VITALI KLITSCHKO vs. TOMASZ ADAMEK
Nearly a decade ago, HBO ran an ad depicting the Klitschko brothers plotting world domination -- in boxing terms. The dream of four major belts in the family came true July 2 after Wladimir defeated David Haye to add the WBA belt to the IBF and WBO straps and swatted away one of the two biggest threats to their empire. On Saturday, WBC king Vitali takes on the other in Tomasz Adamek -- in Adamek's native Poland. Vitali is attempting to become only the second 40-or-older heavyweight champ to successfully defend his title. The 46 yr-old George Foreman is the other (4/22/95 W 12 Axel Schulz). Adamek is attempting to become the sixth cruiserweight/light heavyweight champ to win the heavyweight title (Michael Spinks, Roy Jones, Evander Holyfield, Michael Moorer & David Haye).
Will Big Brother maintain the siblings' iron grip or will Adamek shake the world by slaying this giant? The oddsmakers say Vitali, installing him as a better than 5 ½-1 favorite. These CompuBox factors lay out what each has done recently and the challenges that face them.
Klitschko then and now: In six tracked fights between 2000-2004, Klitschko averaged 58.7 punches per round, landing 40.9 percent overall and 48.5 percent of his 31.9 power shots per round. His jab was effective as he threw 26.8 per round (27.3 percent above the norm) and landed 8.5 (30.6 percent above the baseline).
Following his four-year layoff, the then 37-year-old did something almost unprecedented: He became statistically better. In his seven comeback fights Klitschko's work rate jumped to 69.4 (a 15.5 percent leap) and though his overall accuracy slipped to 34.9 percent his connects per round inched to 24.2 from 24.0. His jab is a bigger part of his offense; his 43.9 per round comprises 63.2 percent of his total punches (it was 45.6 percent before) and his 12 connects per round doubles the 6.0 heavyweight norm. Yet his more cautious approach has had no effect on his power punching; while his output dropped to 25.5 per round from 31.9, his accuracy dipped from 48.5 to 48.0, still above the 42.5 percent norm.
He's also getting hit less. Before, opponents struck at a 32 percent overall rate and landed 39.3 percent of their power shots. Now he's tasting 21.3 percent overall and 25.7 percent of their hooks, uppercuts and crosses. This surely does Vitali's 40-year-old body good. Vitali's outlanded his seven comeback opponents an amazing 1500-460- a better than 3-1 ratio. Opponents landed a measley 3 power punches & 7 total punches per round!
The "Klitschko Effect": Like Bernard Hopkins, Klitschko's style effectively shuts down his opponents' offenses. The following compares his rivals' career CompuBox numbers to their showings against Klitschko.
Shannon Briggs (14 previous tracked fights) -- 32.4 percent fewer punches thrown (26.3-38.9), 64.4 percent less landed (6.1-17.1), 53.7 percent less power attempts (11.4-24.6), 73.6 percent less power connects (3.2-12.1).
Kevin Johnson (2 previous fights) -- 27.5 percent fewer thrown (27.7 to 38.2), 72.5 percent less landed (5.4-19.6), 80.6 percent less power attempts (4.5-23.1), 97.1 percent fewer power connects (0.4-13.4).
Chris Arreola (5 previous fights) -- 41.8 percent fewer thrown (33.1-56.8), 67.1 percent less landed (8.6-26.1), 16.8 percent less power attempts (28.3-34.0), 87.4 percent less power connects (2.4-19.0)
Juan Carlos Gomez (4 heavyweight fights) -- 63.7 percent fewer thrown (27.6-75.9), 74.4 less landed (8.0-31.2), 57.4 percent fewer power attempts (21.6-50.7), 67.9 percent less power connects (7.8-24.3)
Only Samuel Peter averaged more overall punches than his previous 12 non-Klitschko fights (56.0 from 54.6, 2.5 percent more), but he landed 52.8 percent less overall (8.6-18.2), threw 45.7 percent fewer power shots (15.1-27.8) and landed 71.9 percent less power punches (3.1-11.0).
Adamek vs. Heavyweights: In six heavyweight fights, Adamek reduced his output over his three bouts tracked at light-heavyweight (54.3 from 63.4) but is more accurate (39.0 overall from 29.8, 30.4 percent jabs from 25.9 and 47.3 percent power from 33.4). With far bigger hitting areas, that stands to reason.
Against the lumbering 6-6 Kevin McBride, Adamek prospered, out-landing the Irish hulk 238-77 (overall), 108-36 (jabs) and 230-41 (power). He averaged 57.4 punches per round, landing 34.5 percent overall and 39 percent of his power shots while McBride landed just 19.8 percent of his 32.3 per round, 16.5 percent of his jabs and 24.1 percent of his power shots.
Against a somewhat more skilled big man in a faded Michael Grant, Adamek struggled at times, especially later. While he dominated numerically (212-109 overall connects, 77-62 jab connects, 135-47 power connects), his output slipped (46.5 in the first six, 35.1 in the second half). Fortunately for Adamek, his average connects rose from 12.1 to 15.3, but his fatigue was obvious, as he was nearly out on his feet in the last round of the Grant fight. Those issues appeared solved against McBride (56 thrown and 18.8 connects first six, 58.8 and 20.8 second six).
Prediction: Adamek has the mobility, speed, courage and crowd support to give Big Brother a major scare and the momentum created by a fast start may result in history. More likely, Klitschko will weather the early storm, use his size to break down Adamek and capture a well-earned decision.
See more CompuBox analysis of Vitali Klitschko vs. Tomasz Adamek at insidehboboxing.com
YURIORKIS GAMBOA vs. DANIEL PONCE DE LEON
With the potential superfight with Juan Manuel Lopez temporarily off the table (thanks to Orlando Salido), Yuriorkis Gamboa turns his attention to another southpaw slugger in Mexican Daniel Ponce de Leon, who is seeking the ultimate rebound following his disputed decision loss to unbeaten prospect Adrien Broner. The styles indicate a high-octane slugfest but which man will prevail and why? Gamboa is an 8-1 favorite. The following CompuBox factors offer these clues:
Gamboa's Search for Balance: In the past, the flashy Cuban has either been an electrifying slugger with virtually no focus on defense or a technical boxer content to score points and win decisions. Consider:
Before facing Jorge Solis in March, Gamboa landed 41.8 percent of his total punches (19.7 of 47.0) and 50.4 percent of his power shots (17.9 of 35.6) in seven CompuBox-tracked fights lasting four rounds or less. His more outstanding efforts came against Rogers Mtagwa (49.5 percent overall accuracy, 59.8 power accuracy), Gilberto Luque (61.2 percent, 69.4 percent) and Whyber Garcia (35.3 percent, 46.7 percent).
But when Gamboa was forced to go 10 or more rounds those numbers tanked. In four such fights Gamboa landed just 26.1 percent of his total punches (37.6 percent lower) and 35.6 percent of his power shots (29.4 percent lower). Interestingly, Gamboa's output was 20 percent higher in the longer fights (58.7 to 47.0), perhaps because his attention shifted toward securing points from the judges.
In his most recent outing against Jorge Solis, Gamboa seemed nearer to his goal of pragmatism without sacrificing excitement. Averaging 48.5 punches per round (16 percent below the 57.7 featherweight baseline), Gamboa landed 40.2 percent of his overall punches, 45 percent of his power shots and registered five knockdowns. By making the most of his punch attempts, Gamboa bottled up Solis' volume attack and exposing his questionable chin to less return fire. Solis averaged just 26.8 punches per round, just 35 percent of the 76 he averaged in his three previous fights. As a result Gamboa piled up leads of 194-107 (total punches), 78-29 (total connects), 151-43 (power attempts) and 68-19 (power connects). Solis managed to throw more jabs (64-43) and tie Gamboa in landed jabs (10), but that provided little solace.
Still, Gamboa's defense in attack mode still needs work. Solis still struck Gamboa with 44.2 percent of his power shots, 17 percent above the 126-pound norm of 36.6 percent.
Pump up the Volume: At his best, Ponce de Leon never stops throwing no matter what style is before him. Against boxer-puncher Gerry Penalosa he averaged an astronomical 116.6 punches per round to Penalosa's 40.1 while scoring a near-shutout in March 2007.
Against pure boxer Cornelius Lock in May 2010, he threw 71.9 per round and amassed definitive edges in every category (719-532 total punches, 212-109 total connects, 350-274 jabs thrown, 88-34 jab connects, 369-258 power attempts and 124-75 power connects). Finally, Ponce de Leon can be devastating against those who slug with him. Antonio Escalante was out-thrown (88.3 punches per round to 46.0) and out-landed (100-26 total, 22-3 jabs and 78-23 power) en route to a three-round stoppage.
Gamboa will need to use his speed to shut down Ponce de Leon's offense, much like Broner tried to do in March. Though many thought the Mexican did enough to win, Broner's Mayweather-like approach (35.1 punches per round and 41.6 percent power precision) held Ponce de Leon to 59.2 punches per round, 4.0 percent jab accuracy and 30.4 percent power success. Despite throwing far fewer punches (351-592), Broner out-landed his rival 127-126 overall and 25-8 in jabs while holding his own in power connects (101-119).
The million-dollar question for Gamboa is whether he'll follow George Benton's truism of winning today and looking good the next time or if he'll look to produce another highlight-reel moment against a dangerous, if sometimes ponderous, puncher.
Prediction: Both men are paragons of unorthodoxy, but Gamboa is far superior in terms of hand and foot speed, mobility and one-punch knockout power. De Leon has only been stopped once -- a one-round blowout to "JuanMa" in June 2008 -- but otherwise his chin has been reliable. Gamboa is capable of producing fireworks at any moment but if the KO doesn't come in the first six rounds it may not come at all. Nevertheless, Gamboa will win and he'll have to wait and see if Lopez will regain his belt from Salido and revive their belated showdown.
See more CompuBox analysis of Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon at insidehboboxing.com