Klitschko-Ibragimov: Sultan has a Chance

By Scott Kurtz: Wladimir Klitschko is scheduled to face Sultan Ibragimov for a heavyweight unification match February 23rd in Madison Square Garden. Given Klitschkoís dominant performances the last four fights, few people give Ibragimov much of a chance. Under Manny Steward, Klitschko has mastered the art of keeping fighters at a distance with his jab and setting them up for the big right hand. Klitschko has imposing size and skill on the outside that forces fighters to move inside to avoid being pummeled..

Once inside, none of his recent opponents have been very effective. They simply allow Wlad to tie them up and lean on them with his 250lb frame. After a few rounds of being plastered from the outside and leaned on in the inside, his opponents are gassed battered and ready to go. Klitschko then takes them out.

Klitscko has mastered this style under Manny Steward and itís served him well. Most of Wladís recent opponents are people that come strait ahead and stand in front of him or worse they allow Wlad to stalk them like Ray Austin. Given Wladís style, thatís the worse thing you can do. Under the guidance of Steward, Klitschko has picked opponents that are tailor made to his style of fighting.

Sultan Ibragimov is a different fighter. Sultan is an awkward moving left handed fighter with great hand speed and power. Since being trained by Jeff Mayweather, he has adopted a very smart effective style of fighting. I know itís not the most exciting style to watch but itís very effective for Ibragimov. I know everyone is going to say he couldnít knock out a shot Evander Holyfield but he did plenty to win an easy decision. Evander still has a very good chin and is not easy to knock out.

Wladimir Klitschko is clearly the favorite in the fight. Ibragimov is giving up 5 inches in height & 30lbs. The size difference from the press conference photos is pretty amazing. I think Klitschko is clearly the favorite because of his size and skill from the outside. I do think Ibragimov has a very good chance of pulling off an upset. I think Sultanís movement and hand speed will give Wlad some problems. Sultan has the power to hurt Klitschko and we donít know how heíll react when hurt by a skilled fighter that can finish. I know Sam Peter hurt Wlad but Sam did not have the speed or skill to finish him. I think a skilled boxer like Ibragimov would have finished him off. Klitschko has not been hit flush in several fights so we havenít seen any evidence that his chin problems are over.

I look forward to this fight and I think Sultan will make a good showing. I donít know that he will win the fight but I think heíll make it much harder for Wlad Klitschko then his recent opponents.

Article posted on 26.12.2007

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