A modern day great?

By Steve Bateson on September 30, 2013
A modern day great?
Klitschko is looking to cement his place in boxing's hall of fame

When listing the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time it is customary to list the usual suspects: Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano among others but when the dust settles in Moscow on Saturday night it might be time to include a new name in that list, perhaps it will be time to finally give Wladimir Klitschko the credit that he deserves.

Sure, he isn’t the most exciting heavyweight in history, neither is he the most talented, but what he is is one of the most dominant champions that the sport has ever seen and for that he can soundly expect recognition for what he has achieved. If the younger of the Klitschko brothers defeats Alexander Povetkin in their highly-anticipated showdown on Saturday it will be his nineteenth straight victory and and his seventeenth consecutive world championship defense, exemplary records by anyone’s standards.

Alexander Povetkin is no pushover (26-0 with 18 knockouts) but it is hard to envision the Olympic gold medalist overcoming his size and strength disadvantage to shock the world and dethrone Wladimir from his seemingly invincible kingdom. He has the skills, that is not in question, but after taking repeated jabs to the face from round one onward it will be interesting to see whether Povetkin possesses the heart to keep coming, many have tried before him and the majority have failed in pretty spectacular fashion.

Because despite Dr Steelhammer being classed a “robotic” there is no doubting the devastating one punch power that he has in either hand, 51 knockouts in 60 victories speak for themselves, I am sure Tony Thompson, Hasim Rahman and co will attest to that. After two defeats in a year (to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster) it was difficult to imagine that Klitschko was ever going to amount to a world-class fighter, but his meteoric rise is a testament to his own hard work and the sensational training of the late, great Manny Steward.

Wladimir is the current IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO champion of the world, one short of the full collection, and his reign of tyranny has spread over a remarkable nine year period, a record that can only be matched by the very pinnacle of the heavyweight hall of fame. One day he may very well meet his match, the division is currently housing some bright and rising talents, but at this very point in time I do not believe there is a heavyweight on the planet that can topple the Ukrainian giant.

Povetkin will look to hustle and harry, work on the inside and perhaps even target the body as he attempts to open up an opportunity to test his foe’s susceptible chin but anybody who has seen the Klitschko’s fight will know that the jab is their fundamental weapon and they use it with frightening effect, it is an almost impenetrable barrier. Wladimir will keep his opponent at range, pick him off with the jab as he comes forward and then find a home for his crushing straight right hand, a punch that has finished many a fight . Povetkin does possess the power to worry Wlad should he land but it is a big ask, even smaller, faster and harder-hitting opponents such as David Haye couldn’t muster a meaningful attack in twelve rounds so it doesn’t seem likely that we should expect a new champion in this one.

The likely pick is Klitschko to force a stoppage between rounds 6-8 after punishing Povetkin time and again with the jab, right hand combination. Povetkin will no doubt give a good account of himself and may even give Wladimir a scary moment or two, pressuring his opponent into a mistake, but after feeling the power that Klitschko possesses he may begin to think twice about engaging and resign himself to the inevitable.

It should be a good clash whilst it lasts, a better advert for heavyweight boxing than has been seen for some time, and may even make Wladimir consider his days in the sport, because are there really any more challenges out there for him to take?

Povetkin can come again, future fights with David Haye, Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Kubrat Pulev will provide some high quality entertainment and possibly even another world championship for the Russian, especially if both K bros bow out in the near future, but for now I feel he is going to have to settle for the runner’s up prize.

Nothing is standing in the way of Wladimir Klitschko and a hall of fame invitation.

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  1. Darrell 10:26pm, 10/04/2013

    I have Wlad in my top 10 ATG heavyweights for title defenses, length of reign, dominance, etc…..Vitali top 15-20.  As Eric says Wlad & Vitali, in the actual fighting side of things, would both be top 10, easy.  They would simply decimate many of the former heavyweight champs.

    The heavyweight division has looked reasonably improved over the last couple of years, guys like Pulev (whom I consider Wlad’s biggest threat), Haye, Stiverne & Povetkin are a pretty decent group of contenders just behind the top dog/s.  There’s a handful of other guys a step or two behind…Fury, Arreola, Jennings, Thompson.

    In reality there have been few times in history where the heavyweight division has been overflowing with big numbers of really good fighters, unlike many of the lower weight divisions.  Lots of promising careers have been stopped due to a variety of factors.  It’s damaging work as a heavyweight….

    Is it now time to count down to the naysayers chipping in their 2 cents worth?  I hear “ponderous”, “robotic”, “cautious”....

  2. Eric 07:38am, 10/01/2013

    Let’s not forget that Vitali was also leading the Lewis fight on all three judges cards before the fight being stopped due to cuts.  For those to say that either Klit couldn’t EVEN compete with the much smaller greats of yesteryear is absurd. Right now, I rank Louis and Ali ahead of the Klits and Lewis, mostly because of their superior skills, length at the top, and in Ali’s case, his imcomparable competition. But the Klits would run over Louis’s “Bum of the Month” club, and best probably all of Ali’s opponents. The only two Ali opponents who would have a “puncher’s chance” would be Liston(who Ali never beat in his prime) and Foreman(who Ali never gave a rematch to.) Personally, Louis is too small, his foot speed is slow, and his chin is too suspect, I don’t see Louis stopping the giants the way he did the inept Carnera or the marginally talented Buddy Baer or Abe Simon. Ali doesn’t have the punching power, and for one of the few times in his career he would be significantly outsized. Ali generally feasted on smaller fighters with the exception of Terrell, Norton, Foreman and a totally shot Cleveland Williams.

  3. Eric 06:44am, 10/01/2013

    Don’t forget Vitali too.  Wlad is a great fighter whose only weakness might be a suspect chin, Vitali’s whiskers are solid. Both brothers are top 10 all-time heavyweights IMO.

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