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Klitschko defeats Johnson

vit5Photo credit: Sumio Yamada – By Eric Thomas: WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko defeated challenger Kevin Johnson by a lopsided 12 round decision tonight in Bern, Switzerland. Johnson, 30, never was very competitive as he threw nothing but jabs all night long. By the 8th, Johnson began to tire out and absorb punishment on the ropes and mainly just cover up and try to spoil. The final judges’ scores were 119-109, 120 and 120-108.

Johnson looked raring to go before they stepped out for the 1st round. However, as soon as action started, Johnson immediately made a straight beeline for the ropes, where he stayed pretty much for the full 12 rounds. It’s hard to imagine what was going through Johnson’s head as he stayed against the ropes, because he certainly couldn’t have been under the impression that he was going to win the fight by staying with his back against the ropes. Whatever the case, Johnson stayed resting with his back against the ropes in the opening round, leaning way back over the ropes to avoid Klitschko’s big right hands.

The bout stayed on course in rounds two and three with Johnson remaining glued to the ropes, throwing jabs and trying to time Vitali so that he could land a rare right hand or left in between Klitschko’s shots. Vitali looked very relaxed in there, making it seem as if he was working over a lazy sparring partner. Only by looking at the huge crowd did one realize that this was an actual world title fight and not a glorified sparring session. Johnson was really stinking up the joint with his poor rope-a-dope strategy.

I’d seen boxing great Muhammad Ali employ the famous rope-a-dope technique against slugger George Foreman in their fight in the 70s. However, Ali was much better offensively and was able to land punches with both hands in between Foreman’s big shots. Johnson wasn’t doing this. Instead, he was mostly just taking shots and throwing back an occasional flicking jab.

In the 4th round, Johnson fought a lot better, landing some nice jabs and cutting Klitschko’s right eye with one of them. Towards the end of the round, Johnson began to get a little cocky, kissing his glove at one point after landing a nice jab. Klitschko, however, responded with a big right hand that caught Johnson cleanly and seem to more than make up for the jabs that he had been hit with.

Klitschko continued his domination in the 5th. It was the most one-sided round up until this point in the fight. Klitschko hammered Johnson over and over again with right hands and left hooks. Johnson began to lean way over to the right to avoid getting hit with the fight hands from Klitschko. However, Vitali then began to land left hooks.

In the 6th and 7th rounds, Johnson continued to jab and take shots. Klitschko dominated the 6th round with his steady work. However, in the 7th, Johnson was able to catch Klitschko repeatedly with hard jabs, snapping his head back each time. It was a close round, and you could possibly score it for Johnson because he finished the round strong by jabbing Klitschko repeatedly to the head.

The bout changed entirely in the 8th round, as Vitali seemed to turn it up a notch while Johnson’s jabs became more and more infrequent. Vitali dominated the round, hitting Johnson with some solid right hands. At one point, he landed a shot to the back of Johnson’s head when Kevin leaned forward exposing the back of his head to a punch. Johnson was quick to complain to the referee about it, even though it was his own fault for leaning forward and exposing the back of his head to Klitschko.

The 9th and 10th rounds were especially one-sided rounds, with Klitschko tagging Johnson at will with shots. By this point, Johnson looked tired and was doing nothing more than trying to make Klitschko look bad. It was sad that Johnson wasn’t willing to throw punches, because he was taking shots and losing round after round. He might not have been getting hit hard all the time, but the culminative damage seemed to be adding up.

In the 11th and 12th rounds, Klitschko began to try harder to score a knockout, loading up on his shots more and more. Sensing this, Johnson teased Klitschko, shaking his head after being hit with right hands and giving him grief when he would land a jab to the face. At the end of the 11th, Johnson attempted to nail Klitschko with a right hand, but it missed. In the 12th, Klitscchko went all out trying to score a knockout.

He landed some hard shots to the head of Johnson, and at one point seemed to have Johnson looking a little rattled, if not hurt. Klitschko raised his left hand in the air near the end of the round, trying to play to the crowd. Johnson didn’t seem to like this, began to throw more jabs. In the last seconds of the round, Johnson landed a good right hand that knocked Vitali off balance.

After the fight ended, the two stood staring at each other standing at the center of the ring, leaning against each other. Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali’s brother came over to put his hands on Johnson’s shoulder to make sure that no rough stuff would start up between the two fighters. Johnson immediately turned around and shoved Wladimir, at which point Wladimir put his hands in the air, as if to say ‘I’m not doing anything.’

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