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Was It A Waste Of Time For Klitschko To Fight Ibragimov?

Latest Sultan Ibragimov Wladimir KlitschkoBy Nick Adams: I was one of the vocal minority who felt that IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (50-3, 44 KOs) was wasting his time in taking a unification fight with WBO heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov (22-1-1, 17 KOs) last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. I thought nothing good could possibly come of such a bout, since few people would bestow upon Wladimir any more respect and love for beating Ibragimov, a fighter that few consider a really talented fighter, than he would get by fighting someone else instead.

I saw the small 6’1″ southpaw Ibragimov as nothing more than a younger version of Chris Byrd, the type of fighter that fights mostly defensively, and one who only fights in brief bursts when he sees a small opening. It was a fighter that Wladimir, 31, only had a small chance of looking good in, and only way that would happen is if he was willing to go all out and force some right hands through the guard of Ibragimov to bring him down. Unfortunately for Wladimir, and us fans, the fight turned out to be a chess match, a very dull one at that. If anything, the respect for Wladimir Klitschko has gone down considerably in the eyes of most fans, who see him as a huge fighter with a lot of skills but one that is too timid use them.

In other words, Wladimir’s idea of winning over more fans by fighting a unification bout has been a big disappointment. Going into the fight, I saw it as a futile attempt to Wladimir’s part, because a win over Ibragimov would gain him very little, if anything, from the fans in the way of more respond. More than that, it was a fight that Wladimir stood to lose a lot, for if he won and looked bad, like what ultimately happened, than it would have been a useless exercise on his part.

Instead of fighting weaker champions like Ibragimov and WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev, Klitschko needed to be going after the winner of the WBC title match between Oleg Maskaev and Samuel Peter.

At least that way it would actually mean something to the fans. Even in fighting the loser of the bout, whether Peter or Maskaev, it would be much more of an exciting bout for fans than a mismatch against Ibragimov or Chagaev. Don’t get me wrong, both of those fighters are okay, but not quality fighters and certainly not what I consider legitimate heavyweight champions. Unfortunately for Wladimir, his older Brother, Vitali, is next in line for the winner of Maskaev vs. Peter.

However, I have serious doubts whether his injury racked body will ever make it into another fight again, much less against either Peter or Maskaev. Ideally, if Vitali can’t make though another training session, that could possibly open up an opportunity for Wladimir to step in and save the day. I can’t possibly foresee Vitali getting yet another chance if he were to get injured again while training. If that happens, he’d likely have to fight his way back to the top, which is highly unlikely.

Now that Wladimir has won the WBO title, it hasn’t given him much of anything other than the fact that he now has to defend against mandatories for that title as well. I suppose the only good from that is that Tony Thompson, the number # 1 mandatory for the WBO, would likely be Wladimir’s next title defense. This would enable Klitschko to delay his mandatory for his IBF title, which will be against the tough Russian Alexander Povetkin. Considering how bad Wladimir looked last Saturday night, I think it best that he fight Thompson rather than Povetkin.

Going from a light-hitting, safety first fighter like Ibragimov to a heavy pressure fighter like Povetkin would be like stepping in fire place. I think it would be best for Wladimir to take on Thompson next, a fighter that I consider to be better offensively than Ibragimov, and one who will test Wladimir for as long as the fight lasts, rather than going straight into a fight with Povetkin. However, Klitschko, as we’ve just seen against Ibragimov, as well as past fights against Corrie Sanders, Ross Puritty, and Lamon Brewster, doesn’t always make the wisest decisions in terms of choosing his opponents.

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