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20/20 Hindsight: Trying Really Hard to Think of Someone Who Could Beat Wladimir Klitschko... and Failing

I don't think Wladimir Klitschko is unbeatable. I'm just having a difficult time trying to figure out who might be able to disprove that notion.

I know he's lost before, because I remember shaking my head in disbelief as he went down at the hands of Lamon Brewster, or even worse, Corrie Sanders. It's just that those fights seem like a lifetime ago.

In some respects, Klitschko is like Manny Pacquiao in that they honestly aren't the same boxers they were five or six years ago. Both have improved dramatically, so it really shouldn't come as any surprise that neither has lost in years despite fighting top competition.

And make no mistake about it, Dr. Steelhammer is fighting the best heavyweights this era can produce to send against him. It's not his fault that the current crop of contenders is particularly poor.

It's also not his fault that he's bigger and taller than all of his opponents. Size isn't everything, but when married to skill and power, it's pretty damn tough to beat.

That was proven once again this past Saturday when Klitschko took on Eddie Chambers. Fast Eddie spent a lot of time dressed down in defense, as Antonio Tarver would say, blocking and slipping punches.

When Chambers tried to attack, though, he had few options. Klitschko's jab was in his face all night, keeping him outside of effective punching range and forcing him to jump in just to get anything off.

He tried to counter over the jab a few times too, but when your opponent is five-plus inches taller than you, it simply doesn't work. Comically, he actually had to jump to try a right hand at one point.

Klitschko wore him down with relentless jabbing and just enough right hands and left hooks to hurt him on occasion. It was one of the latter punches that knocked out Chambers just seconds short of going the distance, a wide left that didn't look that devastating live but appeared very powerful in replays.

It wasn't the sexiest performance ever, which is often the case with Wlad. Trainer Emanuel Steward was begging for more activity from him even after a win on the cards was in the bag. It's understandable that Klitschko starts off cautiously, given his history, but somewhat mystifying when he doesn't open up more after the other guy has proven not to be much of a threat.

Still, Wlad did win, making it 12 in a row since the April 2004 loss to Brewster, nine by stoppage. Anyone waiting for him to revert to his old underachieving form has got to be pretty frustrated at this point.

What will it take for someone to upset Klitschko? Quite possibly a set of traits that doesn't exist in any current contender.

It's hard to see anyone out-pointing him, because he's a skilled boxer whose patient (some would say boring) style just makes it that much tougher to get to him. Guys who are slick enough to do it (like Chambers) can't get inside the powerful jabs and spend most of their time getting discouraged.

So testing Wlad's sometimes questionable whiskers is in order. The problem for power punchers is still the same, though: how do you get close enough to land any bombs without getting pummeled on the way in.

The U.S. is out of candidates to try it for the time being. The top three American heavyweights according to BoxRec are Tony Thompson and Chambers, both of whom Klitschko has already knocked out, and Chris Arreola. The Nightmare had little success against big brother Vitali, so no one is clamoring to see him get a shot at Wladimir.

David Haye certainly seems like he would have a puncher's chance with his heavy hands. But even at 6-foot-3 he's looking up at Dr. Steelhammer, and his defense (or lack thereof) suggests he'd be just as likely to end up on the canvas as Wlad even if he could force the issue.

Tomasz Adamek also has power and the right mindset to bring the fight to Klitschko, but he's even smaller than Haye. Let's see how he does against Arreola before dubbing him the Wlad-killer.

If there's a guy who's at least 6-foot-5 with long arms, a solid technical background and knockout power, please make yourself known. Otherwise, it's starting to look like Klitschko will continue his reign atop the heavyweight division simply because there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Posted by The Franchise


Wladimir Klitschko vs. Eddie Chambers: Round By Round

The ESPIRIT arena in Dusseldorf, Germany is the site for tonight's heavyweight title fight between champion Wladimir Klitschko and challenger Eddie Chambers. A crowd of roughly 51,000 fans is on hand.

"Fast" Eddie Chambers hears some jeers from the fans before his introduction video. He looks fairly calm as he steps in the ring accompanied by a short burst of fireworks.

As you may expect, Klitschko's entrance is a bit more elaborate in front of the adoring Germans. A video is shown of a bunch of his knockouts, and he gets the full light show and pyrotechnics treatment.

Klitschko is 53-3 with 47 knockout victories. His last loss came nearly six years ago when he was KO'ed by Lamon Brewster.

Chambers is 35-1 with 18 KOs. He has won his last five bouts, though the most recent three were all by decision.

The national anthems for both the United States and the Ukraine are played. Michael Buffer does the introductions, and we are set to go a scheduled 12 rounds for Klitschko's IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.

Round One

Chambers bounces on his feet as he circles. Klitschko tries to measure some jabs. Eddie feints but doesn't throw. Wlad connects with a jab through the guard. Klitschko bounces a left hook off Chambers' forearms. Eddie throws a right hand and some of his own jabs. Klitschko comes in and is literally picked up by Chambers. Klitschko connects with a right that is answered in kind by Chambers. Left hook by Eddie right before the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Two

Eddie tries to swat Wlad's lead hand away so he can jab. Klitschko marches forward and works on penetrating Chambers' guard. The fighters tie up, and Chambers body slams Klitschko to the mat. Eddie sneaks a right hand over the top. He uses some quick taps to the body to stay busy. Chambers throws a right and quickly clinches. Klitschko scores with a big right hand that has Chambers wobbly. Another one lands along the ropes. Eddie has to dig in to make it out of the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Three

We'll see if Chambers was able to shake off that shot. Klitschko pumps his jab to create openings for his straight right. Eddie isn't throwing much right now. The fans chant to try to get Klitschko going. Chambers ducks a jab and lands a left to the body. A counter right connects as well. There's more wrestling with 10 seconds to go. More jabs by Wlad, probably enough to win him the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Four

Klitschko finds the mark early with a right hand, forcing Chambers to try to retaliate. Wlad simply peppers him with jabs to back him off. Eddie has a brief moment with his own right hands. Klitschko throws more jabs with a wicked right behind it. Chambers' corner is begging for more head movement. Eddie attempts some roughhousing on the inside, but he doesn't seem to have many answers right now.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Five

The fighters trade jabs with Klitschko coming forward. Chambers works on the inside before the ref steps in. Klitschko uses a left hook to set up a straight right. Not much happening in the middle of this frame. Chambers blocks several shots but is not throwing back. He tries a jumping right hand to get something started. Both men swing and miss wildly in the closing seconds.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Six

Chambers' trainer did his best to try to motivate his fighter to take more chances/ Like so many before him, he can't figure out a way inside Klitschko's jab without getting nailed with a right. Wlad marches forward with consistent jabs, answered only intermittently by Chambers' own. Klitschko tries to mix in a left hook from time to time. Klitschko lands a right with about 10 seconds left.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Seven

It's tough to imagine Chambers has won even one round on any of the official cards. He's been retreating even when he's been landing punches. The fans clap to try to inspire a flurry from Klitschko. He obliges with three straight rights that more or less land clean. Eddie is covering up but he can't block everything. Chambers' only hope would seem to be one huge punch, but he's not the right boxer to pull that tactic off.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Eight

Even Klitschko's jabs have plenty of force behind them. Chambers slips a left hook and comes in without success. A left-right combination thuds home for the champ. Wlad works his left hook and Eddie tries to fire back. The announcer wonders if the cumulative effect of even the blocked punches are wearing Chambers out. It's a fair question at this point.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round Nine

Klitschko comes out aggressively to start the round. Emanuel Steward told him Chambers was getting tired. Eddie smacks Wlad with a counter right and ties up. He's leaping in and clinching a lot. Klitschko measures two right hands and has left hooks coming behind them. Chambers throws a series of mostly harmless left hands. Klitschko is patiently waiting for one big shot.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 10

Eddie has a problem with his right glove, and it needs to be changed before the round can get underway. The delay lasts roughly four minutes, which doesn't make the fans too pleased. Chambers did get a nice rest out of it, and he's bouncing around. Klitschko mostly ignores him and goes back to work. He lands a right as the crowd urges him on. Chambers has to scurry out of the way as Wlad moves in. Wlad teases a big uppercut and keeps stalking. Nothing too exciting in the final minute.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 11

It's nice to hear Steward asking for more punches even though his man is winning easily. Will Klitschko listen? Chambers is showing some slick defense, for what it's worth at this point. Klitschko attempts to get untracked but is having some trouble. He reaches with two right hands, forcing Chambers back into the corner. A quick exchange breaks out, but this round has been largely short on entertainment value.

Franchise: 10-9 Klitschko

Round 12

Emanuel was very blunt, telling Wlad he doesn't need another decision win. Eddie has three more minutes to survive. Klitschko uses a left hook and a right to try to trap Chambers along the ropes. Neither man looks particularly gassed. A right hand knocks Chambers back and Wlad at least looks to seal the deal. He just misses a big right hand. Eddie ducks and grabs but gets thumped by a left hook. The fans chant with 30 seconds to go. A left hand crumples Chambers with about 12 seconds remaining, and Chambers is face down and not getting up. It took forever, but that was the dramatic finish the fans wanted.

The winner by KO at 2:55 of Round 12... and still IBF and WBO heavyweight titleholder... "Dr. Steelhammer" Wladimir Klitschko.

Klitschko acknowledges the huge crowd by climbing all four corners of the ring to salute the fans. Wlad is interviewed in German first, thanking Dusseldorf for its support.

The champ says he knew it would be a tough fight and a awkward one in which to look good.

Wladimir Klitschko-Eddie Chambers Undercard Live Blog

The Klitschko-Chambers undercard is underway from the ESPIRIT arena in Dusseldorf, Germany. Action has already commenced between Alexander Ustinov and Ed Mahone, with Ustinov comfortably winning the first three rounds.

About 30 seconds into Round 4, Mahone's corner throws in the towel. Nice catch by the referee who literally catches the towel coming from his left. Pretty boring stuff as Ustinov wins by TKO, taking his record to 20-0 with 16 KOs.

The next opponent for Vitali Klitschko, Albert Sosnowski, enters the ring. He talks about looking forward to beating Vitali on May 29 and having his next fight against Wladimir.

The announcer discusses how several Americans have claimed to have had a plan for coming to Germany and beating Wladimir but always find the reality tougher than the theoretical exercise. Some video is shown of Chambers doing his final training, and the announcer says he feels Eddie was a bit intimidated even at the weigh-in.

Weigh-in footage is shown of Travis Walker and Johnathon Banks. We're killing time until those two men hit the ring.

Apparently there are going to be fireworks during the ring walks for Klitschko and Chambers. European sites always pull out all the stops for big boxing cards, which is fun to see.

It's time for the last undercard fight as Travis Walker and Johnathon Banks make their way to the ring. Walker is from Florida but fights out of Houston and is 34-3. He has some power but got smoked by Chris Arreola in late 2008 after some moments in the early going.

Banks is 23-1, his lone loss coming to Tomasz Adamek in February 2009.

Walker is stalking Banks, trying to use his jab to set up something big. Banks has clearly superior footwork and is tricky to track down. Not too much of real consequence lands for either man in the first two rounds.

The announcer is correct in saying these rounds wouldn't be fun to score. Walker is the aggressor, but Banks' defense is blunting most of his attacks. Banks begins landing some nice left hand counters and is just missing with some right hands. Walker is bleeding just a tad from his nose as Round 4 comes to a close.

The fans are beginning to whistle to express their displeasure with the lack of sustained action. In the middle of Round 6, Banks connects with a right hand that has hm so off balance that he slips down, but Walker goes down from the force of the punch. Walker gets up but is clearly out on his feet, and the fight is over.

Banks wins by TKO in Round 6. Not bad when you can get the stoppage by landing just one serious punch.

Plenty of time until the main event, so there's more undercard action in the meantime. Next up is a heavyweight title between 31-14 Michael Sprott, who has fought some pretty good competition over the years, and 7-13 Werner Kreiskott.

Sprott ends this one early, knocking Kreiskott silly less than a minute into the action. Sprott wins by first round TKO.

We're going to taped action from the undercard with Domonique Dolton facing Omar Siala. Dolton is just 20 years old and hails from Detroit, and he is 5-0 in his young career.

Dolton looks pretty good in the opening round. His opponent is 11-10, for what it's worth.

Domonique has quick hands and isn't afraid to let them go in combination, though he isn't facing much return fire from Siala. His movement is also good considering his youth.

Siala gets hurt from a series of body shots late in the third, and the referee decides he's seen enough. Dolton wins by TKO.

More heavyweight action to fill the remaining time with Nenad Boravcanin taking on a late replacement, Johnathon Pasi. Boravcanin is 24-0 with 17 KOs.

Pasi is fairly game but Boravcanin is clearly out of his league. Boravcanin wins by stoppage in Round 2.

The announcer tells us we are about 10 minutes away from the main event ring walks. More weigh-in footage is shown. I'm signing off on this post and getting ready for the main event post.

Posted by The Franchise

Wladimir Klitschko-Eddie Chambers Live Round By Round Updates Today

For anyone wondering if it was possible for you to view today's heavyweight title match between Wladimir Klitschko and Eddie Chambers, the answer is... yes you can. Just head to www.klitschko.com and indicate your willingness to part with $14.95 of your hard-earned money.

If that option isn't available to you, allow us to present another. Bookmark our home page and return here later today. Starting at around 4 pm Eastern, I'll be doing a live blog of undercard action. And shortly after 6 pm Eastern, I'll have a live round by round post of the showdown that may very well draw a crowd of 51,000-plus fans.

And yes, I'm well aware there is a basketball tournament going on in the U.S. that is taking up a lot of your time and attention. Surely you can set aside just a little time for the sweet science this afternoon, right?

Thought so. See you later today.

Posted by The Franchise

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Eddie Chambers: Predictions

The Franchise says...

Man, I really want to see Eddie Chambers win a world title. He was born in Pittsburgh and fights out of Philly, and it's hard to get any closer to the BoxingWatchers' hearts than that (unless he was also part Filipino, perhaps!).

That said, I just can't pick him to beat Wladimir Klitschko. I agree with the consensus opinion of many other observers, which is that Chambers can really box for a big guy... but maybe not quite as well as Klitschko.

In power it's no contest, with Eddie knocking out about 50 percent of his opponents and Wlad close to 84 percent. Then there's the size difference between the two men, which was very apparent at yesterday's weigh-in.

Freddie Roach is fond of saying that it's skill and not size that wins fights, but with all other things being equal - and that's not the case here, but humor me - it sure helps the bigger guy. If Chambers can't out-point Klitschko from the outside, and he dare not fight him toe-to-toe, then... what exactly?

I feel pretty confident Chambers will give a game effort, and he may give Wlad a tougher time in the early going than we have grown accustomed to seeing over the last few years. But all of the champ's advantages will show the longer the fight goes, and that's bad news for Fast Eddie.

Since I can't logically figure out a way for Chambers to win, I have no choice but to pick Klitschko by either unanimous decision or very late (11th or 12th round) TKO.

Uatu says...
I am not picking against Wlad until at least 2013.
Klitschko by unanimous decision.

Posted by The Franchise


Wladimir Klitschko Vs. Vitali Klitschko... On Your Cell Phone

I'm going to do a more serious Wladimir Klitschko-related post later today, seeing as he's defending his heavyweight titles against Eddie Chambers tomorrow and everything. But this was just too good to pass up...

The Klitschko brothers may not be huge stars in the U.S. like they are in Europe - and maybe there are some good reasons for that - but they do have something no other boxer has: their own mobile phone game.

That's right, for just $5.99 (and if you have one of the supported phones) you can bring Klitschko Boxing - The Official Mobile Game, right to your phone. Play as either one of the brothers and dominate the heavyweight division with your own thumbs!

Even better, and this is a direct quote: "Attention: This is the only place where you can compete as Klitschko vs. Klitschko!"

It also has a career mode and some pretty attractive virtual ring girls, by the looks of it. Plus virtual Wladimir versus virtual Vitali is apparently okay with the Official Mother of the Klitschkos, so how can you pass it up?

Posted by The Franchise


March 26 Friday Night Fights Card Featuring Cunningham, Spinks Now Off

Unfortunately for boxing fans, 2010 is turning into the year of the postponement.

One of the better Friday Night Fights cards in recent memory was slated for March 26, with Steve Cunningham battling Matt Godfrey for the vacant IBF cruiserweight belt and Cory Spinks taking on Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage for Spinks' IBF junior middleweight strap underneath. Sadly, that card is now off, at least for the time being.

The culprit? It looks like Don King, as the AP piece says he could not agree on terms with ESPN. Not that it's a big shock, frankly, as King seems to be unable or unwilling to comprehend that he's not the promotional force he once was.

It doesn't appear that there will be any FNF broadcast on that date now, but the loss of this particular one stings for boxing fans. It's not often one can see even one title fight on basic cable these days, much less two.

Spinks also joins a growing list of boxers who have had fights postponed multiple times this year. Spinks-Bundrage was originally slated to be on March 6 on HBO's Devon Alexander-Juan Urango broadcast, then it was pushed back to ESPN2 on the 26th and now... maybe never, who knows?

Andre Ward is also in that club after having his fight with Allan Green moved from April 17 to 24, then postponed at least two more months due to a knee injury.

Posted by The Franchise


Knee Injury Postpones Andre Ward-Allan Green Fight, No New Date Set

I'm pretty sure the rest of the Super Six World Boxing Classic will eventually take place. But it sure is having a difficult time getting through the second batch of round robin fights.

ESPN's Dan Rafael reported today that the Andre Ward-Allan Green fight set for April 24 has been postponed due to continuing problems with Ward's right knee. No new date has been set, though the fact that Ward's doctor is recommending four to six weeks of rest suggests June may be around the right ballpark.

Read the entire piece if you want to be more worried about the health of the Super Six, with plenty of stereotypical boxing BS between promoters Lou DiBella and Dan Goossen. The other tournament fight scheduled for that same date, between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler, will still take place.

In case you're keeping score at home, this fight has already undergone a change in participants (from Jermain Taylor to Green) and two postponements, first from April 17 to 24 and now to an undetermined date. The other two bouts in this phase of the round robin have also been delayed, though hopefully we're less than two week away from seeing Andre Dirrell and Arthur Abraham do battle.

For what it's worth, I don't put too much stock in DiBella's assertion that Goossen would want Ward out of the tournament. Andre had his biggest win to date when he defeated Kessler in the first phase of the Super Six, and many observers consider him a favorite to make the finals. With every serious contender at super middleweight except for Lucian Bute also taking part, it wouldn't make much sense for Ward to quit.

That being said, the tournament is running a serious risk of losing its momentum and the goodwill it's earned with boxing fans. Let's cross our fingers and hope that all six fighters are in the ring before the end of June.

Posted by The Franchise


20/20 Hindsight: Clottey Had the Right Idea But Was the Wrong Fighter to Beat Pacquiao, Plus More Thoughts on Saturday

Can a boxer lay out the right game plan to beat a top-ranked opponent even while suffering a lopsided loss?

That's not a rhetorical question after what just went down in front of nearly 51,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday night. Joshua Clottey didn't even manage to win three total rounds on the judges' scorecards while losing to Manny Pacquiao, and yet I couldn't help but think he did the right thing, given the tools at his disposal.

Ridiculous, you say? Bear with me here a moment.

Clottey obviously wasn't going to beat Manny at his own game. You simply don't beat Pacquiao to the punch, and the Grand Master's strengths are his tight defensive shell and accurate counterpunching.

So he stayed covered up and took his shots when and where he could. Clottey's real problem is that he doesn't have strong single-shot power, which is what you'd need to successfully pull off that strategy. Add in the fact that Manny really has a pretty decent chin and Clottey basically had no chance to win.

He certainly could have taken more chances and thrown caution to the wind a bit more, especially in the later rounds when it was clear there was no way he could win on the cards. But anyone who thinks he could have won the fight simply by throwing more punches is fooling himself.

The only time Manny hit Josh flush was when Clottey was throwing his own shots. Had he gone out of the guard more, there's a decent chance he may not have made it to the final bell.

Still, I think the combination of a tight guard (which did take Pac Man about four rounds to figure out) and legitimate power exercised at the right times could be the formula to beating Pacquiao. Looking at his potential opponents, though, I'm not sure there's someone out there with the correct combination of attributes to carry it out.

Floyd Mayweather has the correct defense/countering tools, though his defense is focused on slipping and avoiding punches more than picking them off. If he fights and beats Manny, I think it will be because his physical gifts are even more impressive than Pacquiao's own.

Shane Mosley would be the boxer to most likely fight fire with fire, trying to get off first at times and engage in more trading of punches. He's certainly knowledgeable on defense but not the type to make that a focus of his game plan.

In the end, I guess I think the criticism of Clottey's effort is a bit harsh. Some people are acting like he made a choice to lose, when honestly it seemed more like a choice between fighting his own fight and losing by decision or trying to be something he wasn't and getting knocked out.

Clottey had the right idea, but he wasn't the right man to take out the current version of Pacquiao.

More closing thoughts on "The Event":

* I'll add my voice to the chorus hoping that boxing will return to Cowboys Stadium. It just looked like a phenomenal atmosphere for a big fight, even though the view from some of the seats wasn't too sweet.

* Speaking of the cheap seats, Max Kellerman went out into the standing room section to demonstrate how hard it was to see from there. He also mentioned it was $50 for parking, which is flat out robbery. Yet as the Official Stepdad/Dad of the BoxingWatchers pointed out, it cost $85 combined for tickets and parking in standing room. That's still a lot cheaper than the worst seats at the MGM Grand for PPV cards.

* The undercard was rightfully panned. It didn't help that John Duddy has decided to forsake his action-first style or that Jose Luis Castillo was obviously there just to pick up a check. It's shameful, but the economic structure of boxing doesn't make it likely that undercards will improve any time soon, no matter how much lip service promoters pay to fixing them.

* Kellerman said during the broadcast that it would be a "crime against boxing" if Antonio Margarito is allowed to fight Pacquiao this fall as a Plan B for negotiations with Mayweather falling apart again. I agree with him in theory, because Margarito doesn't deserve the spotlight and the payday. But in practice I'm warming up to this idea because I'd just like to see Manny knock him around.

* Jim Lampley had his pompoms out big time during his soon-to-be-infamous "Bang! Bang!" call describing Pacquiao's non-stop punching. Thank goodness Emanuel Steward is there to balance things out, though I felt he almost went too far giving credit to Clottey for clean punching at times when it was clear the Grand Master was still losing rounds.

* It's easy for us to call for Clottey to go out on his shield from the safety of our own couches. But when other boxers are saying he should go for it, like Andre Berto was on Twitter during the fight, I take that a little more seriously.

* I'm not sure if Lenny De Jesus was the right trainer to get Clottey prepared for Pacquiao, but at least he gave Joshua the honest picture during the fight. De Jesus correctly told his fighter he was losing every round and that he would have to go for the KO at the end to have any chance of winning.

Posted by The Franchise