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Tony Thompson vs. Wladimir Klitschko: Will Wladimir Be Too Afraid To Throw His Right?

Latest Tony Thompson Wladimir KlitschkoBy Erik Schmidt: Having seen many of Wladimir Klitschko’s (50-3, 44 KOs) early fights in Germany, I can’t say that I’ve been pleased with the changes that have occurred to his boxing style of fighting in recent years. More specifically, I’m referring to Wladimir’s recent reluctance to throw his right hand with any sense of regularity in his fights. I’m not sure what the cause for this growing fear is on Wladimir’s part, perhaps his knockout losses to Lamon Brewster and Corrie Sanders, but I do know that he’s going to have to overcome his dread to throw his right if he expects to defeat his number WBO #1 challenger Tony Thompson (31-1, 19 KOs) in their fight on July 12th at the Color Line Arena, Altona, in Hamburg, Germany.

If Wladimir thinks for a second that he can fight the same way he did against Sultan Ibragimov, whom he beat by a listless 12-round unanimous decision on February 23rd, he has a other thing coming. That was some of the worse fighting I’d seen from a heavyweight champion in years, and I’d expected better from Wladimir, given how well he used to fight earlier in his career. For me, and perhaps for a lot of other boxing writers and fans, they wonder what exactly happened to Wladimir to make him so scary about throwing his right hand. Was it the knockout losses, the fights in which he was knocked down by Samuel Peter and DaVarryl Williamson or is it a natural side effect of aging?

In many cases, fighters and people in general, become less risk-taking as they get older, avoiding circumstances and/or people that make them nervous. Is this was has happened to Wladimir? Is he now so afraid to throw his fight hand from having been burned in the past by big punchers that countered him when he would throw a right, that he now is just too wound up to throw the punch, period? It might not even be his fights that this happened, since he obviously spars many rounds before each fight, way more than the actual bout itself.

Could these sparring sessions, in which Wladimir was likely hit with big shots while trying to throw right hands, have made him now too afraid to throw a right altogether. If that’s not the case, and it’s not him becoming rigid, less flexible as he ages, could it be that his trainer Emanuel Steward has had this effect on him? In Steward’s price heavyweight pupil, Lennox Lewis, he was a fighter known for sometimes fighting timid, throwing jabs, clinching a lot and seeming to be afraid to let his right hand go at times.

However, I’m not precisely sure if this was something that was drummed into his head by Steward or if this was something that was just inside of Lewis, making him overly cautious in situations where it seemed he didn’t need to be. With Lewis, however, he was often able to summon up the courage to let his right hand go, in particular when a fighter was taking the fight to him. He wouldn’t angry, or show any fear, instead his fighting spirit would come out of him, making him fight hard and look great in doing so.

With Wladimir, we haven’t seen this, except in rare occasions in his career, once after being knocked down by Williamson in the 4th round their fight in 2004, and the other when Wladimir was forced to fight for his life in his bout with Samuel Peter in September 2005. Other than those two occasions, Wladimir has rarely showed any real bravery in his fights. Even in his two fights with Chris Byrd, one of the lightest-hitting heavyweights in the division, Wladimir treated him like he was a knockout artist, boxing him, staying on the outside, picking his punches carefully and only rarely throwing combinations of any sort.

I realize that he knocked Byrd out in the second fight, but if you want the first few rounds of the bout, Wladimir looks as if he’s too afraid to throw his right hand. I remember watching the fight, and thinking, ‘what is he afraid of.’? I still think the same thing when I see the fight, for it seems as if Wladimir was looking at Byrd as if he was going to unveil some newfound power and take him out in quick fashion like the manner in which Corrie Sanders had done to Wladimir in his 2nd round TKO victory over him in 2003.

Byrd, however, had no power to speak of, and couldn’t harm a fly with his punches. Recently, I was watching cruiserweight Shaun George’s nine-round destruction of Byrd, and noticing that George showed much more courage in attacking Byrd than Wladimir ever did in either of his two bouts with him.

This all leads me to Wladimir’s fight with Thompson. Can Wladimir win a fight using only his left hand, like he’s done in his last four fights? Thompson is a fighter that tends to put a lot of pressure on his opponents, making them fight hard in order to be competitive with him.

What will Wladimir do under those circumstances if he’s pushed hard by a fighter that refused to be beaten by a one-armed fighter like Wladimir? If faced with a situation with a fighter that refuses to be beaten easily, will Wladimir then find the courage to throw his right hand or will he fold up under the pressure of the situation like he has in past fights against Ross Puritty and Lamon Brewster. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

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