Posts Tagged ‘wladimir klitschko’

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We’re edging closer every day to the rematch between heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, and the man he deposed in November 2015, the then long-reigning heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko.

This fight has been a long time in the making, and then subsequent remaking, but as we edge closer there will surely be a lot of crossed fingers that the event actually takes place.

Originally scheduled for July 9th 2016, the bout had to be postponed due to Fury turning an ankle in training. The announcement of the injury came unfortunately coincided with a report that Fury had failed a drug test – prompting many to speculate that the ankle was a ruse to deflect from a pending drug ban. There were also suggestions that the ankle injury was down to Fury having been out partying following an England football match.

Such is the way with all things Tyson Fury related – there’s a lot of speculation, nay-saying, and flat out detracting from the man’s achievements that even if all reports of the ankle injury occurring during training were 100% true, many people would still be looking for an alternative.

Fury has always been a fighter that people either love or hate, there is no middle ground with him. Given his size, reported to be 6’9”, he’s not really a man who can easily hide away and do his work. Add to that his larger than life personality – whether just a public show or legitimate character trait – and his propensity for making statements based on whatever is on his mind, Fury has been a controversial figure during his career.

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Whether it’s making sexist remarks during award season, homophobic slurs in his tweets and press statements or comments about pedophilia or abortion – controversy and retaliatory attacks seem to follow the man around everywhere he goes.

All the while, Fury has done exactly what’s asked of a professional boxer in the ring – and that is win. Undefeated in 25 professional fights, and in possession of the WBA, WBO, IBO, The Ring and lineal world titles (it was also the IBF, of which he was stripped due to honoring the rematch clause with Klitschko instead of facing a mandatory) there is little else in the ring Fury could have done to silence his critics.

Those critics, who still feel the man is lucky to win every time he steps in the ring, will sadly never go away. Whether knocking the fact that he just happens to be bigger than most of his opponents, or taking aim at the fact that given his size he doesn’t put everyone to sleep with one punch, there just seems to be no way to win for the guy.

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Fury earned a shot at Klitschko by fighting his way to the top of the contenders list. He beat everyone placed in front of him, most with relative ease. Not bad for a guy who admitted that he really didn’t begin dedicating himself to his training until he’d already been a professional for a number of years. Not bad for a guy who openly admits a distaste for training and a propensity to “pork up” between fights.

In Klitschko, Fury took on a fighter who had not been defeated in over 11 years and had brushed aside the majority of his opponents with relative ease.

I can’t remember many people outside the Fury camp who favoured Fury to win in the build up to the pair’s first meeting. Such had been the manner in which Klitschko had dispatched his opponents, and the numerous question marks people raised over Fury’s ability that it seemed to be a forgone conclusion to most that the Ukrainian champion would continue his reign – and that retirement may be the only opponent capable of taking his titles away.

Instead what we saw was just the opposite. While the fight was no blockbuster, action packed bout the fans crave, it ended with a victory for the underdog. Fury had obviously studied the mechanical precision with which Klitschko fights.

Without detracting from Wlad’s fighting ability and incredible title reign, Fury saw a man who liked to fight in straight lines behind a strong jab and looked for a way to unsettle him. Using the old boxing philosophy that you can’t hit what you can’t see – Fury set about a fight of frustration for the champion.

Throughout the fight Fury moved, at times with a frenetic madness, but all the while not allowing his opponent to settle into any type of rhythm behind his strong jab. Fury’s head, shoulders, body and feet bobbed, twisted and jerked around the ring and left Klitschko’s jab flicking out at nothing but air. All the while he did just enough to win rounds – flicking out jabs here and there and some sideways shots as he twisted around the side of the champion.

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Fury planned to frustrate Klitschko and use his superior foot speed to simply stay away from danger. It worked and it gave Fury the belts he had sought and claimed were there for the taking throughout his career.

Now they’re finally ready for taking center stage again in a long awaited rematch and I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens.

Klitschko will undoubtedly have drilled to find a way to land punches should Fury decide to twitch and jerk his way around the ring again. Should Fury adopt similar tactics we could see a more sustained body attack from Klitschko in an attempt to slow down the new champion so he can begin trying to wear him down. If he is successful in this, slowing Fury’s movement would effectively allow Klitschko to begin working the jab and setting the pace of the fight.

The big question comes about how Fury will approach the fight. Will he go with similar tactics to the first fight, or will he go looking for a fight to show everyone that he can beat Klitschko based on his boxing skills?

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Fury took a good shot from Klitschko in the closing rounds of the last fight and was not troubled by the shot. Given that he’s felt his foes power before and feels confident he can take more risks, there is a chance we will see a more open and fighting Tyson Fury in this bout.

The fans will surely be looking for a fight with more action than their first meeting. While many can surely appreciate Fury’s reasons for playing it safe last time around given that he was fighting on the champion’s home turf, there was definitely an air of frustration that they didn’t see any significant shots being thrown or landed until the fight was coming to its conclusion.

With home field advantage this time around, the belts already around his waist and the fact that in the past Fury has seemed to relish getting into a good old scrap, I think we may see a more open fight this time with both fighters looking to impose their will and land some heavy shots.

Neither man will be hoping for a scorecard decision in this fight, nor may it come down to who can take the other’s punches the best. There have been questions raised about Fury’s chin after he was put on the canvas by Steve Cunningham – although if you watch that fight back, Fury was more interested in mugging for the crowd than he was in fighting and he got caught by a consummate professional.

Then there is Klitschko, who has been stopped 3 times in his career as well as being put on his seat 3 times in his first fight with Samuel Peter.

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So, while there have been question marks raised about Fury’s chin in spite of the fact he’s never been stopped, or appeared close to being stopped, his upcoming opponent has a history of being stopped in fights where he opened up and attacked. So much so that it took the late, great, Emanuel Steward coming into Klitschko’s corner and shoring up his defense to allow him to embark on his long championship reign.

Since Steward’s death, Klitschko has primarily adopted the same style laid out for him by his old trainer. However, in arguably Klitschko’s best performance in several years he did adopt a more aggressive approach in his fight with Kubrat Pulev – putting Pulev down 3 times before ending the fight in the 5th round with a huge left hook.

Challenger Bulgarian heavyweight boxer Pulev lies in the ring after being knocked down by Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight boxing world champion Klitschko after their title fight in Hamburg

In the build up to the fight Pulev talked a lot about not letting Klitschko win ugly by tying him up constantly as he did with Alexander Povetkin, then also missed one of the pressers. Did he anger Klitschko to the point that the champion decided to open up and unload on him? If so, will avenging his loss to Fury bring a more aggressive Klitschko out from the opening bell?

A more aggressive Klitschko means a more aggressive Fury and with that combination we are all winners.

 

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Tyson Fury has made no secret of his desire to face the dominant heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko. For years he’s spoken of his desire to face Klitschko before the Ukrainian fighter retires. To date, however, nothing has happened.

Fury is a fighter who splits opinion. His detractors are plentiful and nothing the man does will ever placate them, as is usually the case in boxing. When anyone brings up Fury as a potential opponent for Klitschko the first comment of many is usually referencing how Fury was put on his seat by Steve Cunningham. Not taking anything away from Cunningham, but those against Fury love to point out that Cunningham spent the bulk of his career as a cruiser weight, and has never been a knockout artist. Do these comments hold validity, or is it simply people overlooking the fact that in boxing (especially the heavyweight division) one well timed punch can change an evening?

Next up for Fury is his demeanor. He is brashy. He has a confidence that crosses all the way into arrogance. He doesn’t seem to care who he angers, he will still look to say his piece. Some fans love this side of Fury and see ths as a character he is portraying to sell his brand, which is himself. Others feel he is disrespectful to the sport and take his comments as literal.

The there are those who think Fury possesses the skills necessary to challenge the champion and push him all the way. Fury has height. He has reach. He has power. He has technique. He has desire and he has heart. Fury seemingly has all the tools that have been lacking in Klitschko opponents of recent years. When Klitschko has faced a boxer with worrisome power his opponent has usually been lumbering, limited in skills or both. When he’s faced an opponent with height it’s more often than not been a guy of limited mobility and slow hands. When he’s taken on a fighter with good movement and hand speed it’s often a guy who is so much smaller than him that they cannot get inside Klitschko’s thunderous jab to be any bother to him.

Not that any of this is Klitschko’s fault. The man has taken on everyone who has been placed in front of him and beaten every style for years. Fury may be no different in that respect, but at least he brings the intrigue level up.

When asking if the boxing world is ready for this fight I guess I should have been more direct. Rather than whether the boxing world is ready for a bout between these two giants, what I’m really wondering is whether the boxing world is ready for Tyson Fury as a world champion. The man already splits opinion. He already ruffles feathers. How many more will he ruffle if the championship belt on fastened around his waist?

Fury reiterated his desire to face Klitschko once more over the weekend. After dispatching of Christian Hammer with relative ease on Saturday, and after performing a victory song in ring, Fury took to the mic to call for a bout with Klitschko.

For his part, Klitschko is already scheduled to face American challenger Bryant Jennings next month. Should he come through that unscathed it could be time for him to negotiate a bout with Fury for later this year. Fury has worked himself into position as a mandatory challenger for Klitschko, and the champ has shown over the years that he will take on every mandatory challenge thrown his way.

A bout with Fury will undoubtedly bring a high level of entertainment. Fury has stoked the fires with banter for a couple of years now, and having stepped up his own game with a string of improved performances, Fury seems to be fulfilling some of the potential many have seen in him. Fury will do all the talking needed for this bout, and then some. He will also not shy away from trying to back up his talk inside the ring. As those who have followed Fury’s career to date have seen, there’s nothing the big man loves more than a good scrap.

Only a few things could stand in the way of a Klitschko-Fury showdown. An upset loss to Jennings. An untimely retirement from the new dad (that’s Klitschko). A desire to regain the belt his brother used to hold under the Klitschko banner by taking oh Deontay Wilder in a unification bout.

I, for one, hope none of those things happen. Fury vs Klitschko is a bout boxing needs to see. It will bring attention back to the heavyweight division. It will pit Klitschko against an opponent who will push for him to come out of his comfort zone. It will introduce the world to Tyson Fury the fighter and help them look past Tyson Fury the character looking to sell a fight.

Let’s help make this fight a reality.

The story below is my original work published through bleacherreport.com

Wladimir Klitschko fought his first professional boxing match in over eight years without his hall of fame trainer, the late Emanuel Steward, when he defeated Poland’s Mariusz Wach on Saturday. While the outcome of the fight was almost a foregone conclusion to many, how Klitschko would perform without Steward interested me. Enter Johnathon Banks.

Banks himself is a professional boxer, fighting in the heavyweight division, who was trained by Steward. Following Steward’s passing, Banks stepped into his old mentor’s shoes on Klitshcko’s behalf in taking on the role of trainer, all this while preparing for his own fight on November 17th against undefeated heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell.

I was interested to see if Banks was merely “filling a role” for Klitschko’s fight with Wach, or if he was actually going to be a hands on trainer during the bout.

When a Klitschko brother fights, the other brother is usually close at hand and often performing a job in the corner. Knowing this, I wondered if Vitali would take the role of the main communicator between rounds while Banks was just an additional pair of eyes.

I watched the bout live through EpixHD, through which the lack of commercials between rounds allowed me to see the dynamics in the corner. I was happy to see that the man who had stepped up and assumed the trainer role for the fight was allowed to do just that–train.

Vitali stayed mostly as a background figure, assisting where needed and holding the bucket. Banks broke down the round as he saw it, and gave a great breakdown of how the fight was going and what he wanted to see moving forward. Vitali occasionally echoed Banks’ instructions, always in English, and both brothers appeared to respect what Banks was saying.

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Wladimir followed the rookie trainer’s instructions well. If Banks said to jab more, Wladimir jabbed more. When Banks wanted him to bring the right hand into play more frequently to follow the jab, there were more right hands.

Banks had obviously spent his time under Steward paying attention to more than just the instruction he was being given for his own fights. He astutely instructed Wladimir on the best approach round-to-round and when it was time to start mixing things up in order to keep Wach on his toes.

Even more impressive was the manner in which Banks was able to keep the corner calm at the end of Round 5, a round that ended with Wach catching Klitschko with a strong right hand and then pushing forward and looking to do more damage.

In the corner, Banks kept things calm, talking to Wladimir about staying on task, keeping the jab going and keeping the pace under his control. For a novice trainer to keep everyone—including himself—grounded and level headed after seeing his fighter eat a big right hand was a good thing to see.

To all appearances, it seems as though Klitschko intends to keep Banks on full-time and after working well together in the build up to Saturday’s bout—and again during the fight—it seems to me like a wise choice.

Another boxing story. Again an original piece by me and once again published through bleacherreport.com

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Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Let’s face facts first, I don’t think there is a single boxing fan who didn’t predict a dominant victory tonight from Wladimir Klitschko over the previously undefeated Mariusz Wach.

However, there were a couple of unexpected events in this bout. First, there was the chin displayed by Wach, who weathered a 12-round beating at the hands of Klitschko and didn’t even look close to landing on the seat of his pants.

Second, there was the fight Klitschko fought. We’ve all gotten used to the safely-does-it approach we’ve seen from Klitschko over the last few years, but tonight, he attacked throughout and entertained.

Did the level of opponent allow Klitschko to deliver a different type of fight as normal? Probably. However, I enjoyed the display and was surprised that Wach stayed on his feet.

From the opening bell, Klitschko came forward. His jab, as usual, was dominant throughout the bout as he landed it seemingly at will. What was different was the come-forward manner Klitscko displayed, the fact that he started letting his right hand go earlier than usual and the three- and four-punch combinations he threw throughout the bout.

Klitschko peppered his opponent with his usually jab-straight combination throughout the first four rounds while adding frequent left hooks, some as leadoff hooks and some at the end of the one-two that were landing so well.

Wach, to his credit, weathered everything Klitschko had to throw, and until the very end of the fifth round, didn’t seemed phased. At the end of Round 5, Klitschko caught Wach with a big right hand that visibly shook his opponent, who seemed relieved when the bell sounded.

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The big round of the bout came in Round 8 as Klitschko obviously upped the pace in search of a knockout. Leading in with flurries of punches we are not accustomed to seeing Klitschko throw, he took the fight to Wach to the glee of the fans.

Still, Wach stayed on his feet. There were moments in the eighth in which some refs would have stopped the fight, but it was allowed to continue—and rightly so. Wach ate a lot of punches but rarely looked stunned or in serious trouble, managingd to fire back with occasional shots.

Wach did have his moment in an otherwise one-sided fight. At the end of Round 6, Wach connected with a good right hand that backed Klitschko onto the ropes. For the final 30 seconds of the round, Wach attacked. It was a sight the crowd had not seen before in the bout and one they would not see again.

As Wach unloaded, Klitschko ducked, bobbed and kept his gloves in front of his face. The first right hand aside, nothing in Wach’s attack landed cleanly, and the door was closed on his chance in the fight as quickly as it opened.

The remainder of the bout continued with Klitschko attacking, landing jabs, crosses and hooks, and Wach, somehow, managing to stay on his feet. The judges’ decision was just a formality as Klitschko, once again, dominated his opponent to successfully defend his heavyweight titles.

I am sure we will here the usual complaints about the level of competition Wladimir is facing, and we will read articles about how overrated he is. I, however, enjoy watching Klitschko fight and was thrilled to see an aggressive, come-forward Klitschko provide an entertaining fight in honor of his late trainer Emanuel Steward.