Archives for the month of: December, 2010
Baysangurov poses for a picture with Klitschko and Kadyrov after his victory over Gutierrez in their junior middleweight fight in Brovary

l-r: Kadyrov, Baysangurov, and Vitali Klitschko

 

By Johnny Walker

A recent article in Spiegel Online seeks to use the “guilt by association” line of thinking to discredit Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko for their associations with controversial Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov.

The article, written by Stefan Berg, damns the Klitschkos with faint praise for their charitable efforts and promotion of democracy in Ukraine and beyond, setting them up as false saviors whose democratic ideals are a mere facade for a much darker strain of political thinking.

There is little doubt that Kadyrov himself is bad news. 

This is a man who initally fought for Chechen independence, and who later switched sides to fight for Mother Russia against his former comrades. 

Kadryov is what some might call “colorful”: he brandishes a gold-plated pistol and fancies himself an amateur boxer, having associated with not only the Klitschko Brothers but also with Mike Tyson in the past.

The brutish Chechen strongman, a Muslim who was appointed to his post by none other than Russian leader Vladimir Putin, also has some interesting views when it comes to marital infidelity:

“If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of them are killed,” he has said

“Women’s liberation” for Kadyrov means liberating women from their very lives: he is an enthusiastic supporter of so-called “honor killings.”

He is also suspected in a host of other nefarious activities too lengthy to list here, including political assassinations and torture.

The Klitschkos’ involvement with Kadyrov seems to revolve around their promotional company K-2’s signing of a Chechen fighter, light middleweight Zaurbek Baysangurov.

On Dec. 4, 2010, Baysangurov won by TKO over Richard Gutierrez on a card in Brovary, Ukraine, in which Vitali Klitschko and Kadyrov not only sat at ringside, but also posed with the Chechen fighter for photographers after his victory.

Wladimir Klitschko is also purported to have met with Kadryov in 2009 at a boxing event in Grozny, the Chechen capital, and supposedly promised more such boxing cards for Chechens in the future.

So what does all of this mean?  Does it mean, as Berg tries very hard to suggest, that the Klitschko brothers, whose world-wide image is that of squeaky-clean promoters of democracy and freedom, really harbor secret dark ambitions that run totally counter to their public image?

K-2 spokesman Bernd Böente insists that the relations between the brothers and Kadryov are unavoidable given their promotion of Baysangurov.  Boente told Spiegel Online that the Klitschkos have “no official position” on Kadyrov.

To this writer, it seems that at worst, the Klitschkos may be guilty of a lack of judgment here.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that business interests got someone into hot water, and collided with his professed values.

But certainly one thing that can’t be doubted or discounted is the commitment to helping the less fortunate on this planet that both Klitschko brothers have consistently shown. 

On December 8, in an article entitled “Wladimir Klitschko Does Good While Doing Well,” trainer Emanuel Steward says:

Of all of the fighters I have known, I have never known anyone other than [Wladimir] and his brother where their mission seems to be helping less fortunate people.  Wladimir never brags about it. He’s really serious about it. He and his brother have fully educated people from Kenya. I have seen checks he’s written. He’s done it in Brazil. He seems to feel like that is his calling on this planet — to help the less fortunate. That’s where a lot of his money goes.”

When measured against a couple of appearances with a questionable political type like Ramzan Kadyrov, it seems that the scales are still tilted heavily in favor of the Klitschkos.

However, in this world where appearances are so important, we might expect that the heavyweight champions have a little more to say about Kadyrov other than a vague and noncommittal comment issued through an advisor.

Wladimir and Vitali, we’re waiting.

 By Johnny Walker

It seems that 2010 is ending much like 2009 did as far as boxing’s heavyweight division is concerned: with escalating trash talk between the respective camps of the Klitschko Brothers and David Haye.

Haye versus Klitschko: Just a fantasy?

 After doing everything he could to avoid getting in the ring with one of the Ukrainian brothers for the last two years—this after demanding a showdown with Wladimir when he made the jump up from cruiserweight—WBA paper champion Haye is now doing his best to convince the world (with the help of his UK press cheerleaders like The Guardian’s obsequious Kevin Mitchell) that he is doing the The Ring magazine heavyweight champ a favor by accepting his 50-50 contract offer for a heavyweight showdown.

“Despite the fact we know we bring more UK television money to the table, David and I are happy to split the entire pot 50-50 and grant Wladimir the deal he has wanted since day one,” says Haye mouthpiece and trainer Adam Booth. “We have offered them 50-50 on everything and now see no reason why this tremendous fight can’t happen. The path is clear.”

So now we are to believe it is Haye, who holds one belt (the legitimacy of which is questionable) who is lowering his standards to offer Wladimir Klitschko—who holds the IBF, IBO and WBO belts as well as the The Ring magazine honor—the same 50-50 contract that Klitschko had already offered the Brit.

Sure, boys.

Haye, being his usual eloquent self, put it this way: “We agreed to 50-50 on everything, which they requested. We took away every possible excuse. There is no reason for this fight not to happen. I want to fight that big Russian prick next.”

Let’s hope a few months from now, Haye doesn’t tell us he was really talking about a rematch with Nicolay Valuev, who is very big—and actually Russian.

For their part, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko recently issued a statement in the German newspaper Bild that promised a showdown with Haye in 2011.   

“We want this fight at all costs,” the statement read.  “[Haye] may choose which of us he wants to step into the ring to lose his world title.”

Now, Wladimir has gone further, claiming that a fight pitting either Klitschko brother against Haye is “an easy payday.”

“It doesn’t matter which one it is, both of us are far too big and strong for David Haye, who … is rated only in his own head – outside that nobody rates him,” said Wladimir.  “He will be nothing for us to beat. He will leave the arena embarrassed if he ever sets foot in the ring with us.”

“If” indeed.

Before anyone gets too excited, it should be remembered that we’ve heard all of this before. Haye has gone so far as to sign to fight Wladimir, only to pull out at the last moment with an “injury” that was never substantiated by any doctor’s report. 

And Haye has reiterated a number of times lately that he intends to retire next year before his 31st birthday whether he has fought a Klitschko or not.

So despite all of the talk and the promises, we are in reality no closer to the second biggest fight that can be made in boxing actually taking place. 

Talk, as they say, is cheap.

See you in 2011.

"Kap'n" Huck narrowly defeated Denis Lebedev

 

By Johnny Walker

WBO champion Marco “Kap’n” Huck of Germany today defended his WBO cruiserweight crown in a back-and-forth encounter with the previously unbeaten Denis Lebedev of Russia at the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, Germany.

The first half of the fight saw the challenger working the champion over with hard body shots, seen most vividly in round four, perhaps the Russian’s best round of the fight.  Huck was repeatedly hit with hard punches to the stomach and liver, and was slowing noticeably by the round’s end, despite the exhortations of his trainer, Ulli Wegner, to attack.

Huck was showing signs of desperation in round five, loading up and throwing haymakers that repeatedly missed their mark.  Lebedev’s southpaw stance was giving Huck fits, and the champion’s own style — usually squared up, with his guard held high a la Wegner’s other star pupil, Arthur Abraham — left the Russian an inviting open target to the midsection that he repeatedly went after with straight lefts.

Unfortunately for Lebedev, American referee Eddie Cotton Jr. decided to become perhaps overly involved, twice warning the Russian for low blows that appeared to be legal.  In such a tight fight, a point deduction could have been catastrophic, and Lebedev got away from his game plan after the second warning in the eighth round.

With Cotton’s help, Huck rallied in the last third of the fight, his best round perhaps being the 10th, where he scored with a hard right hand lead and a hard shot to Lebedev’s midsection.  Both fighters’ faces were marked up by this point, Lebedev perhaps getting the worst of it with a cut near his left eye.

Overall, this was a diffcult fight to score, as both fighters appeared wary of each other’s power and turned the proceedings into a chess match, with each fighter probing for ways to penetrate the other’s defences. 

Huck, however, seemed confident of a win by the 12th round, as he mostly danced away from Lebedev, who tried to press the action but was rapidly running out of steam.

Huck’s confidence in the judges was rewarded with a split decision victory, two judges seeing it 115-113, with one dissenter calling it for Lebedev, 112-116.

This writer had it 116-115 Lebedev, who can with some justification feel that he should still be undefeated.

An obese Solis (above) gassed early against a rubbery Ray Austin

By Johnny Walker

In a farcical WBC heavyweight eliminator Friday night, a tubby Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis prevailed in a surreal bout against an over-the-hill Ray “Rainman” Austin. 

Solis, 30, showed up for the bout in front of his Cuban fan base at Miami’s American Airlines Arena in woeful condition, weighing in at an obese 260 pounds on a 6’1″ frame.  Austin, 40, looked to be in better shape, being five inches taller and weighing 20 pounds less than his opponent, but it soon became clear that looks are often deceiving.

Incredibly, Austin looked to be on rubbery legs when the bell sounded for round one.  Nevertheless, as Solis waddled his ample girth around the ring, Austin was able to land enough pawing  jabs with the occasional straight right mixed in to take the round.

After the same pattern repeated itself in round two, Solis began to come alive in round three, landing some good left hooks to Austin’s face.  The Cuban gained momentum in round four, and by round five he had Austin in trouble.

After a series of hard shots from Solis in round five, the now Gumby-like Austin was sent tumbling to the canvas with a relatively mild left jab.  But Solis, in very poor condition, had shot his bolt for the evening, and was unable to close the show.

Austin remained rubbery-legged, but composed himself to win round six against the punched-out Solis.  The fight now resembled a couple of drunks fighting in an alley after closing time, as both men could barely stand up and were reduced to winging wild shots in the hope of quickly ending this heavyweight farce.

Ironically, as the announcers of this Don King-produced event took gratuitous and cheap shots at the Klitschko brothers, Austin and Solis were busy proving why, without a doubt, the Ukrainian siblings are heads and tails above the rest of the heavyweight division. 

One can imagine current WBC champ Vitali Klitschko laughing as he watched these two contenders for his crown lurching around the ring in exhaustion in rounds seven through nine.

The fight was closer than it should have been (this writer had it tied) going into round 10, when Solis managed to put a few punches together.  Austin was ready to go (he had been since the opening bell), but again Solis gassed, and the fighters staggered into the ropes in a punch-drunk embrace. 

Both men looked ready to fall over the ropes and out of the ring from sheer fatigue.  As they slowly recovered their balance (with help from referee Tommy Kimmons), the bell sounded to end the round, but Austin, apparently not knowing what was happening, turned and punched Solis in the face. 

This was deemed too much by Kimmons, who immediately disqualified Austin at 2:59 of round 10, handing the victory to Solis.

Solis, however, shouldn’t wolf down too many cheeseburgers in celebration of this Pyrrhic victory.  For a man 10 years younger than his opponent and heavily favored to win the fight, Solis now found that the three judges’ scores had the contest a stalemate at the time of the disqualification: 85-85, 88-82 for Solis and 86-84 for Austin.

It should never have been that close.

This was Solis’s night to shine, the biggest fight of his career, yet the Olympic gold medal winner chose to show up in pitiful condition, causing even his Cuban fans to start booing in round eight, as their lethargic fighter struggled to muster enough energy to throw a punch. 

In the build-up to this fight, Solis made much of the fact that he doesn’t care for boxing, that he isn’t even a fan of the sport.

Well, Odlanier, it showed. 

Boy, did it show.

Vitali Klitschko will sleep very soundly tonight.

Tomas Adamek had too much firepower for Vinny Maddalone

By Johnny Walker

Top heavyweight contender Tomasz “Goral” Adamek (43-1) of Poland destroyed Vinny Maddalone (33-6) Thursday night, outclassing the game journeyman from Queens, New York via a fifth round TKO.

Adamek, since entering the heavyweight division after a dominant career at cruiserweight, has had his ups and downs.  After destroying his semi-retired countryman Andrew Golota, Adamek had a not entirely convincing win over Jason Estrada, an impressive majority decision victory over the much bigger Cris Arreola, and a hanging-on-for-dear-life cliffhanger win over the even bigger Michael Grant.

Those waiting for Adamek to look totally dominant at heavyweight finally got their wish in his bout against Maddalone.

Looking less bulky in the upper body than he did last time out against Grant, Adamek used his superior speed to pepper the game but awkward Maddalone from the first round onward.  He doubled and tripled up on the jab, worked Maddalone’s midsection, and then went head-hunting with crisp combinations.

You name it, Adamek was throwing it at Maddalone, including the kitchen sink.

If Adamek showed any weakness in this fight, it was in his vulnerability to the left hook, which the less than speedy Maddalone nevertheless managed to land with some regularity.

But all the work Adamek was putting in, especially to the body, had Maddalone running on empty by round five, when a right-left combination following a wild miss by Maddalone saw the Queens native deposited to the mat.

From then on, it was a mere matter of time, as Adamek was determined to close the show and get his first stoppage as a heavyweight, peppering Maddalone with combinations to the body and head. 

Finally, and correctly, Maddalone’s corner had seen enough, and signalled to referee Steve Smoger to call an end to the fight at 2:17 of round five.

With this win, Adamek figures to be in the running for a title fight next year with one of the Klitschko brothers, possibly at Madison Square Garden in New York, which would benefit from the proximity of Adamek’s Polish fanbase in New Jersey, as well as that of the many Russian and Ukrainian fans of the Klitschkos residing in Brooklyn.

Perhaps the most tantalizing–and potentially winnable–heavyweight championship matchup for Adamek would be against Britain’s David Haye, in a battle of of ex-cruiserweight champions.

A fight between Adamek and Roy Jones Jr. has also been discussed, and some members of Team Adamek are apparently all for it, but if that were to take place, it would be a travesty and a waste of Adamek’s time — and at age 34, he hasn’t got all that much time to waste in what remains of his boxing career.

Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail in the Adamek camp: Adamek is too valuable a commodity in the current heavyweight scene to be taking part in credibility-destroying fights of the kind Haye just had with Audley Harrison.

By Johnny Walker

Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall eked out a split decision over “Fast” Fres Oquendo at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Tuesday night in a heavyweight fight that lacked sustained action and often seemed more like a glorified sparring session.

McCall, 45, of Martinsville, Virginia, a one-time WBC heavyweight champion, was busted for possession of cocaine in February of this year, and then came back to drop a unanimous decision to Timur Ibragimov in June. 

Oquendo, 37, of Chicago, Illinois, is heavyweight boxing’s hard-luck man, having lost very questionable decisions in the past to the likes of Chris Byrd and James Toney.

On this night, Oquendo’s bad luck dogged him once again. 

The fight was mostly marked by McCall plodding slowly forward and Oquendo parrying his advances and moving out of danger.  “Fast Fres” seemed to this writer to be getting the better of the action for most of the contest, landing cleaner and more frequent shots in a bout that mostly lacked any sense of rhythm.

McCall’s lurching forward movement often found him falling in too close to his opponent and unable to punch effectively.  He had a few moments of joy, however, such as in the 10th round when he cut Oquendo with a powerful left jab.  More often, he allowed himself to be tied up and negated. 

When the judges scores were announced, Oquendo’s worst fears were once again realized. 

Only judge Bill Ray (113-115) saw it remotely the way this writer did; judges Michael Pernick (115-113) and John Rupert (116-112) scored it for McCall.

The best action of the night, however, occured after the scores were read, when a brawl broke out in Oquendo’s very unhappy corner, which was incensed at their man’s continuing misfortune. 

Oquendo (32-7) himself stood in the ring with a look of disbelief on his face.

With the win, McCall (55-10) picked up the vacant IBF Inter-Continental heavyweight championship. 

Where either fighter goes from here—even in today’s relatively weak heavyweight division—is anybody’s guess.

Wladimir Klitschko (l) taunted Dereck Chisora with his belt collection

By Johnny Walker

Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora of the United Kingdom raised the trash-talking stakes today when he called the trainer of IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine an “Uncle Tom” during a pre-fight press conference for their upcoming title tilt this Saturday in Mannheim, Germany.

The final presser for the fight was very contentious, with Chisora exhibiting a near-total lack of respect for the champion and his legendary trainer Emanuel Steward.

Klitschko taunted Chisora with the belts at one point: “It’s a nice belt, huh?” he said as he waved a championship strap in Chisora’s face.  “You’ve been dreaming about it, huh?  You can take and play with [the belts], I don’t care about it,” Klitschko continued dismissively.

Chisora responded with a blistering verbal attack on the imposing champ.

“You want to be like Muhammad Ali and all the rest, but you will never buy greatness, because you are not that great.  That’s why you’re stuck in Germany, that’s why the other countries don’t want to watch you.  You can’t get a fight in Vegas, no one will pay to watch you in Vegas, because you stink up the joint,” claimed Chisora during his vicious verbal tirade.

“I guess your [ideal] opponent is your ex-girlfriend, who can’t punch back,” a steaming but calm Klitschko countered. 

Chisora was given a suspended sentence in November for an assault on his ex-girlfriend.

Things deteriorated as Chisora tried to argue that his ex-girlfriend is better looking than the champion’s current one (actress Hayden Panettierre), who Chisora described as being “three feet tall.”

Chisora also made the aforementioned racial slur toward Manny Steward, implying with the “Uncle Tom” label that the trainer is a race traitor, working to help a white European fighter defeat black opponents.

Steward was understandably furious. 

“Chisora is a horrible person . . . [but] I don’t have to motivate Wladimir. Chisora already made him mad and showed no respect towards him,” said the Kronk boxing legend. 

Klitschko ended by offering a few choice words in German, drawing a hearty laugh from the reporters present while Chisora frowned. 

Klitschko then turned toward Chisora with his final comment on the proceedings:

“Learn the languages, buddy!”

 
 

Dimitrenko is anxious to get in the ring with Sosnowski

By Johnny Walker

Universum Boxing Promotions of Germany has posted an official video of their fighter Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko’s collapsing, which happened in the dressing room right before he was scheduled to enter the ring to defend his European heavyweight title against Polish challenger Albert Sosnowski on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Schwerin, Germany.

The video first shows Dimitrenko walking woozily around the dressing room, and then jumps to footage of him collapsed on the floor as other fighters and security people mill around the area.

Dimitrenko has undergone a series of tests at Helios Klinik in Schwerin and will be having more testing done this week in Hamburg, Germany.  At this time, the exact cause of Dimitrenko’s frightening collapse remains unknown. 

“I apologize to the fans in the arena and watching on television, but I hope I’m healthy again quickly and can take this fight. I would like to defend my title against Sosnowski as soon as possible,” Dimitrenko said in a statement.

According to Universum, Dimitrenko retains his title, with the fight due to be rescheduled in the near future, Dimitrenko’s health permitting.

Sascha Dimitrenko collapsed to the floor of his dressing room

By Johnny Walker

The scheduled fight for the European heavyweight title between defending champion Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko and challenger Albert Sosnowski at the Sport and Congress Center in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, was cancelled tonight when Dimitrenko collapsed to the floor in the dressing room right before the bout.

Germany’s Sport 1 television network showed Dimitrenko sprawled on the floor in front of his chair, with his legs jammed under a nearby couch.  There was general confusion as to what had taken place, as other fighters on the card entered the area to rubberneck and then were ushered out by security.

Sosnowski, the Polish-born challenger now based in the UK, had lost last time out in a game effort against WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko.  He was interviewed by Sport 1 after the cancellation, and was clearly chagrined at the unfortunate turn of events. 

“I’m disappointed … it was two months of training,” said Sosnowski. 

Sosnowski, who expressed concern for Dimitrenko’s health, went on to say that, according to his information, the Germany-based Ukrainian champ had become “nervous” as the fight neared and had experienced some kind of attack. 

Sport 1 cameras showed Dimitrenko being wheeled out of the Center on a stretcher and into an awaiting ambulance.

According to Sosnowski, it is not yet known if the bout will be rescheduled or cancelled altogether.

Jean Marc Mormeck narrowly defeated Timur Ibragimov of Uzbekistan by split decision in a back-and-forth WBA heavyweight boxing encounter tonight at the Halle Carpentier in Paris.

While not unwatchable, the fight was marred at times by too much holding, as both fighters tired going in to the later rounds.  Suffice it to say that neither of the recognized heavyweight champs Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko will be shaking in his boots after viewing this bout; nor will WBA paper champ David Haye.

Ibragimov, 35, the WBA’s #7 ranked challenger for Haye’s belt, started off well, however, using his size advantage (being 6’3″ tall compared to Mormeck’s 5’11”) to bully the smaller fighter and lean on him whenever the opportunity presented itself, and also fighting nicely behind the left jab, his overall style reminiscent of Wladimir Klitschko‘s usual modus operandi. 

The 38-year-old Mormeck, ranked #12 by the WBA, came out aggressive, bobbing and weaving in Joe Frazier-like fashion, but in rounds one and two Ibragimov kept him at bay with a snappy left jab and some nice combinations to the body.

The third round saw both men warming to the task, with Ibragimov landing a hard right cross to Mormeck’s head, and Mormeck, still moving well, finally getting inside the jab to land a hard left hook of his own.  This seemed to inspire Ibragimov, who answered with an aggressive round four, bulling Mormeck into the corners and landing some crisp combinations to the body.  Mormeck did connect with a hard overhand right near the end of the round, too infrequent an occurrence for him thus far.

Rounds five through seven saw Mormeck change the momentum of the fight.   The shorter man began landing solid left and right uppercuts to Ibragimov’s chin with regularity, as the Uzbek retreated to ropes.  Although Ibragimov had not been seriously hurt, the cumulative effect of the French fighter’s blows had him in disarray, and it seemed a stoppage win for Mormeck might be in sight.

The tide turned yet again in round eight, however.  With the Parisian crowd sensing that a stoppage was close, they began chanting “MOR-MECK, MOR-MECK,” and their fighter tried to respond.  Ibragimov, however, had other ideas, opening with a solid combination to the head and body and leaning heavily on the now tiring Frenchman.  Ibragimov’s strategy of working over Mormeck’s body finally began to pay off, with the latter man visibly wilting by the end of the round. 

The ninth was Mormeck’s last effective round.  Still looking gassed, he nevertheless rallied, with some Tyson-esque determination enabling him to again slip inside and stun Ibragimov with an uppercut.  

The pendulum swung back yet again to the Uzbek in the tenth: a hard right to Mormeck’s ribs saw the Frenchman visibly sag, and a hard right cross to his jaw had him reeling. 

With Ibragimov now coming on strong, French referee Jean-Louis Legland interestingly picked this time to stop the fight and deduct a point from him for hitting behind the head.  Undaunted, Ibragimov continued to press, ending the round with a hard right to Mormeck’s by-now bruised torso.

The last two rounds saw both fighters tiring, with Mormeck definitely showing his age as he appeared utterly exhausted in his corner before heading out for round twelve.  Amidst a lot of holding mostly initiated by Mormeck, Ibragimov continued his focused assault to the Frenchman’s body, finally moving upstairs to land a combo to the head as Mormeck waited for the final bell to sound.

This writer had it 115-113 Ibragimov, reduced to 114-113 with the point deduction.  Judge Juan Manuel Garcia Reyes saw it much the same way (113-115 ), but Erkki Meronen (116-112) and Steve Weisfeld (116-111) disagreed, giving Mormeck the split decision win as the crowd went wild and Ibragimov pondered his first loss in ten fights.

Mormeck wins the previously vacant WBA International Heavyweight title with this victory — but of course, that is not the title coveted by heavyweights with any degree of ambition.

Mormeck’s name has been tossed around as the next opponent for heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko after his upcoming bout with England’s Dereck Chisora, but based on this performance, one where he was often either eating the larger man’s left jab or getting pushed around by him, the 215-pound former cruiserweight champion would be in very tough against the Ukrainian star.   

Ibragimov, because of his larger frame and more defensive style, might actually fare a little better than Mormeck against Wladimir, but with this loss, that matchup now appears highly unlikely. 

Fans of the heavyweight division, then, can only hope this Saturday’s Alexander Dimitrenko – Albert Sosnowski matchup provides a bit more clarity as to who might ultimately provide a real challenge to the Klitschko brothers, as Mormeck – Ibragimov ultimately left things as muddled as ever.