It’s fair to say that many boxing fans aren’t exactly enthralled by the heavyweight division right now.
Wladimir Klitschko, the ruler of the division, holder of three of the recognised world titles, RING and TBRB champion, may well be an excellent boxer and he may be able to pack stadiums and bring in huge TV ratings but outside of his powerbase in Continental Europe there is a certain wave of antipathy that greets that the announcement of an upcoming bout. As things stand he is head and shoulders… literally and figuratively… above most of those who wish to challenge him and it would take a very brave or very foolish man to believe that his latest challenger, Australian, Alex Leapai, will be anything but overmatched. Now, there can be a certain joy… albeit a perverse and sadistic one… in watching an overmatched opponent be defeated in boxing but Wladimir’s current style, a triumph of effectiveness over emotion, robs most bouts of even that. His last victory, a one-sided decision over Alexander Povetkin, may have featured four knockdowns and some of the most one-sided scorecards I can recall seeing but it also featured 160 clinches, almost all initiated by the Ukrainian champion and the reaction from most fans in the English-speaking world fell somewhere between ambivalence and outright hostility. Put simply, people want there to be a boxer… any boxer… who can challenge Wladimir and actually stand a chance.
Some thought Haye could… he couldn’t.
Some thought Povetkin could… he couldn’t.
No-one thinks Leapai can… and I doubt he will.
But Odlanier Solis just might… and this weekend he has a chance to prove it.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr said that in the buildup to his rematch with Brian Vera that he was reinventing himself both proffesionally and personally. Gone were the old bad habits, the lax training, the poor diet, the smoking of questionable substances. In were discipline and control.
And from the way hes started boxing this bout, he wasn’t just reinventing his life, he was reinventing his style.
No-one can question Ricky Burns heart, desire or effort.
But the simple truth in boxing is that sometimes, regardless of how often you watch Rocky, heart, desire and effort alone aren’t enough.
American challenger Terence Crawford came to Scotland and ripped Burns’ WBO 135lbs title from his grasp with a performance that combined speed, slickness, skill and a surprising amount of aggression. It was a total performance from Crawford, the sort those who have been watching him for a while have been calling for and despite Burns’ best efforts he simply couldn’t match his opponent.
James DeGale told us he was finally healthy, injury free and able to perform on the level we’d hoped to see from him since he first turned pro six years ago.
On the evidence of this bout perhaps injuries aren’t the only thing holding DeGale back.
On paper (and Youtube footage) Gevorg Khatchikian appeared to be an accomadating opponent to showcase DeGale. Despite a 20-0 record there was very little depth there with his best victory being over an equally untested prospect who went on to lose five of the seven bouts he’s had since. Limited, slow and somewhat crude he never appeared to offer much of a threat to DeGale.
But he certainly had his moments. DeGale started the bout confidently, walking forward behind his jab, trying to counter the Armenian’s own punches and then hit the body when the pair came close. But in the second round he appeared to get overconfident, walking forward and throwing single shots as if he was looking for a spectacular one punch knockout. Khatchikian may not have been fluid or technical but he was willing, game and more than once he caught DeGale flush with right hands as DeGale’s defences failed him. The seventh round saw him land land a hard uppercut that went straight through DeGale’s defences and immediately followed up with an overhand right that staggered DeGale. Khatchikian wasn’t able to really follow up but DeGale as clearly hurt.