OLDENBERG, GermanyMoments ago, at Eve Arena, Italian Paolo Vidoz defended his European Heavyweight Title against Great Britain’s Michael Sprott. Since Sprott is a respected fighter who beat Danny Williams for the British and Commonwealth Heavyweight Titles, he looked like a serious opponent.

He wasn’t!

After six boring minutes, the action heated up in the third round when Vidoz hit Sprott with an effective right hand followed (a few seconds later) by an uppercut. Vidoz started the fourth hitting Sprott with a combination, and then he forced Sprott to the ropes where he punched him at will. The British fighter looked to be on the verge of a knockdown, but started firing back. For a few seconds, the match turned into a brawl and the crowd went wild.

In the fifth round both fighters traded punches, but Sprott looked more effective. In the sixth, Vidoz and Sprott started slowly; only in the final minute they traded, mostly jabs and isolated uppercuts. In the seventh it was the same story: nothing in the first two minutes and some action in the fnal minute. A left jab and a right hook, probably, gave Sprott this round. The eighth round was so boring that the spectators booed their disapproval.

Vidoz started the ninth round hitting Sprott with his left jab and landed a good right uppercut. Sprott did the same. Practically, it’s the story of this fight: left jab, right uppercut. During the interval, Sprott’s trainer told him: “Do easy things” – probably because he couldn’t do much more.

In the tenth round, the fighters looked very tired and the crowd started clapping to encourage them to fight. They didn’t. I bet that somebody thought that these guys were 50 years old, not 30 (Sprott) and 35 (Vidoz). The champion and the challenger got back to basics in the eleventh round, hitting each other at full force. During the last break between rounds, Sprott’s trainer went wild using his hands to show his fighter what he had to do to get a KO.

Sprott didn’t listen. In the last round, he just got hit by Vidoz (who didn’t throw many punches, anyway).

While awaiting the verdict, both fighters looked worried; neither of them was sure to have won. The judges left no doubt: 117-112, 117-113 and 117-112 for Vidoz. What can you say? Is this the best the heavyweight division has to offer in Europe? If that’s the case, there won’t be a European world champion any time soon, even with all the alphabet organizations out there. Vidoz had won the title last June 11, in Kempten (Germany) with a surprisingly strong performance against huge favorite Timo Hoffmann, who was down in the 6th round courtesy of a Vidoz’s right hook that has become legendary (Italian television showed it one million times). Not so surprisingly, one of the judges ruled in Hoffmann’s favor (115-113); thankfully, the other scorecards were 115-112 and 114-113 for Vidoz who deserved a much wider margin. Even the Germans, showing pure sportsmanship, booed when the ring announcer read the scorecard in Hoffmann’s favor.

The victory over Hoffmann earned Vidoz a lot of credibility. After the beating he suffered from Nicolai Valuev on October 9, 2004 (9th round TKO), most people believed that Vidoz wasn’t good enough to win a major title. After his fight with Sprott, the doubters will be back. Now Vidoz is 20-2, with 12 wins by KO, and is scheduled for a major fight that will earn him a serious purse. This time, he got just $60,000 … enough to celebrate in his own way: buying some Vietnamese pork (that’s what he said to the press). Sprott, 27-8, will go back to England fighting journeymen.