by Cliff Rold
It was, in the end, a joke.
The desire to see a compelling Heavyweight fight was, remains, strong. The hope that a fighter with the tools and talent of an Odlanier Solis could embrace those things and get himself into real condition was strong as well.
It was wasted hope. Solis is what he is and he is an overweight Heavyweight. When he stepped on the scale a few under 250 lbs. on Friday, some hailed that he was lighter than normal, that he’d taken a fight with Vitali Klitschko seriously.
It turned out he was just in better shape so far as being less fat, not to be confused with his best shape.
In this corner, a bold prediction was made. In the pre-fight report card, Solis was picked to win…
…a round. Maybe two.
He almost pulled off the former.
Fans looking for a good fight had to do what they’ve done for most of the last few years.
Look south (on the scale). That’s where Lucian Bute’s latest title defense at 168 lbs. comes in.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Klitschko B; Solis B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Klitschko B+; Solis B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Klitschko B+; Solis B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Klitschko A; Solis C/Post: A; F
Pre-Fight: Speed – Bute A-; Magee B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Bute A-; Magee B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Bute B+; Magee B+/Post: B; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Bute A; Magee B/Post: A; D
Yes, based on cleanly landed punches, Solis was winning about the first 2 and half minutes of the fight. Klitschko landed the only punch that mattered shortly after. A counter right swept across the top of Solis’s head near the temple, the Cuban’s left leg caught and buckled, and soon he was on the floor.
Was it the punch that did the damage?
It didn’t look like a very hurtful shot. Solis has since claimed a leg injury and medical reports seem to confirm that. A report that a Cologne Arena spokesperson knew of a pre-existing injury before the fight makes the matter look worse.
While purely speculative, there is no shaking the thought that Solis’s weight has had an impact here. He’s been as high as 271. Ligaments take greater wear and abuse when the body has too much weight. Solis, as a professional, as been rough on his body. It’s what makes the requests for a rematch with Vitali so laughable.
Solis has been quoted citing that Klitschko should understand the disappointment of being hurt in a loss. He’s right. The difference is that Klitschko never, ever, has shown up for a fight looking like he didn’t pay the price. He prepares to win properly. To borrow a cliché, to not prepare properly is only preparing to fail.
Klitschko looked angry at the time of the finish and he should have been. He put in a camp, worked hard, and didn’t get the reward of competition his preparation earned. Fans will readily cheer a fight where they know, almost 100%, who is going to win and a better fighter will respect the man who falls before him.
Klitschko, last year, faced a no hoper of limited talent in Albert Sosnowski. Sosnowski fell, as everyone knew he would. However, Sosnowski gave the best account of himself he could, showed up in the best shape he could muster, and went out on his shield. It was an effort fan and fighter could respect alike.
Solis could learn a lot from Sosnowski.
That’s what is so great about lower weight classes. More often than not, showing up in shape is a foregone conclusion. The added bonus of a spirited challenger like Brian Magee giving arguably the most talented and well rounded Super Middleweight in the world, Bute, a solid go after he does the work in the gym is a bonus.
Bute-Magee was a good fight, even if the winner was never really in doubt. Earlier in the day, another Irishman (Magee is Irish), Willie Casey, was felled in a single round by Solis’ former Cuban teammate Guillermo Rigondeaux. Casey was dropped three times in front of a rabid crowd that cheered him feverishly. Casey was outmatched but did the best he could. It was a short, honest prizefight.
That’s all we can ask.
Report Card Picks 2011: 6-1
Heavyweight: Solis, whose pro resume was barely enough to get ranked in the first place, limps out of the ten spot and makes room for Alexander Ustinov.
Super Middleweight: Bute remains at third despite looking fantastic on Saturday. His resume is too thin on quality to move ahead of Froch and, since Ward’s one truly outstanding win is Froch’s lone defeat, the overall pecking order remains for the time being. This will all be worked out in the ring soon enough.
Jr. Featherweight: Guillermo Rigondeaux enters at ten, a strong follow up to a hit and miss performance against Ricardo Cordoba last year.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]