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Klitschko Beats Another Challenger

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Klitschko Beats Another Challenger Empty Klitschko Beats Another Challenger

Post by hampo17 Mon 27 Apr 2015, 2:37 pm

Chris Williamson

Winning is the most important thing for any fighter, and always their first and foremost objective. To that end, Saturday night's twelve-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Bryant Jennings represented yet another successful instalment of Wladimir Klitschkos reign as Heavyweight champion of the world, as recognised by the IBF, WBO, WBA and also the Ring Magazine. However, if his objective was also to win over some new fans across the pond in the USA, for so long the hub of Heavyweight boxing and slowly stirring itself back to some kind of prominence in the division with Deontay Wilder's recent ascension to the WBC version of the title, and to convince broadcasting giants HBO that his fights must be a part of their heavy rotation reserved for star attractions, then you can only assume he's failed.

This defence at the 'Mecca of Boxing' Madison Square Garden, New York was Wladimir's first fight on US soil since February 2008 when he outscored another previously undefeated foe, Sultan Ibragimov, to unify the IBF and WBO belts in a turgid, dull twelve-rounder. While Saturday's fight wasn't quite as tepid as that one, it will have done little to remove the staining memory of the Ibragimov fight, a bout which seemed to encapsulate so many things that have been wrong in the division, as well as so many things which leave the fans frustrated when they evaluate the style, skills and ability of Wladimir.

Jennings, trim and sharp at a shade under 227 lb, showed good movement early on, setting up his stall cautiously perhaps wanting to size up whether or not the predictions of Wladimir coming out of his own blocks a little more aggressively would bear fruit or not. As it turned out, it was Jennings who let his right hand go first, going over the top with it, scuffing the champion and then falling in to a clinch. Sadly, the clinch set the tone for what we probably should have expected based on history, but what we all wished we could avoid when we watch Klitschko fight - no sooner had the challenger got close on the inside, Klitschko had already bent his knees, transferred his weight on to his front foot and pressed all 242 lb of himself down on to Jennings' back.

No uppercuts. No wriggling free to make room for short hooks. No manoeuvring to get out of the clinch and push Jennings back. For all his talents, one art form the Heavyweight champion of the world simply refuses to even try and master - or maybe he just can't - is that of inside fighting.

Wladimir has faced precious few opponents in recent years good enough in that area themselves to really make him pay for that weakness, and Jennings sure as hell wasn't the man to exploit it either. There has long been a feeling that Klitschko gets away with far too much holding and spoiling in the clinches or whenever an opponent gets in close to him, and for a while referee Michael Griffin appeared to be another such official too willing to grant leniency - indeed, in the third round he seemed to be pre-emptively shouting 'break' and instructing neither man to throw a further punch even before a clinch had been properly initiated. However, he was on the champion's case for the repeated infringement (which also included the odd headlock) by the seventh round, and finally deducted a point from the Ukrainian behemoth's total in the tenth - unfortunately, it was a round in which Jennings was unable to make any impact.

Klitschko found his range a little more in the fourth, throwing some stinging right crosses in behind his jab. Jennings surprised many with how well he stood up to these flush shots, and even brought a few exclamations from the crowd as he theatrically goaded the champion as the rounds passed. Seemingly unconcerned, Wladimir was content to pile up points with the jab, safe in the knowledge that Jennings' primarily back-foot boxing and only moderate punching power was never likely to pose any real threat to his less than fortified chin or propensity to lose his bearings and composure when faced with heavy artillery.

Jennings did succeed in getting Wladimir on the back foot for a while in the middle stages, though this was arguably as much a case of Wladimir electing to do so rather than being forced, but the challenger soon found that lunging in with overhand rights is a difficult tactic to implement with any success against a Klitschko who is on the move - while the champion was in anything but sparkling form overall, his footwork was once again very impressive, and he remained up on his toes and bouncy until the final bell. The dazzling left hook which we know he possesses - as do the likes of Tim Austin and Kubrat Pulev, was strangely absent however, and while Jennings had his moments his lack of size, physicality and power meant that he just wasn't able to make a dent in the champion.

Briedly, Wladimir threatened to top off an underwhelming performance with a show-stopping finish, as he pushed forward with more combination hitting and purpose in the twelfth, jolting Jennings with a hard right hand which made him hold, but true to form the plucky American was still standing at the final bell. Judges Max DeLuca, Steve Weisfeld and Robin Taylor tallied 118-109, 116-111 and 116-111 respectively.

In defeat Jennings performed credibly, certainly well enough to make himself a viable future opponent for Wilder in a WBC title clash. As the Ukrainian's 54 stoppage wins from 67 contests (64-3) demonstrate, going the distance against Klitschko isn't easy, and those who have done in the past such as David Haye and Alexander Povetkin have done so either with ultra-negative tactics or taking a fearsome pounding. Neither really applied here and the Philadelphia native has lost little of his lustre.

On the other hand, questions will be asked of Wladimir, despite his clear win. At 39, is age finally catching up with him? Will he ever cease to be his own worst enemy and stop (seemingly) carrying or playing it safe against men he could take out in a more thrilling style if only he chose to? And can he realistically expect to survive against a young, fresh fighter who won't be bullied and leaned on inside? As mandatory for Wladimir's WBO belt (and according to the champion, next in line) Tyson Fury is the man to put those questions to the long-reigning champion via his fists, hopefully by Autumn time.

Another clear win (and an 18th defence of his IBF belt, a 13th of his WBO one, an 11th of the Ring Magazine total and an 8th of the WBA version) for Klitschko, but I can't help but feel that this was an opportunity missed. A roundly respected champion he will always be, but his chance to convince the American market that he was indeed fit to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Ali and Frazier, who fittingly fought out the classic 1971 'Fight of the Century' at the Garden slipped away with every drab round which passed on Saturday night. And maybe, just maybe, his performance is the first indicator we've seen that those kind of chances aren't going to be coming round many more times for him, if indeed they do at all.!Klitschko-Beats-Another-Challenger/c1xmj/553e27c70cf2487416f24e68


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