Klitschko Disappoints
By David Douse (Feb 26, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Bob Kolb)  
Wladimir Klitschko may indeed have shown himself to be the world's premier heavyweight boxer but, unfortunately, on Saturday night's showing at Madison Square Garden, he may now also have shown himself to be the world's most boring heavyweight. Despite his overwhelming advantages over an undersized and completely outgunned opponent, Klitschko failed to produce even the very least sign of being a dominant and exciting fighter. Instead he gave very clear indications that despite his huge size, strength, power and technical ability, that he is in fact a very risk averse fighter who is unwilling to take any kind of a
shot from an opponent whom he should not have had the slightest difficulty in walking right through.

The name of the game is of course boxing, not brawling, and so the whole idea is to hit the other guy without being hit yourself if you can avoid it. That said, a truly insipid performance of the kind we were treated to by Wladimir is hardly the stuff upon which great reputations are forged and perhaps now he will need to significantly raise his aggression output (particularly in the form of firing the big right-hand which seemed to take the night off this time) if he hopes to keep HBO onside and providing the big paychecks.

Sultan Ibragimov showed heart in attempting to get inside from time to time with rushing tactics but he was so clearly overmatched in all departments that he came to resemble (and I mean no disrespect to him as he showed no lack of courage) a fly buzzing around the head of a great bear. Annoying, but not dangerous. Consequently, the frustration factor at Klitschko's unwillingness to engage in anything remotely resembling an act of war grew ever greater, and surely questions must now be asked as to whether Wladimir might be somewhat gunshy and suffering from the memories of his visits to the canvas courtesy of Lamont Brewster, Corrie Sanders and Sam Peter.

There is a tentative quality to Klitschko's demeanour in the ring which contrasts unfavourably with previous heavyweight champions whose manner made it clear to one and all that the ring was theirs to command. Maybe his rather stiff posture and robotic style are a physical manifestation of a mindset which indicates that he is actually far from comfortable, at home, and truly relaxed in his place of business. By way of example, although his left jab accumulated sufficient points for him on the night to win the rounds, he seemed so anxious to get the left hand back to cover his chin that at times he almost seemed to be pulling it back before it was fully extended. Again raising questions regarding an overcautious frame of mind.

Last week in his rematch with Kelly Pavlik, former Emmanuel Steward protégé Jermain Taylor showed us how to lose a decision but gain admirers. This time round, the current Steward star pupil showed us how to come away winning a clear-cut decision but be somehow diminished in the process.

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