Klitschko vs Thompson II: "It takes a genius"Written by Marc Livitz
The trend has become beyond commonplace to set professional athletes upon an unshakable pedestal which often results in overexposure and being branded as yesterday's news.
A year or so passes between each respective crowning of NFL, NBA, NCAA, NHL and other sporting champions. The Sweet Science is not afforded such a luxury, whether a titleholder is dropped for the ten count and thereby becomes a one and done slugger or a promoter or group of piggish and grabby individuals do their best to stymie any match ups that have the potential to be the talk of folklore.
Not so long ago, the heavyweight champion of the world was perhaps not the first sporting designation to roll off of the lips of fans around the world, but in many areas it was not so far behind. Recent memory needs to be charged and yet recharged if one is to remember the last time it could quickly recall the current distinguished gentleman in the unlimited poundage section of the pugilistic periodical.
One score and two years ago, an unknown heavyweight from Columbus, Ohio shook (albeit briefly) boxing to its very core with a stunning upset of the single individual who could be identified at the time as the heavyweight champion of the world; the one and only "Iron" Mike Tyson.
No one wanted to believe it. Many were shocked and many were delighted as well. Of course, James "Buster" Douglas took to the way of the buffet and was quickly dispatched in three short rounds by Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas during his first title defense after his 1990 miracle in Japan.
Casino mogul Steve Wynn was so furious at Douglas for his lackluster effort that he considered an attempt at having Buster's ten figure purse being withheld. Holyfield went on to stage a trilogy with Riddick Bowe, a brace with Mike Tyson and various other shots given and taken in the ring.
He's gone away, but he's still there.
The wait continues for the great American heavyweight.
Baltimore's Hasim "The Rock" Rahman knocked out the great Lennox Lewis and reigned as the titleholder from America for a few short months in the early 2000's. There have been hints and glimpses of a once and future king from the States, but no true gold has definitively been sifted from the pan of Yankee pugilism.
Many had hoped that southern Californian Chris Arreola would finally break the streak of sheer Ukrainian dominance set forth by the Klitschko brothers. He was virtually shut out in front of a hometown crowd in the fall of 2009.
Courtesy of HBO
Is there an unwritten rule somewhere within the heavyweight pages of conduct which state that because there is no weight restriction within the division that the pressure to reduce poundage is but ring fodder? Regardless, somewhere there is likely an engraved edict of great stature that it is always in a fighter's best interest to stay fit.
"Amendment A" perhaps stresses the need to stay in fighting shape year round, if at all possible.
The heavyweight division was and in some ways still in such a swamp that the #2 rated heavyweight on the planet, Vitali Klitschko was able to take a four year sojourn from boxing (2004-2008) for injury related reasons and get an immediate title shot upon his return.
Wladimir (the younger brother) is ranked as the #1 heavyweight in the world and he takes on American Tony "The Tiger" Thompson today in Berne, Switzerland. Provided that those of us stateside are able to catch the contest live (EPIX HD or epixhd.com), be sure to expect a full house. Only a few fighters, American or otherwise can fill an arena in the USA. The Klitschko brothers usually stage their bouts in soccer stadiums with a capacity of 50,000 or more.
If our country's boxing masses were somewhat spoiled by the tenacity and vicious nature of Mike Tyson, then the brothers from Kiev don't exactly cream their Twinkie. They're methodical and they simply get the job done. They fully understand to no end that the work is the reward in itself and staying a champion is just a difficult as reaching the summit of world recognition and respect. They don't deserve to be slighted in any way for their dedication to the sport or their commitment to their vocation.
There have been other heavyweights of years gone by that were big and tall lumberjack types of boxers. Primo Carnera comes to mind.
Their height and size alone didn't provide much of an advantage in the end game and they were often made to look like tackle dummies once they climbed into the ring to face a superior foe.
The Klitschko brothers have performed so well that they embody the very purpose of the Sweet Science. Their chiseled appearance confirms their dedication to the sport as a job and not just a payday. Should the heavyweight class continue its current form, then many may perhaps feel that the pinnacle of the class was just too much to surpass.
Once the Klitschko brothers have definitively left the sport, the heavyweights of current and future may have more to worry about than just being a bore to watch.