Saturday, April 22, 2006

Klitschko vs Byrd: Is Wladimir Klitschko a 'Shot' Fighter?

Klitschko - Byrd: Is Wladimir Klitschko a 'Shot' Fighter?

Tonight is the rematch of the Владимир Кличко (Vladimir Klichko) and Chris Byrd fight in Mannheim, Germany. The 35-year old Byrd, IBF Heavyweight champion is hoping that this fight won't end as it did 6 years ago. On the surface, Byrd would appear clearly overmatched, as Klichko has a considerable advantage in youth and size. However, from Tim Neilson of East Side Boxing, we have an exposing assessment of Vladimir Klichko

Wladimir Klitschko, 30, will be fighting Chris Byrd this Saturday, April 22nd in Mannheim, Germany. Based on what I've been reading, many people are under the impression that Wladimir (45-3, 40 KO's) will simply be too much for Chris Byrd, who at 6'ft (sic), is a liliputian (sic) compared to compared to (sic) the 6'7" Klitschko giant.

Based on size alone, you would think that this will be an easy fight for Wladimir, right? Wrong! Although Wladimir beat Chris Byrd, winning a 12-round decision in October 14, 2000, Wladimir is nowhere near the same fighter, having been knocked out twice since then and on the verge of another knockout in his last fight against Sam Peter, in September 24, 2005.

Let's return, then, to the point in Wladimir's career where, I feel, he was ruined as a fighter and that was in his fight against Ross Purity, on December 5, 1998. Purity, a hard punching (sic) journeyman with a dismal 24-13-1 record, was punched silly by Wladimir for 10 rounds, but then the fight suddenly changed late in the 10th, when Purity landed a hard right to Wladimir's chin, hurting him badly. The round ended with Wladimir taking vicious head shots from Purity. In the following round, Purity immediatley (sic) pounced on Wladimir, who out (sic) on his feet and almost helpless. His corner, seeing that Wladimir couldn't do anything to keep Purity off of him, ran into the ring and stopped the fight before Wladimir could take any further punches to the head..

At the time of the fight, Wadimir had a record of 24-0 with 22 knockouts, which spoke volumes about his punching power. However, what the record didn't show was that Wladimir hadn't really been tested during any of those earlier fights. I mean, he had fought essentially 3rd tier fighters who were not even close to being in the same league as Wladimir. So, basically, you could call Ross Purtity (sic), a 2nd tier fighter, Wladimir's first real fight and it marks where, in my opinion, Wladimir was ruined physically and mentally as a fighter. A lot of people point towards Wladimr's (sic) fight with the South African, Corrie Sanders (38-2, 29 KO's), in March 8th, 2003, as the point where Wladimir was beaten down and destroyed as a credible fighter, however, I disagree strongly with that opinion. True, it obviously didn't help that Wladimir was brutally chopped down in two rounds by the Sanders, a knockout artist of the first order.

However, I think Wladimir had never gotten over the Puritty (sic) loss, mostly from the chin standpoint but also with his confidence, which took a major nose dive following his loss to Puritty (sic). To Wladimir's credit, he did what he could after his loss to Puritty (sic), to steer his career back on course, by winning his next sixteen fights over mostly soft opposition. However, Wladimir was carefully brought along, keeping him away from really hard punchers, other than Derrick Jefferson, who despite having tremendous punching power, had a chin much like Wladimir's.[..]

So, with a weak chin and shattered confidence, can Wladimir win against Chris Byrd on Saturday night? The answer is, No! Sorry, but Wladimir is too far gone, in my opinion, to beat someone as skilled as Chris Byrd, who has improved steadily over the past 5 years. Based on what I’ve seen of Byrd in his past several fights, I predict a stoppage win by Byrd, probably by the 8th round. It’s too bad, because Wladimir could have been a great one, maybe even a Hall of Famer, who knows?
I personally have been a fan of the Klichko brothers for quite some time. They are two well-educated, intelligent, and well-spoken boxers ... at a time when we have very few such individuals in the heavy-weight division. They also are the first wave of a new generation of former CCCP heavyweight boxers. For generations the heavyweight championship seemed like an American birthright; however, this generation of Slavic fighters has signalled the clear end of that era of dominance.

Thus far we are two rounds into the fight, and Klichko seems to be keeping Byrd at a distance and wearing him down. The pre-match statistics cited the two fighters having the same arm length, Klichko appears to be using his arms and longer body to keep Byrd on the defensive and at a distance.

As we come to the last 30 seconds of the 3rd round, Klichko has opened up on Byrd, scoring a string of solid punches. Byrd continues to try to work inside, and does so for brief periods of time, working on Klichko's ribs and body.

When Byrd comes inside, Klichko holds Byrd, forcing the referee to seperate them. He's been warned 6 times thus far (4th Round), but it is a tactical strategy to keep Byrd at a distance.

5th round and early in, Klichko DRILLS Byrd and knocks him flat. Byrd gets up, but he is on the ropes. Klichko is working to finish him off with a knockout, working him hard with 1:30 left, he is simply killing Byrd. Byrd is just hoping to finish the round, he hasn't landed a single counterpunch since the initial knock-down blow. The crowd is going crazy. We're at 50 seconds left in the round, and Byrd is a little less wobbly, he seems that he will finish the round, and he does. Jim Lampley says it might have been the most devastating round of Chris Byrd's career; that right by Klichko was perfect, caught Byrd on the chin just as Byrd was leaning forward.

6th round and Byrd is still on the defensive. Chris Byrd's wife is yelling instructions at him, telling him to move his head, as it is a constant target for Klichko. Byrd can't get inside to hurt Klichko and to tell you the truth, Klichko is looking almost untouched at the half-way point of the fight. I'm actually disappointed that Klichko wasn't more aggressive in this round, as it seems Byrd is ready to lose.

It is worth noting that Vitaly Klichko is working his brother's corner as well.

7th Round and down goes Byrd at about the 2:30 mark and Byrd's face is a bloody mess - the ref ends the fight, Byrd's eye was just destroyed, a bleeding mess after that knock-down right-handed punch in the 7th Round. Byrd was kept at a distance by Klichko's left all night long, and he unleashed hard right-handed punches judiciously to just destroy Byrd. Emmanuel Steward, Vladimir Klichko's trainer devised a great strategy against Byrd. Now Klichko is looking forward for a chance to unify the heavyweight titles

As Jim Lampley just stated, the best fighter out of eastern Europe is Vladimir Klichko. Extremely good post-match interview with Vladimir also - he is very well spoken, especially for a guy who just learned English a few years ago. Barely a scratch on him at the end of this fight. Nice of him to cite his brother also, and say that a win for one of them is a win for both of them. I remember an interview with these brothers a few years ago, where they said they would never fight each other in a match, because it would break their mother's heart. He is now two-time heavyweight champion of the world, the "Steel Hammer", Dr. Vladimir Klichko.

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