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


ICUH8N said...

First time I saw Deontay Wilder, I said to myself "this guy might be the guy", referring to him being the guy to dethrone the Kitchkos and being the future of the heavyweight division. But he's no where near ready for either klitschko. He still has a long way to go, but with the right team, I think he has a lot of potential.

uatu said...

I never thought about him.

He has a long way to go, obviously, as far as pro fights go. He is only 24, so maybe he could be the guy to beat them in 5 or 6 years if they hang on too long?

He is 6'7" listed on wiki, so he has the size for sure. And he has the amateur pedigree all the media and trainers like. National Golden Gloves, US Champ, and the bronze at the Beijing games.

I think you may be on to something. He could definitely be it.