The odds say that one day, the fates won’t be in his favor, that on some occasion, against some foe, Wladimir Klitschko’s streak of heavyweight title defenses will be broken, and he will once again have the dubious distinction of feeling the sting of loss.
That day did not come on Saturday, in Germany, where the 38-year-old Wlad won his 20th contest in a row, this time over the quite limited challenger, the Samoan-born Aussie Alex Leapai, who went down three times.
Wlad defended his IBF belt for the 16th straight occasion, and prompted the sad eyes of folks who still stubbornly cling to the heavyweight division as boxings’ glamour class to latch like a lamprey onto a possible vehicle of re-vivification, Deontay Wilder.
Leapai started out bad, and didn’t get any better. Slow of foot and hand, he was a punching bag from the minute he stepped out of his dressing room. The end came in round five. Rights landed on Leapai, and down he went. He rose for more punishment, and Wlad finished him off, at 2:05, no count needed.
Wlad outlanded the loser, 147 to 10. You read that right, ten. Leapai came in the heaviest of his career, basically mailing it in, and enjoying the payday before the check was cashed.
Leapai started out bad, and didn’t get any better. Slow of foot and hand, he was a punching bag from the minute he stepped out of his dressing room.The bout was more enjoyable for spectators than Wlad’s last outing, which came last September, against Alexander Povetkin. On that night, the Ukrainian-born Klitschko (now 62-3, with 52 KOs) took Alex Povetkin’s WBA title, adding that honor to his other pants-holders, from the IBF and WBO. He did so with excessive caution and clinching, but against Leapai, Wlad a bit more so lived up to the Dr. Steelhammer nickname (which nobody really uses anyway, cept for ring announcers.)
Some thought he might have that proverbial punchers’ chance, but many of them tossed that “if” out the window when they got a look at his resume. Ten percent of his wins have come over Oscar Talemaira, and Wlad’s skills are not at all Oscar-worthy.
In the first, the 34-year-old Leapai, who got this scrap when he pulled a significant upset by beating Dennis Boytsov last November, via UD10, looked to land a massive right. He went down at 1:50, from a couple jabs. Wlad jabbed, and used hooks, and the odd right.
In the second, Wlad used rights early and often. The one-two on the static Leapai looked painful, as did Leapai’s mobility, which was ugh. This was a not particularly helpful sparring session, as slow as molasses Leapai didn’t pressure Wlad one stitch.
In the third, Leapai tried to pick it up, but then went into a guard, and stood there like a heavy bag. He waved Wlad on, and Wlad complied. The slow jab, hooks to make Leapai go where he wanted him to, were all Wlad needed. The thudding right landed hard and the underdog ate it gamely.
In the fourth, Wlad used the jab, and slid left and right, without much urgency, as Leapai didn’t have it in him to bother Wlad, not unless the Ukrainian decided to fight blindfolded. The Samoan leapt in a couple times to try and land a haymaker. but Wlad was too savvy for that.
The fifth round was the last inning for the loser. Three rights to the chin crumpled Leapai, at 1:23. He arose, at the count of six, but his legs were noodle-y. Wlad landed a hook and about six more rights, sent Leapai on his butt, head in between the ropes, and the ref, Eddie Cotton, didn’t bother counting. The vacant look in Leapai’s eye told the story.
Wlad said after this wasn’t an easy win, and that he was thinking so much of his native Ukraine, and the strife there. He gave a shoutout to those that spoke up on behalf of the people who stood up for the Ukraine. He called Leapai “very tough,” and wished him well in life.
SPEEDBAG Analyst Teddy Atlas cracked that Wlad works harder during his adulation session after the fight than during the scrap.
—Atlas predicted that Wlad will leave before Father Time gets the better of him.
–Joe Tessitore touted the May 10 heavyweight clash, between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola. ESPN will air that clash, in primetime, from Southern California. Atlas called the fight “an interesting one” and “maybe intriguing.”