Klitschko stellar, Guinn stagnant
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (April 24, 2005)  
Photo © Mr.Will HoganPhotos.com
Two former highly touted heavyweights were on the comeback trail on the weekend, but only one was able to start the long climb back to the top. So far the beaten path has produced a 2-0 Klitschko who looks to be the favorite if his chin can hold up, and the 0-1-1 Guinn who appears to be going the opposite direction in a less than entertaining fashion. Both at one time were the ‘fan favorite’ until losses prompted them to fall from grace in the eyes of the boxing public. From the future of the heavyweight division to being so called ‘exposed’, Wladimir and Dominick have had their share of opinionated fans, writers and highly regarded ringside critics. What will become of the two?

Wladimir Klitschko 44-3 (40)

The towering pugilist was the man of the hour for many fans. After punching himself out and tasting his first loss against Ross Purity in 1998 the former 1996 Olympic hold medalist went on a rampage over the heavyweight division knocking out his first ten opponents after the disappointing loss. His dominating jab and excruciating power felt by many prompted the Ukrainian to boxing stardom. With destructive wins over Monte Barrett (TKO 7), Chris Byrd (UD 12) and another boxing big man in Jameel McCline (TKO 10) many believed the younger Klitschko was going to be the heir to the heavyweight throne. After banging out a more than impressive record of 40-1 (37) and winning the WBC International, WBA International, European (EBU) and WBO heavyweight titles, young Wladimir was well on his way to boxings elite. In many eyes he was already elite, but then…

In March of ’03 Wladimir matched-up against South African Corrie Sanders, a quick fisted semi-retired southpaw. Unfortunately for Klitschko his near to perfect arsenal left out the one thing the big guys need – a chin. Wlad was rocked, shocked and humiliated in two rounds, hitting the canvas four times to taste his second defeat. The critics that raved on endlessly about this dominating heavy hitter were now biting his back with more than distasteful comments on their once prized possession. In the words of many…

Wladimir was exposed!

Two confidence-building knockout victories later and Wladimir was back in the mix, this time facing the full-hearted heavyweight Lamon Brewster for the vacant WBO title. For four rounds Wlad looked to be back, dominating with his jab and flooring Brewster in the fourth round. But Brewster had different plans that night. Some say Wlad punched himself out while others screamed on about foul play, but many witnessed a shocking fifth round victory for the newly crowned Brewster. For the second time in just thirteen months Wladimir was faced with yet another upsetting loss and all the harsh criticism tagged along with it.

Four months after the Brewster loss Waldimir was back in the square, this time against hard hitting, so called ‘soft chinned’ DaVarryl Williamson who was stopped in just one round two fights prior to facing Klitschko. Once again Klitschko gave in to the canvas in a bore fest of a fight until gaining the W via technical decision when he was cut due to a head butt.

Where is Klitschko now?

Well, he did win, and won easily against the formally unbeaten Eliseo Castillo in four rounds for the HBO crowd. With a ring entrance as extravagant as a Naseem Hamed lightshow, the twenty-nine year old heavyweight was greeted with acceptance and appreciation from the German community. The Cuban boxer ate many Klitschko jabs and the less than active Castillo let Wald control the fight. No threat, no pressure, no pain, equaled an easy victory for Waldimir Klitschko when he knocked downed his pacifistic punching prey, and after wobbling back to the neutral corner it was over giving Klitschko a much needed KO victory at 2:51 in the fourth round. As ring announcer Michael Buffer announced, “He’s back!”

Or is he?

It actually remains to be seen, a win over a fighter who didn’t apply pressure in any kind of form or fashion doesn’t convince the boxing world that Wlad has turned over a new leaf and will beat down anyone who gets in his path on his way back to the top. Yes he won, and yes it was deserving, but was it enough to change the hearts and minds of many boxing enthusiasts? Not likely. Before this bout Wlad was ranked WBA #13, IBF #4, and WBO #2, so unless he gets shocked by yet another before he gets a crack at a titleholder, he will remain a legit contender.

Dominick Guinn 25-2-1 (18)

‘The Southern Disaster’. That pretty much sums it up. So much potential, so much talent, so much wasted. This former amateur bad boy banged away in 316 amateur bouts, he was a Bronze Medal winner in the Goodwill games and in the summer of 2000 this hot prospect made his victorious debut. In his rookie season Guinn knocked out all but one of his opponents, ending five fights in the opening round. Embarking on a career in boxing Dominick appeared to have made the correct choice in doing so. The 6’3” Arkansas native was making his mark on the division with wins over Charles Hatcher by TKO 9, Michael Grant by TKO 7, who both hit the floor four times apiece, and then a solid win over Duncan Dokiwari by ten round unanimous decision. Guinn looked to be untouchable in his path to the top of the division, but…

The fire was quenched and no longer burning.

Fighting for the first time in his home state of Arkansas, Guinn looked to continue his climb with a win over Monte Barrett, but the decline began. The very fighter who came on strong in twenty-four fights before seemed to fade. But surely this wasn’t Guinn, it was an off night and he would bounce back… wouldn’t he?

Four months after the disappointing loss Dominick was back to business and faced fight veteran Phil Jackson. Stopping Jackson in the first round, Guinn appeared to be ready to move on. In December of ’04 in front of the ESPN fans Guinn matched wits against the Belarus boxer Serguei Lyakhovich, a once-beaten virtual unknown. Physically Guinn came out prepared to fight and ready to win, but somebody forgot to remind his way of thinking because he lacked in his style and motivation the whole ten rounds. After another bore fest Guinn fell to defeat and didn’t seem hungry enough to want anything inside the ring.

What happens to Guinn now?

Well, Friday night he faced off against Friday Ahunanya in yet another stagnant ESPN performance. Before the fight Guinn stated he would let his hands go but somewhere between the ring entrance and fight itself he forgot to do so. Highly regarded trainer Ronnie Shields looked as if he wanted to whack Guinn with the corner stool to wake his fighter’s butt up. The bout was less than entertaining and the crowd let it be known when they booed the finished work of both fighters. Seldom did Guinn put his punches together and the same went for Ahunanya. In the end two of the judges agreed when they scored the sleeper 95-95 and 95-95, while the third judges scored it 97-93 for a majority draw. Guinn landed 84 punches while Ahunanya connected 50 times in ten rounds – uneventful, unexciting and uncalled for! What is up with Guinn, what happened to this hot prospect, where did he go wrong? The real question is can and Guinn regain his footing and began to climb the ladder once more?

End Thoughts

Both Wladimir and Dominick are very skillful fighters; they have talent and can pose a threat to any opponent they face, unless they get bucked. Wladimir is a solid tactician, great jab, very good power, puts his punches together very well, an all around athlete, but the one thing that affects his performance is his mental toughness. Proven to fold under pressure, what would better his skills? Develop a chin and forget the past, but the humiliating losses still haunt him and it doesn’t matter that trainer Emanuel Steward may say, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with his jaw.” Well, apparently there is Big E, three have tested that theory so far and have came to one conclusion: it can be knocked, rocked and put to sleep. As far as Guinn goes, all I can say is WAKE UP! You have the talents to become world champ, but do you really want that? Well, do yah? If so, instead of keeping your paws to your side let them go and roam freely, find hunger and you’ll find victory. Can the two grasp the top rung and pull themselves up to get what they want?

I certainly hope so, but only time will tell.
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