Klitschko vs Nicholson Preview
16.12.03 - Paul Ruby: Stage Two of Wladimir Klitschko’s rebuilding process is scheduled to take place when he fights American Danell Nicholson in Kiel, Germany this Saturday evening. I’m not going to sit here and predict a Nicholson victory or even say it will be a terribly competitive fight, but I am also not going to fault Wladimir and his management team for choosing him as an opponent. They showed in March that incomplete fighters need to choose opponents carefully and prepare thoroughly or they run the risk of watching a promising career get quickly derailed.
Article posted on 16.12.2003
In some ways, Danell Nicholson is the polar opposite of Corrie Sanders. Corrie Sanders has always been a supremely talented fighter, but he was often criticized for lacking the desire to be great. He fought and usually beat fighters he was expected to beat, but TKO 2 loss to Nate Tubbs certainly does not look good on his ledger. He performed well against Rahman until he ran out of gas in the second half of the fight and, not surprisingly, he left the ring a loser that night in Atlantic City.
I believe that Klitschko’s management team believed the same would happen when he fought Wladimir last March. Unfortunately, Corrie viewed the match as more than a payday and brought the fight to Wlad. Perhaps he knew he’d get knocked out if the fight went late and derived his aggression from that, but we will never know for sure. All we know is that a properly-trained Corrie Sanders is dangerous. He has power in both hands, composure in the ring, and a troubling southpaw stance that is not often seen in the heavyweight division. Clearly, Wladimir was expecting the moderately trained Corrie Sanders and, to the surprise of most fans and critics, that Corrie Sanders did not show up. As a fan, I hope Corrie capitalizes on the momentum he created, but I admit his time is running out.
Sanders’ talent made him an unknown commodity when he stepped through the ropes last March. That is not the case with Nicholson. He’s a fairly predictable fighter. He’s lost to Tua, Kirk Johnson, and Andrew Golota. He beat John Ruiz by a split decision and got the better of journeymen like Terrence Lewis, Frankie Swindell, and Jesse Ferguson. With the exception of Ruiz, he’s beaten who he was expected to beat and lost when he was expected to lose. In other words, the guy is game and shows up to fight. He consistently puts himself in the best position he can to win. The other side of that coin, however, is that no one will confuse him with being the most talented heavyweight on the planet. In his defense, he went 6 with Tua, 8 with Golota, and pushed Bubba to a decision. He’s fought sparingly in the last few years, and I look for that to be a significant problem against Wladimir. In addition, his weight has gotten a little too high for my taste of late. Early in his career, he fought in the low- to mid-220’s. He has shown up at 235 or higher for his last three fights. Ordinarily weight gain among heavyweights is not viewed with the same disdain it is in the lower weight classes, but I have a strong feeling it will be Nicholson’s achilles heel on Saturday. Nicholson likes to move more than most heavyweights and he makes for above-average fights. Nonetheless, I think if he shows up heavy for this match, he will neutralize his ability to move which could be his best (only?) major asset in this fight.
At 27, Wladimir Klitschko is still quite young for a heavyweight. I think this fight is a natural step for him. I believe his blow-out loss to Sanders will eventually prove positive for his career. From there, he re-dedicated himself to becoming a champion at the right pace and took up with Freddie Roach. Wladimir’s first round demolition of Fabio Moli did not show us whether or not Roach had much of an impact on Wlad’s technical skills and his defense, but it did show us that his confidence has been resurrected even in the wake of a traumatizing loss, and I look for that to continue. Everyone knows that Wladimir hits well with both hands and moves more fluidly than his older brother, Vitali. I would hope that Saturday, that this fight last long enough for us to gauge how much Wlad has improved his deficiencies. Most notably, I would like to see more head movement, improved patience, and a less predictable pattern of movement in the ring.
I would guess that Wladimir will not enter the ring with the aggression level that his brother did against Kirk Johnson two weeks ago. I would expect him to be composed and I believe that Freddie Roach will do what he did with fighters like James Toney and Manny Pacquaio- take Wladimir’s existing skills and polish them up. I really hope this fight goes at least three or four rounds. In a perfect world, we would get to see eight or more. Alas, I don’t think the latter is going to be in the cards. My pick on this one is Wladimir Klitschko KO 4 over Danell Nicholson. I honestly do not see what Nicholson brings to the table that could potentially allow him to emerge victorious from this fight. Hopefully, this will be Wladimir’s last so-called tune-up fight before he can have the confidence to return to the upper echelon of the division and mix it up with the big boys. I believe he certainly has the talent, but momentarily lost track of the desire. Ask Wlad or ask Corrie Sanders-- five good or bad minutes in heavyweight boxing can make a world of difference.
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