This past weekend multiple heavyweight title belt holder Wladimir Klitschko 58-3 (51) won his 19th title bout with a 6th round TKO over contender Tony Thompson 36-3 (24). Klitschko, who holds the WBA/WBO/IBF and IBO titles, was never in trouble once or even needed a deep breath in the process of finishing Thompson.
Soon the cookbook analysts will be flooding the boxing media with breakdowns and theories as to what Thompson should've done in order to nullify and perhaps better Klitschko. They'll talk about angles and pivots as if they really applied to Thompson in his losing bid versus Klitschko. Hopefully, they'll stay away from questioning his heart and effort because that cannot be questioned, no, not in this fight. Maybe in their first meeting back in 2008 that might be the case, but not so this past weekend.
Here's what we know for certain about Wladimir Klitschko. He starts very slow and is also very shaky early, as well as being stiff.It also takes him a few rounds to judge distance well. He tries hard to project confidence but as we know it's more of a front until he feels that he is the more commanding presence in the ring as the fight moves along. Ideally, the way to go after him is hard and with bad intentions from the onset. Stress that you're trying to take his head off and he'll leave you alone and try to draw you out while he's waiting for the perfect right cross to cut loose with. If you can't outbox him, which nobody around today can, you must accept the fact that in order to beat him you have to risk being stopped yourself, something he must be shown from actions, not words.
Did Tony Thompson attempt to do that this past Saturday night? Of course not. But he did try to throw straight shots at Klitschko and try to send the message that Wladimir couldn't just walk him down at will. He even let go with some finishing left crosses to impress upon Wladimir that the right jabs weren't just a gimmick to keep him away. But therein lied the problem, regardless of what Bruce Beck, Dan Rafael and Freddie Roach said before the fight. Thompson isn't very physically strong or much of a puncher for a heavyweight his size. If you don't buy that, then check out Wladimir's demeanor and reactions when Thompson tried to impose himself. Don't look too hard because there was nothing to see.
The fact is Wladimir had total disdain for Thompson's power. It was as if Klitschko was almost willing to say, I'll drop my hands and give you a free shot with your Sunday punch. It was obvious that the deciding factor in the fight was the fact that Thompson had nothing in his physical arsenal in the form of a usable weapon to bother or make Wladimir do anything that he didn't want to. That's what made the fight an impossible task for Thompson. Klitschko's the type of fighter that if you can't hurt or worry him with something that you present, you can't beat him. And that was the unenviable task that Thompson was confronted with. There was no strategy or adjustment he could make. The bottom line was he was incapable of executing anything from a physical vantage point to make Klitschko have to react or adjust to it.
Most would say that if you can match Wladimir in height and reach and can box a little bit, you might have a shot. However, that didn't apply to Thompson. Instead of working on angles and pivots, Thompson should've taken part in an exhaustive physical and conditioning program. Granted, that wouldn't have insured victory because Klitschko is simply the greater fighter. However, if Thompson could've muscled Wladimir a little and roughed him up along with possessing a punch that even had a prayer to unnerve Wlad, he would've been more competitive.
Don't admonish Tony Thompson's effort because he tried his best. It's just that a Volkswagen can't handle a Mack truck in a collision. Thompson could never be good enough to avoid the collision, so his first priority should've been addressing what he could do in order to deal with the collision better. Perhaps he did, but if that's the case, he fared worse this time against Klitschko than he did during their first fight four years ago. So I doubt he worked on strength and conditioning more this time out.
He said before the bout how he was going to push the fight and take it to Klitschko. That was the correct strategy and mindset. But at the end of the day he didn't posses a single weapon to combat Wladimir with and out boxing him wasn't an option due to the strength disadvantage he was at.
Now the Klitschko train moves on and awaits the next no hope. There's no doubt about the fact that Wladimir Klitschko has a hold and occupies the top spot in the heavyweight division more so than any other fighter or belt holder in any other division. Part of that is because the heavyweight division of today is so pedestrian and the rest of it is — Wladimir is a very formidable and physical presence in it.
The bottom line is — there's nobody around to test him, something that hurts the fans and his own chance to enhance his legacy.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com