Boxing


Vitali Klitschko - Will Anyone Else Take Him The Distance, Much Less Defeat Him?

by James Slater - It could be argued that Vitali Klitschko, the 38-year-old WBC heavyweight king, is one of the strongest, or perhaps THE physically strongest, heavyweight champions in the history of the sport. Not only is the rock solid 6'7.5," approx 250-pound big man a fighter who has immense physical strength, "Dr Iron Fist" also possesses unshakable mental strength. Add to this his amazing KO percentage (all but one of his wins coming inside the limit) and it's easy to see why there aren't that many fans giving any fighter much of a chance against him..

Next up for the 38-2(37) giant is unbeaten Kevin Johnson of Atlanta. Few give the man known as "KingPin" much of a chance in the December 12th fight that will take place in Switzerland, and we know why. Going by the dominance he has shown since returning to the ring and to the throne in October of last year, after a layoff of almost four years, Vitali appears pretty much invincible.

Barely losing a round in his three comeback fights - against good fighters, Sam Peter Juan Carlos Gomez and Chris Arreola - Klitschko's dominance begs the question: will any fighter ever take him the distance again, much less defeat him? It's good for the division when there is an all-conquering man holding the title (even though younger brother Wladimir is seen as the best heavyweight by some people), and it gives all the top contenders a clear target and focus to have - namely one of upsetting the odds by beating a fighters who is seen as indestructible.

It's got to the stage now, where if a fighter were to manage to topple Vitali, a genuine upset will have been seen; one that would bring many headlines and much praise and notoriety for the fighter who somehow managed it. Is it going too far to suggest that a challenger would get much praise if he were even able to last all 12-rounds with the Ukrainian?

As in the original Rocky movie, where Balboa wants to make a name for himself by becoming the first man to take Apollo Creed the distance (he knows in his heart he cannot beat him), a real life fighter of today would possibly be entitled to take great pride should he find himself seeing the final bell against Vitali (does anyone really believe they can beat him?). The distinction of being the first man to take Klitschko the 12-round distance belongs to the huge Timo Hoffman, who went 12 with Vitali back in 2000, but no fighter has yet taken the WBC champion the distance in a world title fight.

As talented as he is, this is perhaps the only realistic target for 30-year-old Johnson to aim for. Arreola almost made it all 12 back in September, but he took a ton of punishment in the fight, before being retired by his corner at the end of the 10th. But because of the way he made Klitschko work, Arreola was given much praise. Imagine, then, how many plaudits a fighter would be given if he actually managed to beat Vitali!

This man will not be Kevin Johnson, and I don't think "KingPin" will see the final bell either. The WBC crown is in safe hands right now, as appears to be the distinction only one fighter in the world holds. That Timo Hoffman, he must be some tough dude!

Article posted on 29.10.2009



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