Weekend Review: Klitschko’s big night
Wladimir Klitschko rendered Eddie Chambers helpless on Saturday in D├╝sseldorf, Germany. Photo / Marianne M├╝ller
Wladimir Klitschko: A reader emailed me objecting to any praise of Klitschko after his destruction of Eddie Chambers on Saturday in Germany, saying that his success is more a product of poor competition than Klitschko’s ability. I say that both are significant factors. No heavyweight outside his own family can compete with the giant from Ukraine. This might be the shallowest era ever among heavyweights, which means that Klitschko might never be seriously challenged. At the same time, I see a fighter with the size, ability and conditioning to compete with the better big men in history. The same goes for Vitali Klitschko. I think our best glimpse of that were the few rounds in which Vitali fought on even terms Lennox Lewis, a Hall of Famer. So, yes, a lack of competition will hurt the Klitschkos’ legacy. At the same time, we have to give them some credit.
Eddie Chambers: The confident Philadelphian talked about becoming one of the best heavyweights of his era before he met Wladimir Klitschko. Now, he’s just another name on Klitschko’s growing list of battered victims. Chambers probably was as prepared as he could’ve been for the giant Ukrainian. However, like so many before him, he didn’t have the tools to cope with the champion’s size and ability. Chambers arguably remains the best American heavyweight and one of the better big men in boxing. That doesn’t mean much against either of the Klitschko brothers, though; they’re in a league of their own. Chambers’ best hope of winning a title might come after one or both Klitschkos retire.
Klitschko’s lack of a killer instinct: The fight on Saturday was effectively over no later than the eighth or ninth round. Chambers was beaten physically and emotionally; he had almost nothing left but a survivor's instinct. All Klitschko had to do was pick up his punch count a bit to knock out his foe and go home with another spectacular victory. He didn’t do it, at least not until it was almost too late. And he probably wouldn’t have done it at all had trainer Emanuel Steward not screamed at him to finish the job. Klitschko might say a victory is a victory, whether by decision or knockout. Those who watched the fight saw ecstatic he and the crowd were when he flattened Chambers, though. Isn’t that what he wants every time out?
Klitschko’s corner: Steward got in the big man’s face toward of the end of fight and insisted he work harder to knock his helpless opponent. Klitschko didn’t seem to like it. He snapped back: “Relax Emanuel. I’ll try, I’ll try.” I hope Klitschko realizes that Steward was looking out for him. The champion would’ve been criticized in some circles for another boring victory had Chambers survived the full 12 rounds, much as he was after his painfully boring victory over Sultan Ibragimov in 2008. Steward even mentioned Ibragimov between the 10th and 11th rounds. The fact Klitschko was able to score a knockout – however late – gave the fans something to remember. Klitschko is a more-valuable and more-compelling commodity as a result. That’s all Steward had in mind.
Klitschko’s athleticism: I remember hearing Steward telling Klitschko in the corner that he was faster than Chambers, whose nickname is “Fast Eddie.” And I thought: “He’s right.” Klitschko seemed to be at least as quick as the athletic smaller man. I also noticed something else. When Chambers began to throw a punch, Klitschko – all 6-foot-6¾ of him – was able to move his feet quickly to get out of harm’s way many times. The man is far more athletic than some people realize, which is a scary thought. Huge, strong, powerful, well-conditioned, well-schooled, experienced ÔÇª AND athletic? It’s no wonder he has no peers outside his brother.
Khan-Malignaggi: I think some people see the Amir Khan-Paulie Malignaggi fight on May 15 as an easy fight for Khan. They’re mistaken. Malignaggi probably won’t test Khan’s still-questionable chin, one reason he was selected as Khan’s opponent. However, the brash New Yorker could give Khan all kinds of problems with his boxing ability and experience. The Malignaggi who fights Khan won’t be the Malignaggi who was stopped by Ricky Hatton in 2008, when trainer Buddy McGirt turned him into more of a flat-footed fighter. Now, Malignaggi is back to using his quick feet to move in and out of punching range. He looked like a new fighter in his second meeting with Juan Diaz, which he won by decision. I think Khan will beat Malignaggi but I won't be shocked if he doesn't.
Mayweather-Mosley drug testing: I really don’t care how we ended up with Olympic-style drug testing for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley fight on May 1. I’m just glad we did. The Nevada State Athletic Commission, the best in the nation, tests only urine before and immediately after the fight. The United States Anti-Doping Agency tests both urine and blood and does random testing at any time leading up the fight. Logic tells me that the latter is more effective both as a deterrent and for detecting illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I hope Olympic-style drug testing becomes the standard in boxing one day.
Junior welterweight: The talent in the 140-pound division is ridiculously deep. A partial list: Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, Amir Khan, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz and Juan Urango. And that doesn’t include Manny Pacquiao, who fights at 147 but could easily go back down to 140 if he wanted to. It also doesn’t include Edwin Valero and Juan Manuel Marquez, who might find junior welterweight to their ideal weight class. The possibilities seem endless. How does Pacquiao vs. Valero sound? Or Alexander vs. Bradley? Or Khan vs. Ortiz? Or how about that 140-pound tournament that has been discussed? Bring it on. We can’t wait.
WORST IDEA (MAYBE OF ALL TIME)
Morales-Pacquiao IV: Erik Morales apparently is gunning for a fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao, assuming he beats Jose Alfaro in his comeback fight on March 27 in Monterrey, Mexico. Can you imagine? That would be an execution, not a fight. Morales couldn’t go three rounds with Pacquiao in their last meeting, which was four years ago. No one in their right mind would expect the once-great fighter from Mexico to last even that long in 2010. And no reputable handler – promoter, manager or trainer – would let Morales get anywhere near Pacquiao. There are plenty of Jose Alfaros out there to keep Morales busy if he wants to continue fighting.
Manny Pacquiao, speaking to reporters Monday in the Phillipines: “I came this far in my boxing career without (Floyd) Mayweather, so I see no need to call him out. He needs me to bolster his career. I am open to him fighting me anytime he wants to.” Pacquiao was greeted by thousands of cheering fans upon his return to the Philippines after beating Joshua Clottey on March 13, according to the Associated Press. He will now begin campaigning for a seat in the House of Representatives in the national elections on May 10.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]