Team Leapai wants the referee to control Wladimir’s clinching on Saturday night
(Picture Credit: KMG/Michael Sterling Eaton) By Allan Fox: Noel Thornberry, the trainer for challenger Alex Leapai (30-4-3, 24 KO’s), is hoping that the referee assigned to his fight this Saturday night against IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Wlaidmir Klitschko (61-3, 51 KO’s), will limit the amount of clinches that the 6’6” Wladimir does in their fight in order for Leapai to have a fair chance of winning the fight at the Koenig Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.
It’s no secret that Wladimir uses the clinch to control his opponents to keep them from being able to throw punches, but Thornberry wants the referee to do his job by making sure that the clinching from Wladimir isn’t excessive.
American referee Eddie Cotton will be working the fight on Saturday night, and it’s going to be up to him whether to police the clinching from Wladimir to try and curtail it or to simply ignore the clinching and let him clinch as frequently as he likes. In looking at Wladimir’s past handful of fights, none of the referees have done anything to control his clinching, and this had made it easy for him to fight without getting hit much.
“I just want to make sure we don’t end up in the same situation as Alexander Povetkin,” Thorberry said. “The whole 12 rounds were a carbon copy. All it was is clinching from Wladimir from the first round of the fight. It was excessive holding. All we want is a fair go and a fight. They can say that’s boxing. That’s not boxing. It’s wrestling. It’s not boxing and it shouldn’t be allowed. I’ve seen boxers disqualified for far less.”
Cotton might need to take off points to get Wladimir to change his tactics, and even then it’s quite possible he’ll continue to hold unless there’s a chance of him being disqualified. Cotton might have to warn Wladimir that he’ll disqualify him for him to get him to stop clinching. A mere point deduction might not do the job, because it’s too beneficial for Wladimir to clinch because it keeps him from taking big head shots, and it also saves him energy because he doesn’t move around the ring to avoid getting hit.
We saw Wladimir run out of gas from moving in his fight against Ross Puritty in 1998. If the current version of Wladimir had been in the ring with the hard hitting Puritty on that night, he’d have likely clinched his way to a wide decision. But Wladimir wasn’t clinching back then, and he was forced to move continuously because each time he would stop, Puritty would nail him with hard shots to the head.
This Saturday’s Wladimir-Leapai fight will be taking place in Germany, and it’s highly doubtful that Cotton will do much to control Wladimir’s clinching other than give him a warning that will likely be ignored.
It’s probably going to take at least 2 point deductions by Cotton in addition to a final warning of disqualification for him to get Wladimir to stop clinching Leapai. None of this will matter if Wladimir destroys the short 6-foot Leapai in the first 4-6 rounds, which is a very real possibility given the huge difference in size, experience and talent between the two heavyweights.