05.11.03 - By Vaughn Featherstone: Not since Max Schmeling has the East had a Internationally recognized heavyweight champion. Many have come through and have perhaps made an impression but none have managed to gain the recognition nor respect from the Boxing World. Fighters like Axel Shultz and Andrew Golota made big impacts in the division but faded rapidly after knocking on the door. In Wladimir and Vitaly Klitchko the Heavyweight division looked like there would be two fighters who would basically become the cream of the crop. Also, while this situation seems to be stalled, the WBO seems like it is becoming a sort of "bad luck" charm. As I go through this article, I will explain further.....
Wladimir "Steelhammer" Klitschko (41-2 (38)) looked primed for greatness with lopsided wins over Chris Byrd (W12), Francois Botha (TKO8), and Ray Mercer (TKO6) and Jameel McCline (TKO10). With a fight with Lennox Lewis over the horizon, on March 8th, 2003, Wlad took on lightly regarded South African Corrie Sanders (38-2). This fight was considered a mismatch by many but turned out to be a major setback in the career Wlad. No doubt over-confident and looking past Sanders, Sanders dropped Wlad four times en route to winning the WBO Heavyweight title, thus losing his opportunity to fight Lewis and many Boxing experts labeling him as "over-rated." Wlad has since return to the ring with a one round knockout over Fabio Eduardo Moli (29-2-0) in Munchen, Germany. At this present time, a bout with Lennox Lewis hasn't been talked about as Lewis uses the court system and the old saying, "He hasn't earned himself a shot at me," saying to avoid such a matchup.
Vitaly "Ironfist" Klitschko (32-2 (31KO)) managed to resurrect his career following a disappointing TKO defeat at the hands of Chris Byrd. In that fight, Vitaly was ahead comfortably on the cards but was forced to retire because of an injury. Many claimed he quit on his stool and argued that he could have ran the rest of the fight, thus attaining the name of "Quit-schko." With his career in limbo, Vitaly came back with five sensational victories (4 by knockout). Everything was starting to fall into place as the Boxing public began to respect Vitaly for the fighter that everyone praised prior to the Chris Byrd debacle. When Kirk Johnson was forced out of his title fight with Lennox Lewis (injury), Vitaly got the call. Although the fight between he (Vitaly) and Lewis was a title fight, Lewis and many "experts" expected it to be more like a tune up and expected Lewis to walk through Vitaly. The "experts" and Lewis were very much surprised as Vitaly put on perhaps the greatest performance of his career in making Lewis look like an old champion who was past his prime. A nasty cut in round six ended any chance of Vitaly becoming the WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World. (Klitschko was leading 58-56 on all three cards at the time of stoppage) Although many felt the fight was perhaps stopped prematurely and the decision should have gone to Klitschko because of the cut, Lewis refused to give Vitaly a rematch. A rematch has been talked about but nothing has been finalized. It is my belief that Lewis will avoid one and that may be the best decision of his career.
Former WBO Light-Heavyweight champion Dariusz "The Tiger" Michaelczewski (48-1) (Gdansk, Poland) made a habit of beating up on former opponents of Roy Jones jr. With victories over Montell Griffith (KO4), Derrick Harmon (KO9), and Virgil Hill (W12), Michaelczewski looked like the one fighter who could possibly defeat Jones. For three years, both fighters (Jones and Michaelczewski) baited each other into mega-fights but neither would budge from their stances. Michaelczewski wasn't leaving Germany while Jones wasn't going to Germany. Jonesí reason for not traveling overseas is that he wouldn't win a legitimate decision. The demands from Michaelczewski to come to the United States were to unreasonable in Jones' eyes. Michaelczewski continued to fight on in beating on ex-Jones opponents while raising his winning mark to 48-0. During that period (of the Jones-Michaelczewski saga), Undisputed Middleweight Champion Bernard Hopkins stated that he would fight Michaelchewski and would fly to Germany to have such a fight. However, this seemed more talk than anything from Hopkins. But on October 18th, everything started to unravel for Dariusz Michaelczewski. On a night that was supposed to be his crowning moment, Michaelchewski fought the one Roy Jones opponent that would change his career forever: Julio Gonzales. With the great Rocky Marciano's record of 49-0 in his sights, Gonzales (34-1)outclassed Michaelchewski, thus possibly wiping out any matchup he would have wanted with Jones. Gonzales not only defeated Michaelczewski, he defeated him in his native Germany with such ease: Something that many felt couldn't (and wouldn't) happen. The fight wasn't even close as the German crowd could sense that their undefeated champion would be no more. With Undisputed Pound For Pound king Roy Jones set to battle Light-Heavyweight Champion Antonio Tarver on Nov 8th, where does Michaelczewski fit in?
Perhaps Joe Calzaghe will take a look at these situations involving Wlad Klitschko and Dariusz Michaelczewski. You may ask,Why should Calzaghe take notice?" True, as a Champion you should always be sharp and prepared for any opponent because every opponent you fight is gunning for your title and they will be in the best shape possible: physically and mentally. What makes this situation perhaps critical is that these fighters (with the exception of Vitaly Klitschko) were former champions of the much maligned World Boxing Organization (WBO). For them to fall with such ease is a shock to many fans as well as the Boxing world as well.
Boxing tip of the week:Body punching can be a very lethal skill to have in your arsenal. It can wear down a taller opponent over the stretch of a fight and perhaps set up other punch combinations. A very effective punch is the hook to the kidneys. This punch can paralyze an opponent long enough to land a short uppercut if in close quarters to the chin.
Comments? Opinions? Vaughn Featherstone
Article posted on 05.11.2003