Boxing


Enough is enough.... Wladimir Klitschko is obviously the “true” heavyweight champ

klitschkoBy Jason Peck, photo courtesy of Klitschko.com -- click here for Klitschko-Thompson photo gallery -- What else do they need this guy to do? Walk on water?

His older brother Vitali had honors thrown at him for losing to Lennox Lewis. Anyone else’s status as undisputed champ would be beyond question if he accomplished what Wladimir Klitschko did on Saturday night. Stack Wlad’s last six opponents against any other pretender, and it doesn’t come close.

Am I a Ukrainian kiss-ass? A Klitschko diehard? A “nut-hugger”? Hardly. I’ve merely taken a rational look at a very simple issue..

All right. So you’ve got this weight division where one guy holds half the belts, and consistently dominates quality opponents – including one of the other belt-holders (that’s you, Sam Peter). Everyone else is either taking mediocre challengers, or barely fighting at all.

Doesn’t sound like brain surgery, does it? In fact, there’d be no disputes if this weren’t the heavyweight division. But the wide gulf between Wladimir Klitschko and the other heavies is beyond doubt, and painfully obvious.

It’s time to face facts. At the time I write this, Klitschko has done more than enough to prove himself as the mythic “true” champion we’ve been waiting for since Mike Tyson’s comeback ended up on the receiving end of Lennox Lewis’s jab. Wlad is better than the best of a bad lot.

Whatever “true” means. I’d like to point out that Larry Holmes was merely regarded as a substitute until the next Ali came along. He wasn’t loud and he wasn’t flashy. But he got the job done, and I defy anyone to say Holmes wasn’t Ali’s true successor. And few deny that Lennox Lewis was "true" either because of a very simple reason – he won big fights and stood above everyone else. That's what Wlad is doing.

All right then – who compares to Klitschko today? I hear this guy getting bad-mouthed up and down the boxing media, but no one’s ever given a good answer. One pundit even claimed that any fighter in any sanctioning body’s Top Five could beat him.

What nonsense. He’s already beaten a lot of those guys.

Sam Peter? Nope. “Peter-Mania” died when the Nigerian’s potential ran out, and few honestly believe Peter would win the rematch. Nicolai Valuev was never given a chance. Ruslan Chagaev has become a non-entity. Go past that, and you hear half-hearted whispers of David Haye and Chris Arreola. But they’ve yet to be convincing.

With every fight, Klitschko proves that he’s the best out there. He’s the only one ruining unbeaten records. He’s the only man scoring the KOs we expect. He’s the only guy taking on the fighters everyone else avoids. In fact, he's the only one I see surviving in the heavyweight division's last Golden Era, when prime Tyson, Holyfield and Bowe ruled the roost.

I don’t need Klitschko to collect more belts, and I don’t need the Ring Magazine’s blessings. I can’t believe people still spout nonsense about uncertainty and confusion.

His detractors don’t have to like the fact that he’s clearly in charge. That’s all right – this is a competitive sport, not a popularity contest. But time after time they’ve laid down challenges that Wlad had to meet before they’d take him seriously. And he met them.

They said he would never survive Sam Peter. Instead, he dominated the fight. They said he would never hold a title belt again. He won two (since I refuse to acknowledge the IBO). They said he wouldn’t mean squat until he avenged his loss to Lamon Brewster. Well, he did that too.

Alas, those three knockout losses smudge his resume. Never mind the fact that he’s improved his style and covered up his chin. Never mind that all three losses were huge upsets. Once a loser, always a loser. Right?

But why shouldn’t those losses mean more respect? Boxing history is full of Olympic medalists who lost their hearts after an embarrassing professional loss. But that happened to Wlad three times, and he climbed back from each. How many other fighters have that kind of heart?

It’s just baffling. It’s gotten to the point where we could be looking at an actual great, and the same complaints will never cease. I admit it – I mocked Wlad when he was out on his back, just like everyone else. But I can admit that he proved me wrong.

Will Wlad get knocked out again? Will his title reign last for years? Will he one day walk beside Ali, Marciano and Tyson in Valhalla?

What do you think I am, a goddamn fortune cookie? And when does someone have to be the best of all time before he amounts to anything? If you don’t like Klitschko, too bad. The Hall of Fame talk waits until years later.

After all, time will tell. So why should I?

Article posted on 15.07.2008



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