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Wladimir Fights Chagaev on Saturday – Does Anyone Care?

Nonito Donaire Ruslan Chagaev Tony Dodson Wladimir SidorenkoPhoto courtesy of Klitschko.com – By Matt Stein: Another fight for Wladimir Klitschko against another opponent that hardly a soul cares about. In this case, Wladimir’s latest victim is Ruslan Chagaev, a heavyweight that has rarely found his way into a ring in the past two years due to one malady or another. It’s hard to believe that Klitschko, 33, has been a heavyweight champion of the IBF for the past three years because his fights and especially his opponents have been very forgettable.

It’s hard to say which has been worse – his opponents or the way that Wladimir has fought in the bouts. Whatever the case, the combination has turned off a generation of boxing fans in the United States who could care less whether Wladimir fights or not and don’t care in the least that he’s fighting Chagaev this Saturday.

Even with Wladimir’s previously scheduled opponent David Haye, the interest in watching Wladimir fight was registering barely a blip on the radar screen for boxing fans in America and Canada. Wladimir remains popular in Germany and other parts of Europe, but the fan base there is much smaller for boxing than is in the U.S., because of how badly boxing is marginalized over there in favor of other sports like soccer.

Wladimir could have helped himself years ago ignite his career had he fought in a little more entertaining style and actually let his hands go every once in awhile but sadly, as big as the 6’7” hulking Wladimir is, he tends to mostly jab and only sparingly throw right hands and left hooks.

At 33, Wladimir has time to make changes to his style of fighting to become a little more fan friendly, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, because you can tell just looking at him fight that he won’t be changing one iota regardless.

I realized that a long time ago when I saw Wladimir treating the weak-punching Sultan Ibragimov as if he was the second coming of George Foreman. Klitschko slapped and pawed with his jab for 12 long rounds and only threw a small handful of power punches in the entire fight and only then in the last couple of rounds.

By then, much of the Madison Square Garden crowd had filtered out and departed from the fight in utter disgust at his performance. Wladimir’s trainer Emanuel Steward was practically begging Wladimir to let his hands go, telling him this is going to be bad if you don’t start punching.

He didn’t and the crowd booed much of the action from the 7th until the end. Wladimir made no changes to his style of fighting in his next fight against Tony Thompson nor against Hasim Rahman after that. He is what he is. Wladimir wins most of his fights but because of his style of fighting, boxing fans have failed to appreciate him.

At this point, it probably doesn’t matte who Wladimir fights, because unless he starts knocking his opponents out in the early rounds like he used to do the fans will stay away in the U.S. and talk about the lower weight classes instead.

It is too bad that Haye cancelled out because of a bad back, because at least Haye would have forced Wladimir to fight. If Wladimir had played the safety first garbage with Haye, Wladimir’s head would have been planted in the sixth row by one of Haye’s bombs.

Sadly, Chagaev doesn’t have the power to make Wladimir break out of his timid defensive style of fighting and for those who’ll bother to see the fight, they’ll probably witness another dull fight like Wladimir’s 12-round decision victory over Ibragimov.

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