By John F. McKenna (McJack): In what has become monotonously commonplace another European heavyweight hopeful has acknowledged that he is not yet ready for the Klitschko’s. Newly crowned British heavyweight champion David Price (13-0, 11 KO’s) is fresh off of his 4th round KO over Sam Sexton (15-3, 6 KO’s) on Saturday night. Price is being hyped by his promoter Frank Maloney as an antidote to the Klitschko’s long rule of the heavyweight division.
While it is true that with only 13 fights under his belt Price needs more experience before he steps into the ring with either of the Klitschko brothers, David is joining an increasingly long list of heavyweights who quite candidly admit that they do not measure up to the Klitschko brothers.
“Regular” WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin (24-0, 16 KO’s) won his WBA belt when he defeated Ruslan Chagaev (29-2-1, 18 KO’s) last August. In an unusual move the World Boxing Association elevated WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO and Ring Magazine titlist Wladimir Klitschko (57-3, 50 KO’s) to Super WBA champion after he defeated then WBA champion David Haye in July 2011. The WBA then vacated Klitschko’s regular WBA title. The move allowed Povetkin, who was being handled by American trainer Teddy Atlas to fight for the vacant “regular” WBA title.
Prior to winning the vacant WBA title team Povetkin was in discussions for a title fight with Wladimir Klitscho but the fight never came to pass. It was later revealed by Atlas that he did not think that his study was ready for a fight with Wladimir. “Dr. Steelhammer’s” elevation to “Super” WBA heavyweight champion negated the need for Povetkin to fight the younger Klitschko in order to obtain a title belt of his own.
Over the past few months Tyson Fury and Robert Helenius have also admitted that they too are not ready for the Klitschko’s. Last fall Wladimir sought out Chris Arreola in hope of taking him on in a title fight, perhaps in America. Team Arreola also decided that their fighter was in need of more experience before taking on another Klitschko. Arreola was stopped by WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko in ten rounds in September 2009.
Wladimir was widely criticized by boxing pundits last fall when he signed to fight 40 year old Jean Marc Mormeck. But the reality is that at the time he literally could not find a viable opponent who was willing to take him on.
Looking back through the history of past heavyweight champions it is difficult to find a similar situation to the one which now exists in boxing. Jack Dempsey was only 24 when he took on and destroyed the towering and imposing figure of Jess Willard in 1919. Willard was roughly equivalent in size to the Klitschko’s and thought at the time to be unbeatable.
Fast forward to 1937 and you see 23 year old Joe Louis knocking out Jimmy Braddock.
Floyd Patterson was a youthful 21 years old when he became the heavyweight champion by knocking out “The Old Mongoose” Archie Moore in 1956.
Then Cassius Clay was but 22 years old when he stopped the “Big Ugly Bear” that was Sonny Liston in 1964.
It is difficult to imagine any of these great champions turning down a shot at the most precious prize in sports, the heavyweight championship of the world, because they felt they were not quite ready.
It is also puzzling to this writer to imagine why a fighter who is in his mid to late twenty’s would think that he was at a disadvantage facing Wladimir at 36 or Vitali at 40.
It has always been the perception in boxing circles that a fighter in his mid to late 20’s has a decided advantage over a fighter in his late 30’s.
In Dempsey’s case it would have been understandable if he had balked at taking on Willard. Big Jess outweighed Dempsey by 58 pounds and had already killed a man in the ring in addition to knocking out Jack Johnson in the 26th round. But Dempsey did not say “Hey wait, I need a little bit more time and experience!”
Perhaps the current crop of heavyweight prospects should take a backward look at the great fighters who preceded them.