News – Vitali Klitschko to face Johnson or Maskaev in December
By William Mackay: World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko is reportedly looking to fight either unbeaten Kevin Johnson (22-0, 9 KO’s) or 40-year-old former WBC champion Oleg Maskaev in December. For boxing fans, neither of these fighters will likely bring much interest nor attract attention for Vitali. However, there just isn’t many choices for Klitschko in the division because of the lack of quality that exists at this time.
Believe it or not, Maskaev and Johnson is about the best that Klitschko can probably get in December. Of the two, Johnson is probably the better fighter, but that’s not saying whole lot. He has no power to speak of and has faced mostly lesser opposition while building up the appearances of a nice 22-0 record.
Most of his opponents, though, have been B and C level fighters unfortunately. Johnson would make it interesting for Klitschko in the same way that Chris Byrd and Juan Carlos Gomez did in their fights with Vitali. Johnson, 30, is considered to be a defensive fighter, although he’s starting to be a lot more hittable now that’s getting up their in years and putting on weight.
Johnson still is a difficult opponent to fight because of his slapping jab. He’s got a long reach and likes to flick out his jab repeatedly. It’s not a powerful jab like Vitali’s brother, Wladimir Klitschko, but it’s still a very effective weapon and essentially Johnson’s main tool for controlling his bouts.
In Johnson’s last fight, he showed a nice left hook that he went back to again and again to take out Devin Vargas. But, none of those weapons will be enough for Johnson to beat a huge fighter like 6’7” Vitali. They may slow the inevitable knockout for a time, but eventually Vitali will get to Johnson and take him out like he did in his last three fights against Samuel Peter, Gomez and Chris Arreola.
Johnson likes to lie against the ropes and play a kind of sloppy version of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope. When doing this, Johnson tends to throw a lot of left hooks to catch his opponents on the side of the head. If Johnson uses this strategy against Vitali, he’ll be beaten senseless by the big Ukrainian because this won’t work because of Klitschko won’t stand in close enough for Johnson to land.
At best, Johnson would find himself in a fight where he’s trading shots with Vitali. That’s not a fight that Johnson can win because he’ll break down and take too punishment. That kind of style works against the low quality opposition that Johnson has been facing up to this point, but not against someone like Klitschko.
A fight against Maskaev would be quick, brutal and sad. Maskaev might have a place in the heavyweight division as perhaps a gatekeeper of some sorts, but I don’t see him as a contender at this stage in his career. If he were to have to work his way into a mandatory spot by facing another top contender like Eddie Chambers, Alexander Povetkin or Chris Arreola, I don’t think Maskaev could do it.
He might be ranked nicely right now because of the WBC, I personally don’t think he should be anywhere near the top 5. Against Vitali, Maskaev would have no chance and would be hammered into submission by the 5th or 6th rounds if Klitschko took his time. If Vitali came out fast, Maskaev probably wouldn’t make it out of the 1st or 2nd round.
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