and his failure to use his own quick hands to jab his way inside; instead he leaped in with punches.
On occasions, he landed his overhand right enough times to produce a welt under Vladimir Klitschko’s left eye but he threw half as many punches and connected on half as many punches. During the second half of the fight, Haye became less active and while Klitschko lost a point for pushing Haye down, Haye flopped in order to get another point deduction. The referee even counted Haye for an eight count after Haye flopped in the eleventh round. The referee got tired of Haye’s tactic and figure that one way to get his attention was to deduct a point and let the record show he was knocked down.
There was only three rounds in the fight had any serious competition, the third round in which Haye showed some rhythm and connected on some solid rights and the fourth round in which Haye actually connected on more punches for the only round in the fight.
At the beginning of the twelfth round, Haye shot a solid right that forced Klitschko to hold and then Klitschko threw some combinations of his own as he forced Haye to retreat. In a round that showed the potential of the fight could have been; instead it prove to be the exception to the rule. A fight that saw the loquacious Haye be reduced to fighting survival and had one round that he connected on one punch. The fight that was suppose to be dynamite turned into a whimper; leaving fans wondering who can actually challenge the Klitschko’s brothers.
My thoughts on Klitschko brothers:
Wladimir Klischko is 17-2 in championship fights and in a fight that was supposed something special, he turned David Haye into yet another victim. For many boxing fans, the Haye-Klitschko bout had a buzz not seen since Vitali Klitschko fought Lennox Lewis and the year before that, Lewis defeating Mike Tyson.
Wladimir Klitschko has three problems in trying to access his greatness. The first problem is that he never faced the other great fighter of his era, his brother Vitali. Both brothers decided early on that they would never fight each other and quite frankly, this would have been the best fight of the decade but it is a fight that will never happen. Between the two, they own all the various championship belts worth having.
Between the two fighters, they have combined for 98 victories and 88 knock outs plus they have won 26 championships fight and only lost 3. No two fighters have been as dominant over the past decade and they are the Heavyweight division.
The second problem is that the Klischko’s brothers followed one of boxing golden era’s for heavyweight division in both skills and popularity. Klitschko’s never caught the public imagination as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield or Lennox Lewis dix and the 90’s was one of boxing strongest period in heavyweight history. While some old timers and boxing historians would dispute this but the 90’s featured great hall of fame fighters including not only Holyfield, Tyson and Lewis but George Foreman who came back to win a title against the then undefeated Mike Moorer and even Larry Holmes still was a top ten heavyweight. It could be argued that today’s crop of heavyweights have been weak, certainly when compared to the 90’s.
Which bring us to the third problem, the heavyweights power has switched to Europe. Look at the top fighters in heavyweight and they are reside in Europe and one reason for the weakness in the heavyweight division is the weakness among American Heavyweights. There is no doubt that this has been the weakest group of American heavyweights in decades, if not ever.
Many of the European big men have extensive Amateur experiences and develop boxing skills that their American counterparts for the most part don’t have. Klitschko have combined boxing skills and size in a package. While HBO Jim Lampley have quipped that it is too unfair for they are simply too big and too good, Lampley misses the reason for their success. They are simply too skilled and they are the hardest working heavyweights and Lampley once observed is that to beat the Klitschko’s brothers, you have to turn the sport into a 24/7 and 365 day job. There are plenty of big fighters in this era but none of them work harder or as skills as the Klitschkos.
How can you rate the Klitschko’s? Vitali have the reputation of being the tougher of the two, this being the result of his fight with Lennox Lewis but what has hurt Vitali’s career legacy was his four year layoff due to injuries before he came back to being an elite heavyweights. As for Wladimir, his story begins when he hooked up with Emanuel Stewart, who showed Wladimir how to use his height. Stewart turned Lennox Lewis into the boxing best of the 90’s when he taught Lewis to use his natural size to its utmost advantage and he did the same for Klitschko. Wladimir went from being a European style fighter to a more complete fighter with a variety of punches including combining the left hook with his one-two left right combination.
Vitali has always been effective in using his height not just for offense but also add to his defensive skills. What both Klitschkos have done is what great fighters are supposed to do, beat those fighters in front of them. Over the past six plus years, they have won those fights easily, rarely been tested. They have dominated the heavyweight division. The Klitschko’s brothers have combined the cerebral with their skills. Their record speaks for itself and yes, maybe they have fought in a weaker division but they also dominated that era and there is nothing over the horizon to challenge them. This is the Klitschko’s era.