It looks like there may be only one heavyweight on the planet capable of mounting a serious challenge to Wladimir Klitschko. Unfortunately for the boxing world, it's his brother Vitali, and the two will never fight each other. That leaves Wladimir with no choice but to keep facing a lineup of wannabes and used-to-bes in a succession of fights that must have even the Ukrainian feeling like yawning in the ring.
The latest snoozefest was brought to you by former champion Hasim Rahman, who hasn't beaten anybody of significance since he whipped Monte Barrett three years ago. Klitschko thudded his powerful jab almost at will through Rahman's high gloves in the early rounds, until he finally softened him up for a three-punch combo that forced referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight with 44 seconds left in the seventh round. The victory was Klitschko's 10th straight, all coming against opponents who went into the ring as significant underdogs, and raised the 32-year-old Ukrainian's record to 52-3, with 46 knockouts. "Hasim Rahman really got punished tonight," Klitschko said. "I expected his corner to give up earlier in the fight."
Klitschko won every round with ease as Rahman (45-7-4, 37 KOs) seemed content to wait for one big shot, barely throwing his hands and showing no movement, either with his body or his head. As a result, he became an easy target, almost a punching bag as the rounds wore on. Klitschko, who does not like to work inside, seemed content to stay in the middle of the ring and jab the life out of Rahman, landing 134 out of 251 jabs for the fight, a tremendous 53 per cent connection ratio. Klitschko mixed in his good left hook and a few rights, but threw few combos early until he sensed by round five that a weary Rahman posed no threat to him, a fail-safe strategy he has adopted the past few years because he has been knocked out in all three of his losses.
Right before round six, Rahman's eyes told the story as he sat on his stool: he looked like a beaten man. About a minute into the sixth round, Klitschko broke out of his safety zone, nailing Rahman by the ropes with two left hooks and then catching the American off balance with a right hand that knocked him down. Rahman sat on the canvas as long as he could before getting up. He survived the round, but all he did was delay the inevitable. Klitschko continued to open up aggressively in the seventh until he landed a powerful left-right hook combo which wobbled Rahman, followed by another left. As he started to throw a right, Weeks jump between them and waved it off.
What lies ahead for Klitschko? Klitschko mentioned three possible opponents in an interview with HBO's Max Kellerman - unbeaten Olympic gold medalist Alexander Povetkin of Russia, who was his original opponent for this fight but had to pullout in October because of a foot injury; former cruiserweight world champion David Haye, who has been calling out the Ukrainian and was seated ringside, and all-action American Chris Arreola. Vitali owns two belts and Klitschko two, and when asked by Kellerman if he'd rather own all four than have to share, Wladimir said, "I'd rather do it with my brother than alone." For now, it's the firm of Klitschko & Klitschko that rules the heavyweight division.
Posted 12:00 AM | Dec 13, 2008
HBO WCB - Dec. 13, 2008
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