Weekend Review: Klitschko dominates … again
Shannon Briggs was on the defensive most of his fight against Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday in Hamburg, Germany. Photo / Marianne Muller
Vitali Klitschko: The giant Ukrainian continues to amaze at 39. Shannon Briggs was courageous but essentially another in a long line of unworthy challengers in a pathetically weak era of heavyweights. That’s not Klitschko’s fault, though. He did on Saturday in Hamburg, Germany, what he always does: Come ready to fight and pummel the man in front of him, this time scoring a shutout decision. His consistency (and that of his younger brother) is awe inspiring, even with the level of opposition. Of course, we’d like to see him face an opponent with the size and ability to give him a genuine challenge. In the meantime, I, for one, will continue to appreciate his dominance.
Shannon Briggs: The former title contender, now 38, has limited ability at this point of his career but he showed uncommon courage against a much-better opponent on Saturday. Briggs, clearly in good shape, absorbed dozens of punishing blows that would’ve put most big men to sleep but stayed on his feet and kept trying. He later was admitted to a hospital with broken bones under both eyes, more evidence of his bravery. The Brooklynite lost by a mile but he should be proud of his effort. He came to win even if that was never truly possible. And he became only the third opponent to go the distance with Klitschko. Afterward, Klitschko congratulated Briggs on his toughness. We should too.
Not stopping Klitschko-Briggs sooner: I’m usually the first to say that a fight should continue as long as both participants are throwing punches, which was the case more or less in the second half of the Klitschko-Briggs fight. However, this time, the challenger took an unnecessary beating that could’ve ended in disaster. Briggs bravely fought back until the final bell sounded but he had no chance of winning from about the eighth round on as he took more and more punishing shots. The referee ÔÇª Briggs’ cornermen ÔÇª the German boxing authorities ÔÇª SOMEONE! should’ve said enough is enough and saved Briggs from himself. The former contender was counting on them and they failed him miserably.
V. Klitschko-Haye: I’ve said from the beginning that David Haye, deemed by some the only hope to give the Klitschko brothers a challenge, is too small to beat either of them and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind. The only former cruiserweight with the ability to pull that off would’ve been a young Evander Holyfield, who gave Riddick Bowe hell in three fights and was competitive with Lennox Lewis. That said, Haye would have an outside chance of beating Vitali Klitschko because of his combination of height (6-foot-3; 191cm) and speed. I could see Haye giving Klitschko some problems early in the fight with his movement and quick hands. However, Klitschko is no Nikolai Valuev, the behemoth who had difficulty hitting Haye. The Ukrainian would land punches and eventually they would take a toll. Haye would go down like all the rest.
W. Klitschko-Haye: Haye would have virtually no chance of beating Wladimir Klitschko. The younger Klitschko isn’t as quick or athletic as Haye but he’s far superior to his brother in both departments. Thus, Haye would largely give up the one edge he’d have over Vitali. The Briton’s only chance against Wlad would be to hurt the bigger man with a big shot, which is possible but highly unlikely. Wlad is too big, strong and good at this stage of his career. Haye would be smart to stay clear of this brother. Another bad matchup: Wlad vs. Tomasz Adamek. The Pole is talented and one of the toughest fighters on the planet but too small and not athletic enough to hang with Wlad. Vitali? Again, too small. Adamek is tough but not tough to endure what Vitali dishes out.
BEST FIRST EFFORT
Antonio Tarver: The former light heavyweight champion did what he was expected to do on Friday in Miami, Okla., dominate journeyman Nagy Aguilera en route to a one-sided decision in his heavyweight debut. Now we want to see what he can do against a more-proficient opponent. Four come to mind: Eddie Chambers, James Toney, Tomasz Adamek and Haye, all of whom are on the small side and thus suitable for Tarver. We can’t draw any conclusions after the Aguilera fight. If Tarver were to beat one of the above or another opponent at level, though, we could say that he belongs in the division. And, at 41, he should try to lure someone of that caliber into the ring as soon as possible.
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.: The young Puerto Rican might turn out to be the most-accomplished son of a champion fighter, Wilfredo Vazquez Sr. The younger Vazquez (20-0, 17 KOs) started slowly but ultimately broke down and then knocked out former junior bantamweight titleholder Ivan Hernandez in 11th round, his second successful defense of his junior featherweight title. Cory Spinks, the son of Leon, probably is the most-accomplished son in history because he has won five major titles. Guty Espadas and his son, Guty Jr., held major titles. And Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of the Mexican legend, has found some success. Vazquez is only 26. He seems to have the ability to surpass them all.
Super Six: Andre Ward will face Sakio Bika outside the Super Six World Boxing Classic format on Nov. 27 in Oakland, Calif., which allows the tournament to move forward nicely. First, Ward, who had already qualified for the tournament semifinals, has a limited but credible opponent. Second, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch, who fight each other on Nov. 27 in a can’t-miss war, automatically go through to the semis. And, third, the winner of Allan-Green and Glen Johnson moves into the semis, which makes that matchup particularly compelling. Ideally, Abraham and Froch, as well as the Green-Johnson winner, would’ve had to do more to earn their way into the next round. But this was the best option given the number of dropouts.
Mike Tyson’s transformation: I recently told Mike Tyson that many boxing writers thought he’d be either in prison or dead by now. He said he thought the same thing. Alas, he’s alive and doing well. And, as remarkable as it might seem, he appears to be doing all he can to be a responsible citizen. We don’t know whether he’ll revert to the often-disgusting nut of the past but he says the right things and seems to be sincere. “You reach a point in your life where you find out all you believed in life was a lie and you want to start life all over again,” Tyson told Associated Press columnist Tim Dahlberg for a recent story. “I want to be a good person, not just be known as a great person.” Tyson seems to have his drug problems under control, is trim after becoming a Vegan and is busy. He recently agreed to be a boxing ambassador in China. We hope this Mike Tyson sticks around for a long time.
Mike Tyson (to The Associated Press): “I got intoxicated with myself. I didn’t know how empty I was as the champ.”