By Bob Smith: I have been a big fan of Wladimir Klitschko for some time, and have defended him as being underrated, and claimed that this underrated status was due to ethnic or cultural bias or failure to acknowledge the dominance that the two Klitschko brothers have exercised over the heavyweight division for nearly 10 years.
But he becomes more difficult to defend after his win over WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin last Saturday night in Moscow, Russia. I can understand trying to take the crowd out of the fight, but I counted 36 clinches in the first three rounds, and after that the fight became too boring for even me to watch. I am aware that Klitschko has power and a good jab, but I don’t think that Povetkin, while a good fighter, is even near in quality to the fighters of the 1990s era – Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, and so on. I say this as a person who likes to watch boxing and has seen the bulk of the televised fights of both Klitschko brothers.
How then would Klitschko face against those foes from the pre-2004 era? I do not doubt that he would defeat Holyfield and Tyson. With both of these fighters he would simply use his size and reach and jab to wear them down and lean on them. Besides, he is so far away that even these tough warriors would not be able to get inside to land a damaging punch – I say this of the Klitschko after Emanuel Steward improved his defense, not the earlier Klitschko, who may well have lost a slug-fest.
He would have much more difficulty with Riddick Bowe or Lennox Lewis. I think that it is very realistic that he could lose to Lennox Lewis on points, but Riddick Bowe would not have the power to hurt or stagger him. And George Foreman of the 1990s would not have been able to withstand his power and would not have been skilled or quick enough to get inside his jab.
So, while I agree that Klitschko is a boring fighter, and I personally as a fan found him too boring to even watch on this occasion, that does not mean that he is a weak fighter, or one who would not dominate competition from an earlier era. He is simply too big and too strong for fighters half a foot less than him in size, and he wins on points against most fighters his own size.
And he still does have the second longest title run of any heavyweight in history – he should be commended for this, and if it is true that styles win fights, Klitschko did manage to take the crowd completely out of this fight and get the UD with four knockdowns en route to it.