Saturday, January 28, 2023  |


Will anyone ever tip the Wladimir Klitschko cart again?

Photo by Al Bello/Bongarts-Getty Images

Photo by Al Bello/Bongarts-Getty Images

It will take something, or someone special, to knock off RING heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Wladimir ain’t pretty to watch; his talk of being the baddest man on the planet prior to his last bout looked a mite silly after you note the way in which he went about getting the W over Bryant Jennings. But that is not to detract from his overall skill, his overall effectiveness at his particular brand of pugilism.

Risk aversion is paramount. Protecting that chin is of utmost importance. Everything works off the jab, many trainers will tell their charges. I think, in Klitschko’s case, everything works off NOT getting tagged square on the chin. If that is adhered to, then the win is almost a given.

So, we must wonder, who could tag that chin? Who could do what hasn’t been done since 2004, that is, to say, find that 39-year-old Klitschko defense to be something other than impregnable? I haven’t seen the guy, haven’t really considered anyone potentially up the job in…gosh, how many years? I’d have to really do a clips search to uncover the last time I truly thought we had a guy with some attributes to test, let alone better the Ukrainian giant of height and talent. Oh sure, I’m a fan first; I’ve bought in to some hype or, shall I say, the optimism of the underdog. Maybe Bryant Jennings could bottle thunder, could fight over his head, catch Wlad with something he didn’t see…but if forced to bet the rent, I’d demur. No one on the near or far horizon is beating Wlad, not until Father Time gets his claws into the dude.

Barring that, is there anyone on the horizon who could bother Wlad? Tyson Fury…I think of that fight, and the word “Tiiiimber!” comes to mind. WBC titlist Deontay Wilder? Maybe…but I think it’s more likely his crew gives more marination time to that tangle; maybe we consider that in more depth in mid-2016.

How bout 25-year-old Anthony Joshua? Wait, what? A 13-0 guy? Let’s pause and consider the Brit hitter a bit. If for no other reason than the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, son of a Nigerian mom and Nigerian/Irish pop, did something on Saturday that nobody has done, that being stop ultra-crafty survivor sort Kevin Johnson (29-7-1, 1 knockouts).

“Kingpin” manages to be that trialhorse who gets paid a premium to basically give solid sparring. “Solid,” that was the word for the pummeling Johnson absorbed in round one of their Saturday tangle. Down once, off a combo platter, then more blows raining, hard and fast and furious, down again and saved by the bell. Not for long, Joshua hopped on, continued to be a battering ram, flurrying, while retaining his balance, patiently stalking when Johnson collected his breath and his legs. Patience was rewarded as Joshua went back to that well. More flurrying, and ref Ian John-Lewis showed his decency by pulling the plug.

Unfamiliar territory for Johnson…and for us?

Do we have something here? 13 wins, 13 stops.

Could this guy, Joshua, get inside the risk-averse Ukrainian? Could we see those flowing combos doing damage on Wlad eventually bring a brown acid, Corrie Sanders-flashback to Wlad’s head?

I’m not willing to say that…but I am a tick closer. Anytime someone does something others haven’t been able to do, you got to perk up. OK, it is Kevin Johnson. It isn’t like George Foreman doing a yo-yo job on Joe Frazier. But I love Johnson’s flow, his fluidity, the relative seamlessness as he puts punches together. His blows detonate, OK, not Mike Tyson-quality but there is an explosion which buzzes brains at the end of his punch, which I think could – just maybe – bother Wlad.

I think Joshua deserves to be added to your watch list. I have a sneaking suspicion he’s on Wladimir’s…


Follow Woods on Twitter: