by Geoff Poundes
It’s been a heavyweight season to forget, for varying reasons – most of them involving the Klitschkos, who continue to foist their own peculiar brand of mediocrity on the division and on the sport in general.
On some level it’s difficult to be too critical of the brothers grim – it’s perhaps not their fault that for the last half-decade or so their opposition has been spectacularly poor, or that all they’ve had to do is turn up fight night in decent physical condition to walk through big-talking, big-bellied fighters who barely merit the name. It’s perhaps not their fault either, that they can fill a stadium with 50,000 baying fans without providing an ounce of entertainment in the ring – substituting that instead for a lurid light and music show so that by the time the first bell sounds the audience is fired up enough and drunk enough not to notice that what is happening between the ropes is pure crap. Isn’t that what WWE is all about?
Wladimir’s desperate showing against Jean-Marc Mormeck on March 3rd should be the last straw, when the Frenchman steadfastly refused to throw any punches, and the younger Klitschko was so frightened of those punches that he spent three rounds clinching and bearing down on a man who was 40-years-old, giving away seven inches in height and reach, hadn’t fought in a year, and was only giving away two stones to the champion because he’d fattened himself up forty-five pounds beyond his best fighting weight for the payday. Disgraceful stuff.
Brother Vitali can at least claim a certain legitimacy in that he took the full 12 rounds to turn back the challenge of British rogue Dereck Chisora a couple of weeks before. Lost amongst all the pre- and post-fight hysteria surrounding the behaviour of the British idiot, was the fact that Dereck had given Vitali a pretty decent fight, despite having lost two of three previous contests in a 16 fight career in which he’d barely risen above the level of novice. Chisora’s sole claim to fame had been a losing effort (granted, disputed by everyone who had eyes to see) against Robert Hellenius, who turned out also to be an over-hyped heavyweight babe-in-arms. That Vitali has since sought to excuse his performance by claiming injury does the WBC champion no credit.
We’re told now that Wlad will next defend his various gongs by going over old ground with 40-year-old American, Tony Thompson, who surrendered abjectly to the Ukrainian in eleven rounds back in 2008 and has apparently earned a re-run because he’s turned back half-a-dozen journeymen since. Vitali continues to duck and dive around the challenge of David Haye, who himself showed nothing in his abortive tilt at Wladimir’s titles last year to suggest he deserves another shot until he goes away and proves he’s not all talk after all.
Meanwhile, the “contender” pool remains pretty stagnant. Chris Arreola deserves some credit for taking his own Klitschko loss on the chin by re-focusing his energies and losing a bit of weight, so that some are suggesting he’s on Waldimir’s radar this year, whilst the other “hope”, Alexander Povetkin, made something of a mockery of his own chances when he laboured through an exciting but low quality fight with cruiserweight Marco Huck last month. Povetkin looked like he has his own commitment struggles to deal with, and he’s too small and too slow to expect his undoubted pedigree to be enough to topple the Ukrainian behemoths.
Beyond Haye, Povetkin and Arreola it’s difficult to see where the next challenge will come from. The European title will be contested this month by German Alexander Dimitrenko and Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, who boast 47 wins and only one loss between them, but neither look like world-beaters. Dimitrenko’s sole loss was to Eddie Chambers, who was Klitschko fodder back in 2010, and it’s difficult to see him boxing with any degree of success beyond the European level.
American Seth Mitchell is making some waves in the US, but is some way off from mounting his challenge, and it seems that the new breed who are coming through are looking to distance themselves from the Klitschkos in the hope that the brothers run out of steam – British prospects Tyson Fury and David Price have made it clear that they won’t be ready for world title challenges for another 18 months to 2 years.
And so it seems that for the foreseeable future, heavyweight boxing will need to make do with the kind of spectacle that Wladmir Klitschko and Jean-Marc Mormeck served up a couple of weeks ago – all form and no substance.
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