Monday, September 10, 2012

Reflections of... Heavyweight Domination, Iron Fists and Steel Hammers

In the midst of my college football viewing experience, I went to the premium channels this past Saturday and saw that HBO was showing the WBC World Heavyweight Championship fight (tape delay) between champion Vitali Klitschko and challenger Manuel Charr.

The fight was utter domination by the champion, and he successfully completed his ninth title defense. However, not only was this fight not live, it wasn't even advertised as being shown alongside the Ward-Dawson fight.

As for the fight itself, like I said, "Dr. Ironfist" dominated for four rounds before the doctors decided it would be too dangerous to continue the fight. Charr was angry, but honestly, no one wanted to see this fight go on.

Dan Rafael of ESPN wrote a piece about how this may be Vitali's last fight, especially if he wins re-election to the Ukrainian legislature and decides to put all his efforts into that. If he does, this really isn't much of a high note to end a long, storied career.

But at the same time, there really isn't much in his career in the way of highlights. Vitali really doesn't leave much in the way of tough fights.

And therein lies the biggest irony of the career of the elder Klitschko brother. His legacy may not be remembered as being as great as it should be - not because he wasn't good enough, but because he was too good.

Vitali is currently 45-2 with 41 wins coming via knockout, TKO or stoppage. He has never been knocked down or out, never lost a decision and has been ahead on the scorecards when the fights that he lost were stopped.

The man epitomizes domination. This is a man who beat up Lennox Lewis for six rounds and scared him into retirement (so that he wouldn't have to prove he could beat Klitschko without tearing a cut above his eye).

This is a man who on sheer size, reach, agility and power would give any boxer in heavyweight history a fair share of trouble. This is a man who has not lost in eight years, will have held a world title for four straight years next month, and really has no equal in the division besides his brother, Wladamir (who holds all the other titles in the division).

But that's the problem. The heavyweight division has been down for a while, and even when a decent prospect gets to a title shot, the fight is completely non-competitive. Vitali and Wladimir refuse to fight each other out of respect for their mother, and so Vitali receives no fight that could draw interest in him outside of Europe.

Americans will not see Vitali as one of the greatest of all time because he's never really drawn the interest of the fans here, and that's a shame. Both Klitschko brothers should be recognized for their greatness. Vitali will most likely retire a three-time champion, which is impressive regardless of how worthless the belts are.

He has been totally brilliant in his career, much like his brother, who will most likely be the second-longest reigning heavyweight champion by this time next year.

While the era may be weak, hopefully their brilliance is not lost on fight fans.

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