“The Standing Eight Count”
Is It Time To Give Vitali Klitschko His Just Due?


By Dave Wilcox

Photo: Naoki Fukada
 

 

As I sat ringside at Staples Center last Saturday, something strange happened to me. I was watching WBC Heavyweight Champion, Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko dismantle the limited, but game Chris Arreola, and my usual lack of interest in the Ukraine giant suddenly started shifting to admiration. I know, I know, Chris Arreola is fat, unmotivated, and green and he could hardly land a punch against the champ. A victory against Arreola in itself doesn’t get you a spot in the Hall of Fame, but a body of work does.

 

For years I have stated my dislike for the “boring” Dr. Ironfist. “He stands to straight up”, “He fights like a damn robot” were just a few comments from my pie hole. All of that may still be true, but darn it, I’m starting to appreciate it a little more. Call it maturity, call it an awakening, or if you want, call it ignorance on my part. Whatever it’s called, I’m all in. I have said “uncle” as it relates to Klitschko’s ability as not only a Heavyweight, but a legitimate Heavyweight Champion of the World. As an admitted Heavyweight Division junkie, it is actually a relief for me to say that out loud.

 

After all, the heavyweights are what got me hooked on Boxing. From Rocky Balboa to Larry Holmes to Lennox Lewis, I flat out love watching the big boys throw hands. Over the past five years or so, we have suffered through the likes of Sultan Ibragamov, Ruslan Chagaev and my all time Heavyweight whipping boy, John “The Nyquil Man” Ruiz. Vitali’s younger brother, Wladimir has also come under much scrutiny over the years due to a chin that at times has seemed to be shall we say, less than sturdy.

 

For the first time in years, I’m actually contemplating a current heavyweight champion and how he might do against past champions. That in itself is somewhat refreshing to me. How would Vitali do against one of the better former champs?

 

At the risk of upsetting the X-Box generation, what if Vitali Klitschko fought “Iron” Mike Tyson?

 

It is sacrilege in many circles to even consider that Klitschko could give the artist formally known as “Baddest Man on the Planet” a fight. Surely Vitali would crumble under the fierce pressure of a “prime” Mike Tyson. Tyson had guys beat before the even stepped in the ring, right? Guys like Trevor Berbick, Pinklon Thomas and the All-Time great light heavyweight Champion Michael Spinks froze under the glare of Tyson’s mystique. Well those guys sure did, but what about tall heavyweights like Tony Tucker, Bonecrusher Smith and Razor Ruddock?

 

In his pre title days, Iron Mike struggled with cagey veterans James “Quick” Tillis and Mitch “Blood” Green, both of whom were taller Heavyweights. If guys like that could give Mike Tyson problems, is it so outlandish to think Vitali could do some damage?

 

If a prime Mike Tyson fought Vitali Klitschko, it is my opinion that the educated Ukraine would not have the mental make-up to be “beat before he stepped into the ring.” He is much too cerebral for that. He is also 6’ 7 ½” tall and weighs a solid 252 pounds.

 

How would 5’10” Mike Tyson get inside to blow away the big guy? We know that Klitschko wouldn’t just stand there and let Mike hit him. The jab and movement of Klitschko would be the key to Klitschko being able to come away with a victory. Vitali has always shown a solid chin and would not crumble the first time Tyson landed a shot. Throughout Tyson’s career, he proved how menacing he was. He also proved on more than one occasion, if you fought back, he would be the one that crumbled. Bullies don’t like people to fight back and you know Klitschko would do just that.

 

I would ask you for a minute to just step aside and think about it for a minute. Block all the ESPN Classic highlight reels that have been shoved down our throats over the past ten years showing Tyson KO bums in 30 seconds and just look at the match up itself. I was having this argument the other night with a Tyson apologist. As he told me that Tyson knocked out everyone in one round, I quickly corrected him and he wanted no part of it. I sometimes wonder if some of these Tyson fans have actually watched all Mike’s fights, outside of the knockout highlights.

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that Vitali Klitschko would indeed beat Mike Tyson if they were to fight. Outside of Tyson’s advantage in power, Vitali holds all the advantages of height, weight, speed, footwork and reach.

 

Another thing that makes me think Klitschko would win would be his dedication and respect for the game. It is my guess that Vitali Klitschko doesn’t balloon up in weight between fights. He doesn’t smoke, drink, hit parking lot attendants or crash BMW’s. He lives clean, trains clean and has respect for his sport enough to be ready to fight every time out.

 

If pressed to pick a winner, I would go with Klitschko by late round stoppage. He would be just too strong and elusive for the front running Tyson.

 

 

“Dr. Ironfist” is not your typical oversized Heavyweight like Primo Carnera or his other European counterpart, Nikolay Valuev, who uses his size and brute strength to beat you without having much ability. Klitschko is a rare breed, he is a huge guy that fights with finesse and intelligence. I know it is not pretty to the eye on occasion, but believe me, it is quite effective.

 

His jab is like a piston that not only keeps his opponent at bay, but it hurts them and stops them in their tracks. He has a sneaky little right hand and tremendous left hook.

 

Due to his awkward way of delivering shots, it often appears he lacks power. I would disagree, he certainly doesn’t have Ernie Shavers one punch power, but by way of his shear natural brute strength and volume of punches, he breaks guys down. Think about it, chasing a 6’ 7” guy around a ring for an hour while he hits you with about 800 solid punches is a tough night’s work.

 

Since we are speaking of chasing a guy around the ring. I have read other writers and fans comment on Vitali and his alleged “running and holding” and how he is somehow less of a man because he wouldn’t stand and fight with Chris Arreola last Saturday. That type of thinking is quite foreign to me. Last I heard, this is Boxing, the art of hitting without being hit. If you hadn’t watched the fight, and read some of the stuff coming out of some people’s mouth, you would have thought Vitali showed up in running spikes expecting to take on Usain Bolt.

 

Vitali Klitschko was brilliant on Saturday. He didn’t get hit much, if at all, he threw 800 punches in the fight and outclassed his opponent with ease. I will admit that Chris Arreola was thrown to the wolves a little early in this one, but that shouldn’t take away from “Dr. Ironfist” and his outstanding performance in Los Angeles.

 

For the first time in a few years, I have someone that I can call the Heavyweight Champion of the world and not feel bad about it. Too bad the guy is almost as old as me. No worries though, I’m sure little brother will pick up the slack.

 

 

 

Random Thoughts:

 

-I guess Chris Arreola has the answer to his question, “why can’t I drink a beer?” Hopefully Chris will learn a lesson and take a page from Klitschko and dedicate himself to Boxing. He is a very likeable and marketable guy. I think the Heavyweight Division would be a better place with him in it.

 

-Am I the only one sick and tired of “Captain Hook” Roy Jones, Jr.? Don’t go away mad Roy, just go away.

 

-I might also be the only one excited about Chad Dawson- Glen Johnson II. I love the old crafty veteran, Glencoffe Johnson. I also think Chad Dawson has the potential to be a great one. The competition in the light heavyweight division might be soft now, but as long as Chad keeps winning, his time will come.

 

-In this month’s Ring Magazine that hits the stands on October 6th, there will be an article on the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight and The Ring has twenty “experts” give their predictions on the bout. I use the term “expert” loosely because one of those experts is yours truly. I must have had naked pictures of someone high up the chain of command I guess. I laugh when I say Dave Wilcox and the word expert in the same sentence. I’m sure after reading my thoughts on Vital Kitschko, you might have laughed as well.

 

-Is Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame yet?

 

Keep Punching

 

 

Don’t forget to listen to The “Talking Boxing with Billy C.” Radio Show. It runs live two hours a day and five days a week. It is also available on Podcast anytime. Go to www.talkinboxing.com for all information on the show.

 

Dave Wilcox serves as the West Coast Correspondent for Billy C. and appears on the show Mondays.





 

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