What this win means for Wladimir Klitschko
23.04.05 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: After watching this fight with a bunch of casual boxing fans tonight, I gained a bit of perspective on Wladimir Klitschko. When he was knocking the crap out of Ray Mercer, Derrick Jefferson, and Chris Byrd, he was an exciting crowd pleasing fighter that everyone rooted for, ala the praise received by Mike Tyson in his prime.. He was the heir apparent to the Heavyweight title, and everyone was giving him a good chance against Lennox Lewis. After the KO losses to Sanders and Brewster, it is safe to say that the exciting crowd pleasing Wladimir Klitschko is a thing of the past.
Article posted on 23.04.2005
The reason I am saying this is that as I watched Wladimir outbox and beat the Cuban Castillo, I heard all sorts of things coming from the crowd I was with, such as “this is boring,” and “this isn’t boxing.” It sort of reminded me of Lennox Lewis versus David Tua, in that if you were looking for a KO this wasn’t your fight. Now before anybody gets riled up, obviously Castillo is not in David Tua’s league in terms of anything, which is why there was a KO, but the moments leading up to it were only pleasing to people who can appreciate technical boxing, and not exciting knockouts.
Objectively speaking this was a solid performance, from all possible angles. It was pretty much a more polished version of Klitschko Williamson until the KO, only this time Klitschko did not get anxious, and was content to outbox the fleeing Castillo with 1 hand. Throughout the four rounds, there was not one single punch landed by the smaller Cuban, and those that came close, were visibly deflected, by Wlad’s right glove which he used very effectively in defending his chin. Furthermore, he was very patient and did not exhibit any rush in getting the job done. Had the final punch not landed it doesn’t seem feasible that Castillo would have done much more then he did in the first three rounds anyway. Even though I was skeptical about Manny Steward’s partnership with the younger Klitschko, in the Brewster and Williamson fights, the improvements were truly visible in his game during this fight and seem to be putting Wlad on the right track.
The stoppage was a bit of an issue, and I have to agree it seemed early to me. Castillo was on his feet before 10 but in the referee’s defense, he was not flat on his feet, but instead trying to cover it up, by trying to bounce across the ring. It could have been allowed to go on, but you really have to ask yourself whether anything could change in Castillo’s favor. Castillo had lost the first 4 rounds at that point, and nothing suggested he would mount a comeback, because Klitschko wasn’t even close to exerting himself, as Castillo’s team had hoped. Some might say “well Klitschko has had an issue of collapsing after leading the fight in the past,” to which I say that the referee is there to be subjective in terms of what type of opponent he stops the fight against and which he lets it go on. I would have personally preferred the fight to go on, because I would have liked to test whether or not Klitschko could continue the fight in this manner, but what’s done is done.
Now comes the issue of whether or not this win has any merit for the younger Klitschko. Personally I have not seen one single heavyweight come remotely close to earning a title shot in the past couple of months. I mean I can agree that guys like Barrett and Rahman are up there, and even Toney, but at the same time if these guys are given a chance why not Klitschko?
When Barrett beat Owen Beck in a title eliminator, the consensus opinion was Barrett earned his shot. Yet nobody took the time to look at Beck’s record and see that he had not fought a single live fighter before losing to Barrett. Yet he was an undefeated prospect and Barrett gets huge credit for that win, including becoming the #1 contender. Castillo was also an undefeated prospect, and not only that but he at least beat Micheal Moorer, as opposed to Troy Weida or whoever it is people consider to be Beck’s biggest win until loosing to Barrett. James Toney beat Rydell Booker, another overmatched, undefeated, “prospect” who had not fought anybody, to get his shot at the title. While Hasim Rahman beet Kali Meehan who on paper was a legit contender but who I personally feel would lose to Beck, Castillo and probably Rydell Booker. Yet all 3 of these guys are getting shots or are awaiting shots at the title, while boxing fans scream that Castillo is an insult as an opponent to Wladimir Klitschko. Barring Rahman’s impressive win against the weakest of the so called “prospect-contenders,” Wlad’s win against Castillo was the most impressive of the bunch compared to Barrett and Toney. The win was against a similar caliber of opponent, also and in fact perhaps slightly better then Beck and Booker, because he did beat Moorer, while Booker and Beck beat no one.
So why is it so unbelievable that Wladimir should get a shot at Byrd for example? Like I said before in a perfect world this fight, and all the other ones that Toney Rahman, and Barrett had, would not even be considered as stepping stones for a title shot, but in this landscape, I say why not?
Bottom Line this was a good win against a decent opponent (at least by today’s heavyweight standards), and should be considered as such. Nevermind that this is Wladimir Klitschko. Had Rahman, or Monte Barrett, beaten Castillo, is there even any doubt that Don King would have them lined up for 2,3 title shots at least? Had Wladimir beaten Beck or Booker, or perhaps Evander Holyfield, would we still give him the same credit given to Booker and Toney. What if he would have knocked out Kali Meehan, would he then be considered the legit #1 contender? Is it really the high expectation we have of the younger Klitschko that makes us scoff at this fight? It’s a good win, and he should be given credit for it, like the rest of today’s so-called top 10.
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