Boxing


The Intriguing Return of King Vitali Klitschko

24.01.07 - By Scoop Malinowski: It is always a dynamic thrill for boxing when the former Heavyweight king decides to return to the ring to recapture his throne. Only except when a Klitschko is involved because almost anything to do with the Klitschko's here in America is twisted in a negative way.

You probably noticed there already is plenty of American media complaining that poor Samuel Peter is getting shafted here. But where was the same frustration from these supposedly nuetral American boxing writers when Wladimir Klitschko mysteriously got leapfrogged in the rankings by DaVarryl Williamson - a man he beat just a few months earlier? This IBF rankings manuever which unfairly rewarded Don King's fighter Williamson into a small money title shot with Chris Byrd cost Wladimir almost a year of valuable time as champion (everyone knew he would slaughter Byrd who ducked Klitschko as long as he possibly could)..

Then the anti-Klitschko brigade forced Wladimir to fight Samuel Peter in an IBF Eliminator if he wanted to fight the Byrd-Williamson winner. This move was purely designed to erase Klitschko from the scene, as almost everyone thought he couldn't take a Peter power punch. How wrong they were. (In fact, we learned Peter could barely take the Klitschko 12th round left hook.)

When Wladimir Klitschko tried to fight Sergei Liakhovich in 2005 while waiting to nail down Byrd, one respected member of the American media referred to the former Belarussian Olympian as "Liakobitch", as a way of snidely putting down Klitschko's choice of opponent. But of course this writer did not use that nasty slur when WBO champ Lamon Brewster later signed to defend against Liakhovich who then put forth one of the most valiant title-winning efforts we've seen in a long time. This is just one of countless examples of the hideously blatant double-edged media bias that exists - and continues to exist - against the Klitschkos.

Now Vitali is coming back to the ring. Even King Vitali, who was never behind on the scorecards in a fight and who barely lost any rounds during his career, was grossly misportrayed as an awkward stumblebum who only ruled because it was such a weak era. The American media never could understand how devastatingly effective his unorthodox style was. They only seem to remember the unlucky cut vs. Lennox Lewis (the only cut of Vitali's career in the ring) and the shoulder injury vs. Byrd.

The American media cast a blind and ignorant eye on the devastating knockout of Herbie Hide who laid incoherent on his back with his arms almost straight up, the sense-numbing damage all from but a three or four inch grazing left jab. The American media sneered at the dominations of Larry Donald, Obed Sullivan, Orlin Norris, Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders and Danny Williams. Oh yeah, Sanders was a golfer and Kirk came in fat, and Danny didn't deserve the title shot.

Allow me to correct the ignorance. Sanders was not a golfer, he was one of the most dangerous, speedy and powerful lefties in heavyweight history. And if Charles Barkley, Ben Wallace, Brian Urlacher or Ray Lewis decide to try heavyweight boxing because "it's such a weak era", Sanders, even in his present condition, would put all of them in need of smelling salts in the first round.

It seems as if the Klitschko denigrators have a natural, uncontrollable impulse to discredit any achievement the Klitschko's make. They even cast negativity on the astounding performance against Lennox Lewis, who they claim was out of shape. I know for a fact Lewis was in top shape for Klitschko, I was in the camp and asked members of the Lewis team how serious he was taking original opponent Kirk Johnson. Because it was the kind of minor fight Lewis might be complacent about, as he was in the past for Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman. But they assured me vehemently Lewis was training very hard and he was even breaking records in running and sprinting drills.

Then Klitschko went out and very nearly destroyed Lewis in one of the most exciting brawls, I say, in heavyweight title history. The unlucky cut in round three gave Lewis a much needed psychological boost of hope. Without that cut, I don't see how Lewis could have won. But then again, it would be unwise to underestimate such a great, great fighter as Lennox Lewis.

I actually believe Vitali Klitschko is one of the all-time great heavyweights. No, he did not have an all-time great career, but his effective style, size advantages and warrior heart I believe would have made him competitive with any man from history. Vitali had great handspeed, great self-belief and intelligence, a great chin, and highly effective but awkwardly thrown punches. (Just watch the Hide and Williams fights again if you doubt it.)

Sure you can laugh if you want at my complimentary views on Vitali. Just like you laughed when I predicted Tarver would KO Jones, just like Wally Matthews and Jon Saraceno laughed when I said Lennox would eventually rule the era, if he ever gets the opportunity. Laugh all you want but don't forget this: there are clear reasons why Don King would not permit his titleholders John Ruiz, Byrd or Lamon Brewster to unify against Vitali. King knew he'd lose his pawns, that's why.

King never will let one of his titleholders ever fight a Klitschko, no matter what he preaches to any TV camera or tape recorder. And that fact should tell you a lot.

And the truth that Wladimir is getting frozen out of unification today is, I believe the primary motive for Vitali to come back. Wladimir is the best heavyweight today but the anti-Klitschko lobby can't risk to see him gain all the belts, they just can't risk letting him fight Oleg Maskaev or Nikolay Valuev. He'll beat them both in resounding style where the whole sporting world would then know the truth about who is the absolute ruler. Shannon Briggs is the only hope at the moment but King can't risk it, for King knows deep within his heart how good Wladimir is.

So, like Vitali was derailed from unification during his reign, Wladimir is facing the same freeze-out now. The powers are forcing him to fight King's undeserving Ray Austin next. Lennox had to go through with the same type of injustice, as King was able to force Lewis to fight his WBC mandatories Akinwande, McCall, Tucker - all fights that helped to freeze Lewis out of the Tyson/Bowe/Holyfield mix in the '90s.

But Wladimir understands the situation, and despite his frustrations, is vowing to show "no mercy" on Austin. Just as he quietly but forcefully said he would show Chris Byrd "no pity" last year. Byrd, brave beyond belief, suffered one of the most vicious beatings you will ever see.

So it appears at this point in time, a Klitschko unification can only happen if Vitali comes back to lend a helping hand. The alliances are too strong against Wladimir now, there are too many politricks and deceptions in conspiracy to freeze him out with just the token Marian Muhammad IBF belt.

So the scene is set. Vitali vs. Maskaev, tentatively in April.

This unimaginably unique story about how big brother Vitali is coming back to help achieve the family dream of world Heavyweight title unification should be one of the most exciting, dramatic and fascinating stories in heavyweight history.

But the American media probably won't see or portray it that way.


Scoop Malinowski has completed his book "Lewis vs. Tyson Heavyweight Armageddon! The Inside Story About The Biggest Money Fight in Boxing History." It will be published in 2008.

Article posted on 24.01.2007



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