Today, multiple heavyweight title belt holder Wladimir Klitschko 56-3 (49) will go for his 50th stoppage as a professional boxer. And for the third weekend in a row the cable network Epix will televise a heavyweight title bout. Klitschko, who has won 14 straight fights since he was stopped by Lamon Brewster back in April of 2004, has clearly been the dominant heavyweight in boxing since then but has yet to really be accepted by boxing fans, especially in the US. And a lot of that is because of his risk averse style, something that isn't endearing to boxing fans when they see how big, strong and skilled he is.
It's doubtful that he can do anything to change his public persona in one fight, even with a decisive knockout over Mormeck. However, this weekend he's presented with a rare opportunity - and that is fight on the heels of the other two belt holders in the division, his brother Vitali and Alexander Povetkin.
In this bout he'll have a chance for fans to make a side-by-side comparison between himself and the other title holders. And he should win with less of a struggle than either Povetkin or his brother had in securing decision victories to retain their titles.
With Vitali and Povetkin coming off reasonably exciting fights and neither of them looking dominant or unbeatable, Wladimir could make some inroads with the fans if beats Mormeck decisively. And if you think about it, Wladimir should win much more convincingly than Vitali did against Dereck Chisora two weeks ago or Povetkin did last week versus Marco Huck.
In the case of Vitali, he was fighting a young strong opponent in Chisora who had the style and needed mindset to make him work and stay in the fight. Although he was a heavy favorite, nobody thought Vitali was just gonna walk over Chisora without any resistance. As for Povetkin-Huck, you had two title holders who weren't separated by much in regards of talent who both turned pro within seven months of each other. Again, Povetkin was the favorite, but it's not as if there weren't some shrewd observers who liked Huck to prevail. As it turned out, Vitali and Povetkin didn't meet expectations and Chisora and Huck exceeded them.
The difference between those two fights and Klitschko-Mormeck is, Wladimir is an overwhelming favorite and holds every advantage in the world one fighter could hold over the other with the exception of intangibles. Wladimir is four years younger than the 39 year old Mormeck, he's at least six inches taller with a much longer reach. Oh, he's also faster, hits harder and is more experienced and versatile. Heading into the bout, no one with the exception of Lamon Brewster, who is the last fighter to beat Klitschko, gives Mormeck much of a shot to do what he did to Wladimir eight years ago.
Mormeck is a pretty good puncher if he catches you clean but he didn't put much hurt on Timur Ibragimov, Fres Oquendo or Vinny Maddalone in his three fights as a heavyweight. He is a skilled fighter, but to beat Klitschko fighting as a swarmer, you have to be unrelenting and impose yourself early in order to deliver a message to Wlad that you're not intimidated by him and are going to try and take him out with everything you send his way. Mormeck is also a one dimensional fighter and if he actually tries to get inside of Klitschko, the only place where he may have the edge, Wladimir should welcome the opportunity and try to put him in press row via his big right hand, a punch that he gets off quickly and disguises well.
If you had to pick a fighter for Wladimir to meet and look good against, it would be Mormeck. Add to that fighting him at a time when the other two title holders didn't exactly distinguish themselves in their last defenses within 14 days of his bout, he couldn't ask for a better scenario. If that weren't enough, his trainer, Emanuel Steward, who's been saying for the last couple of years that the lack of knockouts in the heavyweight division has hurt the perception of the sport and division, could Klitschko ask for any more motivation?
At this stage of his career it'll be hard for Klitschko to shed the perception that most of his critics have of him. And the reason for that is, he's struggled and hasn't been overwhelming against the mostly pedestrian contenders he defended his titles against. No, Mormeck isn't the "Smokin" Joe Frazier of today's heavyweight division. But if he is true to his words that he's coming to fight, Wladimir should be afforded plenty of opportunities to put him to sleep more convincingly than his last opponent, David Haye, did three and a half years ago - if he just lets his hands go and fires without worrying first about what's coming back at him.
If there was ever a time for Wladimir to escape Vitali's shadow and deliver a big knockout, it's tonight. Yes, you could even say there's a lot of pressure on him to shine against Mormeck in this fight. Then again if he's all that, he should welcome the chance and draw from it.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV