Klitschko’s Last Hurrah?

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar April 29, 2017 16:33

Klitschko’s Last Hurrah?

By Traolach Kaye © Traolach Kaye (April 29th 2017)

Messages

“Saturday 29 April. Wembley Stadium. Major Event. Expect Delays”

Short and to the point, high on information and low on hyperbole, the above message can be found in the form of bright amber dots winking from digital roadside signs placed in and around the major thoroughfares approaching Wembley Stadium in North West London.

Tonight, Wladimir Klitschko (240 lbs), a 41-year-old former champion and betting outsider, will face England’s 27-year-old Anthony Joshua (250) for the IBF Heavyweight Championship and, perhaps, a lot more.

According to the experts, the press, the bookies, the fans, this one is all but over. Joshua in a few rounds….”Joshua easy…..Joshua early. Joshua will be the world’s first Billonaire Boxer. Joshua will rescue boxing”. etc.

Mind-sets

I am not entirely sure about the mind-set of either man going into this. Klitschko claims to be “Obsessed”, ‘never in better shape, and reaping the benefits of an 18 month layoff’ following his surprise (to some) defeat to Tyson Fury in his last fight.

For Joshua, he is expected to win big and early, but he’s at home, under pressure to perform – not just win – and is facing somebody a few postal zones removed from the goons he’s faced up to now.

Joshua’s biggest win is over Dillian Whyte, who remains at the time of writing a British-Level heavyweight of no great distinction. Joshua’s defence and chin are suspect and thank to the poor opposition he has faced. He has not been forced to address these issues or had greater light shed upon them, his 2nd round scare vs Dillian Whyte aside. All of his fights beside the White bout have been against damaged or aging opposition who immediately went on the back foot and offered precious little resistance and threw very few punches.

Regarding his own World Title credentials, Joshua holds a title thanks to the IBF stripping Fury and mandating a fight between two undeserving contenders – Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Glazkov and the United States Charles Martin. That fight saw Martin crowned Champion after Glazkov retired in 3 rounds with a ruptured ligament. Martin duly travelled to the United Kingdom to take promoter Eddie Hearn’s shilling and was knocked out in perfunctory fashion by Joshua.

Champion by Default?

Joshua might be the IBF Champion but, simply put, he is not the former IBF Champion, Tyson Fury. This does not dent his chances per se, but it does mandate to an extent how the fight will or, will not play out. He can’t move like Fury and he’s not the natural fighter Fury is. He doesn’t think like Fury. He doesn’t change stance and feint and gurn and shapeshift like Fury. Nor has he negotiated the 12 round distances as Fury had several times before he beat Klitschko.

People have forgotten that Fury is an utterly fearless character, perfectly at home in a prize-ring. They have forgotten that he’s the most natural mover the division has seen for decades, a very clever fighter with a bag of tricks rivalled by few.

Joshua is simply not that sort of person or fighter. So how can he win?

Joshua could come out swinging but that’s not actually his style, contrary to popular belief…..and it’s been a while since anyone rushed Klitschko and had any degree of success.

Kubrat Pulev tried it and appeared to be having success. For around 30 seconds. Then he walked onto a left hook and never recovered. I believe that how the fight goes will depend more on what Klitschko has left, if anything, rather than on what Joshua brings to the fray.

The Klitschko Factor

Klitschko looks and has looked for some time, a fighter in decline. He lost to Fury, and was perfectly average in his win over Bryant Jennings. Joshua might be better than both Fury and Jennings but there’s precious little proof of this, due regard being had for Joshua’s competition (18 KO’s from 18 fights, but no names of any significance) but Joshua is unlikely to provide the same stylistic problems that both of those men did.

It is my belief that Klitschko will benefit from rather than be hindered by the time spent away from the ring in the past 18 months. He looks, facially, a fresher man. He seems calm and relaxed and despite being 10 pounds lighter he looks the taller, bigger man. Joshua has never faced the likes of Klitschko before, but Klitschko has seen plenty of guys built like Joshua.

Defining Fight

Of course, Joshua is a heavy puncher, is a younger man and will have raucous home support. Time, as pointed out by many pundits and boxers alike, waits for no man. Klitschko has been stopped before and as suppositions go it is perfectly plausible that the heavier younger Joshua, a man fond of moving his hands in the early rounds – he has never completed 7 rounds, much less gone the full 12 – will simply overwhelm Klitschko in the early going, in a fashion reminiscent of how Corrie Sanders blasted Klitschko out in 2 brutal rounds in 2002.

I do not see that happening. If Klitschko is to win, and he can win, he will keep things tight in the early going and seek to drag his heavier less-experienced opponent into the later rounds and wear him down, holding when he has to, moving when he has to, and jabbing as he does so. Klitschko may well be admonished for holding, and may well have points deducted early for this, but he will keep his composure and keep fighting.

Joshua will get hit harder, more often and for longer than he has ever done before. Of the pair, I believe that Klitschko has the single biggest punch, his left hook – if he can unload it. If he can, it will be the biggest punch Joshua has ever faced.

Joshua may indeed be destined for Superstardom at some point in the future. Until then, he would do well to heed the amber words of the roadside sign: Expect Delays.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar April 29, 2017 16:33