Boxing


Wladimir Klitschko: The Return of the King

06.07.07 - By Zhenyu Li: The last time we saw the Ukrainian giant at the summit of the sweet science is about more than four years ago when the WBO heavyweight king with a splendid record of 38-1, 36 KOs stopped Jameel "The Big Time" McCline by a 10th round TKO in Mandalay Bay.

Then, the crown of the king was dethroned by a foreign intruder named Corrie Sanders who brutally floored the king three times in just two rounds and smashed his dignity of being a king. The off-balanced champion stumbled forward with his hands held high but with little sense of equilibrium as he tottered across the ring before collapsing face first to the canvas for the final time. The referee waved off the bout that folded a chapter of supremacy.

On the night of April 10th, 2004, after scoring two more comeback victories, the former world champion had a chance to redeem himself. Not only to resurrect, but also a great opportunity to climb back to the top and regain his crown. His foe was a 6'1" straight-headed 8-to-1 underdog who gave up five-inches in height. It sounds like a perfect opponent for redemption.

As expected, the fight went on well in favor of Klitschko in the early rounds. The former king looked as imposing as he had in his old kingdom. The underdog was kept at bay by the stinging jabs thrown from the Ukrainian giant, absorbing ridiculous punishment that included a third round tumble to the deck. In the fourth, Klitschko scored with a chopping right hand behind the ear and dropped Brewster to the floor. It seemed that it’s just a matter of time before Klitschko knocked Brewster cold to the canvas.

But something weird happened.

After scoring that knockdown, Klitschko suddenly looked exhausted, breathing heavily with his mouth wide open. In the fifth, he had no punches. He could barely clinch his opponent gulping for air. A series of right and left hooks from Brewster prompted a standing eight count against Klitschko. When the one-sided action resumed Klitschko was a spent shell. He fell onto the floor after a struggle with Brewster on the ropes at the bell. It wasn't so much a clean punch as it was utterly mysterious fatigue.

The former king took one more staggering step to his corner when the referee waved off the fight at the bell.

There was much speculation about Klitschko’s abrupt fatigue. Many called it a stamina problem of Klitschko that cost him the fight, while others thought it was not that simple. Veteran referee Robert Byrd explained afterwards that he’d never seen a knockout victim display such bizarre symptoms. Legitimate or bizarre, it still remains to this day a mystery…

Three years had passed, with the tutorship of legendary trainer Emanuel Steward along with resolve and discipline, Klitschko had improved dramatically in terms of his balance, left jab, stamina and most importantly, confidence.

He bagged the IBF belt by scoring a one-sided 7th round TKO over the longest reigning heavyweight champion Chris Byrd in April 2006, scored a 7th round TKO over the then undefeated American budding star Calvin Brock seven months later and then, in his last fight, halted the outgunned Ray Austin in just two rounds, dispatching all three tough oppositions in such a devastating fashion.

On July 7, Klitschko will face his old foe Brewster for their second encounter. The king has returned, and is set to take the revenge!

Zhenyu Li is the senior writer for People’s Daily online and a member of IBRO. He can be reached at zhenyuli_cn@sina.com.

Article posted on 07.07.2007



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