by David P. Greisman
So, this is what it’s come to.
A voluntary defense against undersized, over-the-hill, outgunned, inactive, and out of his element.
Jean Marc Mormeck is 5-foot-11, 39 years old, a former cruiserweight who had not fought in 15 months, more than a year removed from this third consecutive win over unexemplary heavyweight opposition.
Wladimir Klitschko is bigger, younger, stronger and better. He is 6-foot-6, 35 years old, with knockout power, athleticism, skills and smarts that have stopped and stymied his opponents — that have made and kept him heavyweight champion.
The good news is that Klitschko kept the bout brief against a challenger who entered the ring an overwhelming underdog, and who would leave the ring quickly after giving himself even less of a chance than those who set the odds.
Mormeck spent about 10 minutes within the ropes and between the bells. He was credited with throwing 19 punches over the course of three-and-a-half rounds. He landed three.
Klitschko got his fastest win in nearly five years. He threw 135 punches and landed 39, 13 of those jabs, 26 of those power shots, including the paralyzing right cross that left Mormeck teetering, the discombobulating left hook that ensured he was toppling, and then one more right hand to sweep away what had just shattered.
That was good news, considering that this is what it’s come to — the superior Klitschko brothers against inferior challengers on some nights, and against capable but completely outclassed opponents on the rest.
This is not the Klitschkos’ fault. They have faced foe after foe, defeating all — 15 wins since 2004 for Wladimir, nine wins since Vitali returned in 2008 from retirement. Those 24 wins are over 22 challengers, only a few of whom, if even that many, actually presented a challenge.
It is not their fault that they are so good, and that they are so good at making their opponents’ look so bad. It wasn’t necessary, though, for Wladimir to use the same cautious tactics against Mormeck early, often clinching and pushing down on the shorter fighter to neutralize him and minimize any thought Mormeck might have had about throwing punches from in close.
This is what they do: use their height well in tandem with their underrated defensive movement. They become so hard to hit that the opponents are rendered offensively impotent, and all the while they are battered into submission or sent canvas-bound.
They have taken on mandatory challengers and young contenders. And when those foes fall flat, they make voluntary defenses, still bringing in tens of thousands into arenas and stadiums.
Mormeck fell, no pun intended, in the same class of “dead men walking” against Wladimir as Lamon Brewster in 2007 and Hasim Rahman in 2008. He lasted twice as long as Ray Austin in 2007 but was equally effective, which, in both cases, amounts to next to nothing.
It was bad news for anyone expecting excitement, but it shouldn’t have been any new news to anyone who follows the sport and recognized that it wasn’t a question of whether Mormeck stood a chance, but rather how long he’d remain standing.
The good news is Klitschko didn’t keep him standing long. The better news is the foes can get better.
The Klitschkos have beaten so many different heavyweights that the selection of opposition cycles between three options: new, young challengers working their way up the ranks and hurried into title shots because they’re fresh faces; former opponents who have already faced one Klitschko and have either earned a rematch or are getting a shot at a different style match-up with the other; and no-hopers, men who either are years removed from the top or who never came close to reaching it.
Vitali, at 40, might be closer to retirement than his younger brother. But for the moment, both can face what aging champions always will have — the next person coming up and calling them out.
This year, it could be three former foes: For Wladimir, it could be Tony Thompson (who lost to him in 2008) or Chris Arreola (who lost to Vitali in 2009). For Vitali, it could be David Haye (who lost to Wladimir last year). There are other names, of course, all of whom believe that theirs is the one that will replace “Klitschko,” that theirs is the name that will rise up the rankings where others have been felled.
Next year, it could be Seth Mitchell, if he follows the course his team has laid out for him.
This is what it’s come to. We no longer anticipate the next challenger — we tend to know how it’s going to end. We are pleasantly surprised when the competition actually proves competitive, when Tony Thompson made Wladimir work for it in 2008, when Dereck Chisora made Vitali work for it last month, even though both won their respective bouts with relative ease.
We wonder if Thompson will do better in a rematch, or of Arreola and Chisora can give Wladimir more trouble than they gave Vitali, or if Haye can actually put his words into action against Vitali. We wonder, but we also know the Klitschkos can make certain that it won’t be so.
It is not their fault that they are so good, and that they are so good at making their opponents look so bad.
We wait for who’s next — and hope for the best.
The 10 Count
1. “The fight was stopped too early,” Jean Marc Mormeck said following the fight, according to Alexander Pavlov of Sportbox.ru.
The fight could’ve been stopped before the first bell even rang — and the referee still would’ve been right.
2. The WBC’s indefinite suspension of Dereck Chisora wouldn’t seem like such a problem if not for the sanctioning body’s inconsistency and grandstanding.
Given the sanctioning body, neither of those attributes should come off as a surprise.
Chisora drew the ire of the WBC and the British and German athletic commissions followed a series of incidents, from slapping Vitali Klitschko at their pre-fight weigh-in and spitting water in Wladimir Klitschko’s face just before the bout to brawling with David Haye at the post-fight press conference.
The WBC’s news release said “the misconduct of Derek [sic] Chisora … is considered one of the worst behaviors ever by a professional boxer.”
The WBC will suspend Chisora, but not Antonio Margarito or Mike Tyson?
3. I brought up the Tyson question to a WBC spokesman or spokeswoman — the person who responded via the WBC’s Twitter account refused to provide a name, saying “We are different people at times. We aren’t allowed to give our names due to our personal lives. People can be very rude to us, that is why.”
His or her answer: “The WBC only intervenes in boxing related matters: the ring and official ceremonies. Everything else is the local authorities to do something about. When Tyson fought Lewis it was a publicity event and not an official WBC ceremony. We believe that personal issues should be analyzed by the police.”
Presumably, this spokesperson was referring to the media event in which Tyson bit Lennox Lewis’ leg.
In this case, then, the WBC’s issue could only be with Chisora’s behavior at the weigh-in and in the ring, since the post-fight press conference is out of its jurisdiction. In this case, the WBC’s characterization of Chisora’s behavior is only due to the slapping and the spitting.
Even if it were to include the brawl with Haye, the WBC would have to acknowledge that Haye struck Chisora first.
4. This rang as hollow as the last time the WBC saddled its high horse over a heavyweight boxer’s behavior, when it suspended Chris Arreola from its rankings and from fighting for its world title for six months, all because of the expletives he let fly following his stoppage loss to Vitali Klitschko.
Chisora will reportedly get a hearing before the WBC. Expect another case of bringing a fighter in to kiss the proverbial ring. And expect another case of the WBC handing the fighter a meaningless penalty, a suspension that’s meaningless given the time until Chisora could earn another title shot — never mind the fact that there are sanctioning bodies whose titles he can still fight for in the meantime.
The penalty never comes until after the WBC has gotten its money from the fighter and has no more use for him in the short term. This way it can say that it is standing for certain principles, all while continuing to get rich off the fighters’ hard work and pain.
It’s not like the WBC would’ve said anything had Chisora defeated Klitschko…
5. I can understand the reported reasoning why Showtime wasn’t interesting in paying for a fight between Lucian Bute and Carl Froch.
I just can’t agree with it.
Showtime invested in Bute, signing him to a multi-fight deal in November 2010, a deal that brought him onboard at about the same time as the network’s other investment in the super-middleweight division, the “Super Six” tournament.
The premise, of course, was that Bute would face the winner. Froch didn’t win the tournament. Andre Ward did, besting Froch in the finale.
Showtime wanted Ward vs. Bute, or, barring that, Bute vs. Andre Dirrell — not Bute vs. Froch.
But if the network’s not going to get Ward-Bute just yet — and that didn’t seem too likely with Ward recovering from a hand injury and Ward’s negotiating stance for such a showdown — then isn’t Bute vs. Froch the next best thing?
Bute vs. Froch, which is set for May 26 in the United Kingdom, is expected to be an entertaining bout, one that will still involve two of the three best 168-pound fighters in the world.
And, as others have noted, it’s a much, much, much better use of money than some of the other fights the network is buying.
6. I do love a pair of rematches Showtime has spent money on — this weekend’s second tilt between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez is one of two fights I’m most looking forward to this month (the other being Erik Morales vs. Danny Garcia), and then there’s June’s sequel between Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz.
I know there’s been a change in leadership at the network, but I still believe Showtime’s focus should be on fights instead of fighters. We shouldn’t see dates guaranteed to fighters with “TBA” listed as the opponent. We shouldn’t see bouts aired on any network unless it’s worth the viewers’ time.
If it’s worth the viewers’ time, it’s worth the networks’ money.
7. Boxers Behaving Badly update, part one: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will be facing three misdemeanor charges related to his January arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to TMZ.com.
Two of those counts are related to his allegedly being under the influence, the third for his not having a valid driver’s license, the website reported.
Chavez Jr., 26, is 45-0-1 with 31 knockouts. He last fought Feb. 4, out-pointing Marco Antonio Rubio in a fight that came just two weeks after his arrest.
8. Boxers Behaving Badly update, part two: Prosecutors in Kansas have dropped drug charges against former heavyweight titleholder Tommy Morrison, according to The Wichita Eagle.
Morrison, 43, had been arrested in March 2010 while sitting in his parked vehicle outside of a gym. He would later be charged with one count of possessing marijuana with a prior conviction and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia, the newspaper reported. Morrison had a preliminary court hearing scheduled for Feb. 22, but instead the charges were dropped that day.
A similar case against Morrison stemming from 2011 also ended with charges being dropped.
Morrison won a heavyweight world title in 1993 with a decision victory over George Foreman, only to lose it four months later in a first-round stoppage loss to Michael Bentt.
He spent more than a decade out of the sport from 1996 to 2007 for what has been said to be a positive test for HIV. Morrison fought once in 2007 and once in 2008, raising his record to 48-3-1 (42 knockouts).
9. Boxers Behaving Badly: A Nicaraguan heavyweight who of late had been a measuring-stick opponent is being sought by police in his home country for allegedly shooting and killing a man last month.
Quinn, 28, is accused of firing eight bullets at the man while inside a restaurant in the port city of Bluefields, according to Nicaraguan news outlets La Prensa and Nueva Ya (with translation help from a friend). The victim had apparently wounded one of Quinn’s relatives in a shooting last year.
Quinn last fought in May 2011, losing via first-round knockout to Seth Mitchell. His record of 20-6-1 (18 knockouts) also includes defeats against Kali Meehan and Sergei Liakhovich.
10. Were you wondering why Joan Guzman was wearing a bulletproof vest to the ring on last week’s episode of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights”?
It’s to keep from being a shot fighter…
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
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