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Lewis-Klitschko: Not A Great Fight

BY Frank Lotierzo ON June 23, 2003
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Is this what heavyweight boxing has come to? Are we so starved for a great heavyweight title fight that we are reduced to calling the Lewis-Klitschko fight great? In my opinion, it looked more like a fight in the Tough man finals than it did a great heavyweight championship fight. If not the Tough man finals, how about Alonzo Mourning - Larry Johnson II? It certainly wasn't Foreman-Lyle. In fact it wasn't even Moorer-Cooper. This fight was nothing more than entertaining. "Great" is a word that should never accompany any sentence in describing the Lewis-Klitschko bout.

Larry Merchant, how dare you insult Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward by saying, "This is Gatti vs. Ward at the highest level on the scale." Wrong! No doubt you and Lampley were already promoting the rematch for HBO-PPV? Gatti and Ward looked like real fighters, rather than the two biggest guys in the bar who were thrown a pair of boxing gloves at closing time and sent to the parking lot to fight.

This fight featured nothing more than two big lumbering heavyweights who couldn't get out of each other's way. Both Lewis and Klitschko did nothing more than head hunt, trying to get the other out with one punch. Neither fighter tried to set anything up; it was just push-paw left jab followed by big right hand and then clinch. There were no combinations, and many lulls in the action. I can't believe that in a world heavyweight title fight that both the champ and challenger could be so dead tired after only three rounds of fighting. However, considering how many punches they were missing, maybe it's not that unbelievable after all. The only suspense this bout held was, which ponderous oaf would collapse first?

I must have missed the memo that came down saying that wild swinging and clinching is part of the criteria for a great fight. The only positive that can be said about this fight is that both Lewis and Klitschko gave their best effort in trying to win, and both showed championship caliber courage and heart. However, the skill level and boxing fundamentals left much to be desired. Can anyone say with a straight face that this is the quality of fighting one expects to see in a championship fight?

I've heard some compare this bout to the Foreman-Lyle slugfest of 1976. Please, at least both Foreman and Lyle looked like professional fighters who both possessed devastating punching power in both hands, go back and re watch the tape if you dispute this, I did. Foreman hit Lyle with some bombs in their fight. In fact, Foreman's punches were nice and tight; his jab was like a telephone poll coming out straight and hard. His hooks and uppercuts were short and crisp, and carried thunderous power. This was Foreman's first fight with Gil Clancy as his trainer. On the other hand, Lyle was just as equal to the task, throwing short hard jabs and countering Foreman when he missed with short hooks and sneaky uppercuts inside. Also, Foreman and Lyle hit each other hard enough to drop each other twice. Lewis and Klitschko didn't land that many clean or telling punches to come close to knocking the other down. Lewis and Klitschko took more out of each other by clutching and grabbing than by punching.

If Lewis-Klitschko was a great fight, then Lalia Ali vs. Jaquie Frazier was the female "Thrilla In Manila"! Lalia and Jaquie looked every bit as skilled and complete as either Lennox or Vitali, and Lalia and Jaquie appeared to be in much better physical condition.

When listing some of the great heavyweight title fights of the last 50 years, Lewis vs. Klitschko doesn't measure up, and it's not even close. A great heavyweight title fight looks something like Marciano vs. Walcott I, Ali vs. Frazier I & III, Holmes vs. Norton and Bowe vs. Holyfield I. These were great heavyweight title fights. Both the winner and loser in all of these fights were in supreme physical shape, and demonstrated sound boxing skill and ability at the highest level. And, yes, that goes for Marciano! Marciano fought at a level vs. Walcott that made him look as polished as Marvin Hagler, compared to the level of fighting that was displayed by both Lewis and Klitschko in their fight.

I know boxing fans are hungry for great fights, especially in the heavyweight division. However, lets not diminish the memory and legacy of the aforementioned great heavyweight title fights by including Lewis-Klitschko among them, because it really doesn't belong. Yes, Lewis-Klitschko was an entertaining fight, and both fighters showed great courage, but they didn't give us a great fight!

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