Saturday, April 22, 2006

Klitschko roars to the top, stops Byrd

By JE Grant

MANNHEIM, GERMANY --- Fighting with power and skill, Wladimir Klitschko, 46-3 (40 KOs), Ukraine, 241, scored two knockdowns enroute to stopping defending titlist Chris Byrd, 39-3-1 (20 KOs), Las Vegas, 213 ½, in 7 rounds to become the third man from a former Soviet bloc nation to hold a world belt.

Just as in their first meeting, the bout was never in doubt. Klitschko jabbed, Klitschko smashed sharp right hands, and Byrd could do nothing about it.

From round one the pattern was set. Klitschko peppered Byrd with an extended left hand and waited for opportunities to bomb with right hands. After a probing first round, Klitschko took away Byrd’s only possibility for winning rounds by effectively tying up his smaller foe on the inside.

After sweeping the first four rounds, (HBO’s Harold Lederman inexplicably gave the opening round to Byrd), Klitschko landed a picture perfect right hand to the southpaw’s chin putting him flat. Though still hurt, Byrd rose quickly only to face a measured barrage from Klitschko and offering almost nothing in return.

As Klitschko poured on the attack, doubts about his stamina and his propensity for punching himself out dissipated as he calmly worked in round 6 picking his spots wisely and maintaining adequate distance to land his thunderous right.

Round 7 began much as the round before with Klitschko finding Byrd’s chin with increasing frequency. After tagging Byrd with snapping combinations, Klitschko send him crashing to the canvas with a capstone right hand that was emblematic of the dominance he showed over the course of 19 rounds the two had engaged each other.

Byrd again rose and wanted to continue but a large gash over his left eye, wobbly legs, and no offense led to referee Wayne Kelly to halt the fight at 41 seconds of the round.

JEBoxing scored the bout 60-53 at the end of 6 rounds.

Keeping Byrd at arms length was the strategy that Klitschko honed to perfection.

The “trick was to keep his left extended,” said Klitschko trainer Emanuel Steward to the HBO audience.

The trick left Byrd without options.

“I was never in the fight,” said Byrd to HBO's Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley. Byrd entered the ring as the longest reigning of the numerous belt-holders.

Klitschko now wants to move on to the other three men who hold titles: Hasim Rahman, Nicolay Valuev and Serguei Liakhovich.

“Let’s go for some other belts,” said Klitschko. Although this is something that fans have clamored for, promoters and sanctioning bodies have little interest in allowing it.

Maybe it won’t matter if Klitschko continues defeating skilled fighters, such as Byrd, and big hitters, such as Samuel Peter.

“There’s nothing on the horizon” to stop Klitschko from “keeping the title until he retires,” said Steward.

For his part, Klitschko wants to defy his legion of critics by giving himself no way out.

Said Klitschko, “failure is not an option.”


Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

So much talk about the past and the future with the hvy's,perhaps THE PRESENT is right under our noses.His name? Wladimir Klitschko.

Yes,there have been a few 'bumps' along the way,but for that matter--Lewis suffered a few 'bumps' as well.(e.g Mccall,Rahman,and a VERY debatable win over Mercer.) The just-turned 30 WK may be in his prime/peak years as a hvy,and has about the most quality corner known to mankind.What can this guy do between the ages of 30-35? We may be surprised...

5:47 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Agreed. He's got speed to burn and power to finish the job. Every fighter has some weaknesses, and we know about Wladimir's. I don't see anyone right now, however, who can take advantage of his shortcomings. He just has too much in his arsenal.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

On the flip-side JE,one could say that all Vlad has done recently is beaten a limited slugger and a blown-up cruiserweight.And they would have somewhat of a point there.But one of those guys was a dangerous top-10 hvy,and the other a skilled top-5 hvy.So how 'critical' can one really be there? I mean even in looking over Vlad's overall career,no--he's not perfect,but the guy is a Gold Medal winner and about 50-3 and as pro!Perhaps that's not quite 'great' yet,but this just in folks: That's good!

P.S-I think if nothing else,Manny Steward has been excellent for Vlad from a mental standpoint.Also--I heard them say Vitali's knee is still bothering him.Well,I still put it at slightly over 50% that he returns for one fight in the next 12-16 months.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Oh...This reminds me of the article down below I will get to shortly.While the 'alphabet-soups' have no doubt been horrible for the fans and the current health and long-term future of the sport,there is no doubt they have benefitted a few fighters in recent years.Byrd--is a prime example.Had it not been for the 'soups',he probably wouldn't be retiring at 35 as a multi-millionaire.What I mean by that is this;he would have either been an undisputed cruiserweight world champion,or a 'just' a perrenial (top) hvy contender.This is not (in a sense) a knock on Byrd,but he was just never a true hvy.He was a good one,but never the best one.

*At 200.lbs he would have been however.

P.S-He also got a few 'gift' like decisions as well,and got a bit lucky against Vitali in all honesty.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Oh...(Yeah,I'm not quite through yet!) The only guy out there RIGHT NOW in 2006 that I would give a decent chance to beat him? Sergei Liakhovich.I'm telling ya' (Well,you know how long I've been saying this!) he has been so underrated,misunderstood,and just plain overlooked until recently.Incidentally,he has himself just turned 30,and is in HIS prime/peak years as a hvy as well.I would make that fight about a tossup JE.I may give a slight edge to Vlad off of power and strength,but not much.The corner(s) could really play a critical part in that one,and they both have quality ones to be certain.

As for Rahman? Even though he has a good jab and decent skills,I would give him little more than a 'puncher's chance'.And while I don't think Wlad has a BAD chin,it's clearly not a great one either,so that is a distinct possibility.One problem though.Rahman doesn't have a great chin either.And Vlad is bigger,and FASTER.My hunch is that he KO's Rahman in the early rounds.Just more formidable offensively.He starts working the jab,and then BOOM! It's over within a few rounds...

As for Valuev? "Is he the best 7-foot 300-pound hvy in history,or...Is he just the best 7-foot 300-pound hvy in history?"

I'ts the latter.But that being said,I don't think he is quite as bad as some say.I have to give him a bit of credit.He's cracked my top-10,and has developed at least a very modest level of skills.And yes,he's HUGE.And appears to have a good chin.Those factors alone will present a bit of a unique and difficult task in themselves.But that being said,no...Valeuv isn't 'A-level',and he never will be.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

As for Liakhovich-Mcbride,Rahman-Maskaev,and Valuev-Beck?


All three should clearly win,especially the first two.Mcbride is nothing but a good big club-fighter and C-level at best.Sergei wins easy,probably by early/mid round stoppage.I actually feel the same with Maskaev,even though I know what happened in the late 90's/early 2000's.Barring a 'lucky punch',I think he gets stopped in similar fashion.Among other things,he's now over-35.And while he can punch and was never bad,he was never that good either.And doesn't have a great chin himself.And while Rahman isn't 'fast',he's not slow.Maskaev-especially the mid-30's version-is.

As for Valuev-Beck? Valuev SHOULD win...But,perhaps not by much,and I'm not entirely certain.The thing is,even though Beck has decent power,NV appears to (if nothing else) have a solid chin.And if the fight is close on points,he's going to have a hard time getting a decision over there...

Anyways,like I told Kenny Weldon (Sergei's trainer) the other day upon hearing about the Mcbride fight,I said--I'm not thrilled about it,but right or wrong,I've always given a guy a tad bit of 'slack' for a first defense,or after a string of very tough defenses.But after that--"no mercy".And while Sergei-Brewster,Byrd-Vlad,Toney-Rahman,and to a lesser extent Ruiz-Valuev,were all quality 'title' matchups,these defenses are a joke,and I am expecting much more in the second and latter half of 2006.Well we get it? Nope,I'm afraid not JE.I fear us fans are going to have to wait until 2007 for things to really get 'hot' and interesting.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

...Holy s*it.*Looks up*

(Sorry for suckin up all your 'bandwidth' bud! LOL!)


11:59 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Cruiser -- You may give Liakhovich a pass but I don't. McBride has no business in a title fight of any kind. Liakhovich has proven himself against a quality fighter and now he fights club fighter???? Why????

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Toney said...

Lights Out will destroy any of the giant robots.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Yeah...Your right JE.


7:27 PM  
Blogger Gary Digital Williams said...

I agree with what Larry Merchant said during the Klitschko-Byrd telecast.

If nothing else, we have seen some good bouts in the heavyweight division of late. With the exception of the Klitschko destruction of Byrd, the bouts have been interesting if nothing else. It was also good to see Klitschko have a solid performance.

Klitschko's chin is still a question and that's what makes a matchup between him any of the other champions interesting.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Yep.Klitschko is both flawed - and formidable.

He's exciting.I like watching him.


1:10 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

I thought Klitschko was incredible against Byrd. Pure methodical domination.

The guy is on fire right now and I hope wet get a unification bout at some point in '06. My gut tells me it will be a fight with Rahman, which I think Wladimir will win by KO.

But I also think Klitschko vs. Liakhovich would be exciting. Sergei I think would be aggressive, and it would be very interesting to see the two different fighting styles square off.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Spot-on Tim! Good post mate!

(I think Sergei-Vlad would be about a tossup.)

*Sidenote-As somebody who has been closely following Sergei the last few years,I was a bit flabbergasted at some of the misconceptions surrounding him.He was described as a slow,plodding,hvy with no power,chin,heart,and one that had a "European style".NONE of that is factual.He is relatively fast and agile,has good but not HUGE power,and AT BEST fights in a "Euro-American" hybrid style.Sergei - is one of the few 'boxer-punchers' in the division.He also has a good chin and heart to spare.I actually think he has better 'intangibles' then Sergei,but Vlad is about 2 or 3 inches taller,a bit stronger I.M.O,and has a slight edge in power undoubtedly.But personally,if somebody put a gun to my head here? I think I would go with Sergei.He is more fluid,CALM UNDER PRESSURE,and I think may have a better chin and stamina.

7:44 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

I was one who never questioned Sergei's skill, but I did question his chin. We all know now that Mo Harris dropped Sergei, and the fight with Guinn, Guinn barely touched Sergei's chin, so that didn't answer any questions about it. So I saw that as Sergei's weakness. Well, he withstood Brewster, enough said. Sergei has always thrown that straight right to the body, it was just exenuated against Brewster, and has always been effective. A fight between Wlad and Sergei would be the best the division could offer, but Wlad is looking at Ray Austin (who is the highest rated contender in the IBF) and Shannon Briggs (who is the most marketable heavy) for his first defense. Hell, maybe Wlad will defend against Farug Saleem. That is how the first defenses of all these newly crowned champions is going.

12:52 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I think the most likely unification match would be Rahman-Klitschko. Neither are beholden to Don King. Of course the WBC or IBF may strip either or both for engaging each other instead of a no-name "mandatory" but just as was the case with Tarver-Johnson, no one would care about the titles at stake.

3:09 AM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Some might care, and that's a loss to the fans. However, we as fans don't care, and will be more willing to shell out our money for a real fight between real fighters, no matter the titles attached.

3:26 AM  
Blogger dwainmorgan4313225332 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

"Faruq Saleem"...(LOL)...

As for the liklihood of Klitschko-Rahman - agreed JE.It is the most likely one IMO,but probably wouldn't be until early or mid 2007 I fear.And by then,it will probably be almost 50-50 as to WHAT Klitschko it is!Yes,I think either Vlad-Rahman or Vitali-Rahman is pretty likely sometime in the next 12-16 months.And either would be a good and interesting fight that I would watch.If it is Vlad-Rahman,it would be a good matchup between two legit top-3 guys.But honestly,despite the relative brevity of his pro career,I think you could make a reasonable case for Sergei being being 'the man' as well.The only thing he doesn't have as far as credentials that the other two do,are victorie(S) over TOP fighters in years past,and he has less than 30 pro fights.HOWEVER - he just 'beat the man that beat the man' in Brewster/Klitschko.This is what weve come to,and this is where we are currently at.It's 1A,1B,and 1C...

1:07 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

BTW-Since a unification fight is highly unlikely for 2006,I think the following two fights would be the most important,intriguing,and entertaining.They are...

Liakhovich-Brewster,or Brewster-Klitschko 2.

Let's hope and pray that at least one of these fights happens in mid or late 2006...

1:15 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Christ,IF he get's his ass down to the 2-teens or 220's,I wouldn't even mind seeing Toney in against one of the champions.He's still a legit top-10 guy.But Toney is also 5'10" and 37 yrs.old now.Those are numbers he CAN'T do anything about.Man...It just DISGUSTED and frustrated me to no end that he came in that hvy for Rahman.I only had him losing that fight 7-5,and there is virtually no doubt in my mind that had he been lighter,he would have won.I hate to quote myself (Okay,actually I love it...LOL) But I remember saying the following before the fight...

"Toney coming in at under/over 230,could very well mean the difference between him WINNING a close decision,and LOSING a close decision."

Simply put - I think that is about EXACTLY what happened there...


1:28 AM  

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