By Frank Warren
Wladimir Klitschko emphatically established himself as the best heavyweight on the planet last weekend with a landslide points win over leading contender Alex Povetkin at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow.
‘Dr Steelhammer’ retained by margins of 15 points on all three official cards. However, I was left feeling the giant Ukrainian missed a trick by failing to transform his obvious dominance into the kind of explosive performance that enhances legacy.
Opponent Povetkin, a highly touted former Olympic champion who entered unbeaten in 26, showed astonishing courage but shouldn’t have been allowed to make it to the finishing post.
By round seven, he’d been clubbed to the canvas four times and was tottering on leaden legs but Klitschko showed scant inclination to terminate the fight and leave an exclamation mark.
Big Wlad provided further fodder for the cynics who dub him ‘Klinch-ko’ by repeatedly smothering, leaning and cuddling his way to a tedious decision, which finally lead to the ref eventually deducting a point.
Povetkin’s Russian promoters had secured home turf for their man but it was Klitschko who looked like he was the homeboy.
At least two of the four accredited knockdowns came from dubious pushes and by the time Klitschko was finally docked a point for excessive shoving in round eleven, it had long ceased to be a competitive spectacle.
The bang-up had been billed as the biggest threat to Klitschko hegemony for several years but the champion’s overt caution deprived fans of the entertainment they’d paid huge sums for and further damaged the flagging image of our sport’s blue riband division.
Wlad deserves a big up for ironing out the defensive deficiencies that brought three stoppage defeats during his 20s.
Now 37, he always arrives for battle in pristine physical fettle and serves as a fine ambassador for our sport beyond the ropes.
But his dour ‘jab ‘n’ grab’ ring manner and indifference to the rules of fair play exclude him from my list of the top ten heavyweights of all time.
Despite his imposing stature, I feel several of the past greats such as Liston, Frazier, Holyfield and Tyson possessed both the speed and nous to slide beneath Wlad’s formidable jab and work his body; something he has long struggled to cope with.
But, other than his aging brother Vitali, who is currently out there to threaten Klitschko’s seven year reign?
America is pinning its hopes on Alabama’s Deontay Wilder, a crude but wickedly violent puncher who has iced all 29 pro victims inside four rounds.
From the home front, spats against the winner of Tyson Fury against David Haye next February, or against my slim line and resurgent European champion Dereck Chisora, would generate huge revenue and interest in the UK.
Regardless, boxing badly needs a fresh poster boy who can restore the division from its present slumber and again get the biggest heavyweight fights dominating the sports pages where they belong.
You couldn’t help but be impressed with Anthony Joshua’s professional debut last weekend, before a quarter filled O2 Arena in the London Docklands.
The 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight gold medallist, still only 23, displayed commendable composure both throughout the build up and between the ropes. He looks a thoroughbred.
Italian opponent Emanuele Leo arrived unbeaten in eight but predictably capitulated the first time he was clipped clean. Within three minutes, he was prostrate and receiving oxygen from the paramedics. Cultivated right hands caused the carnage.
The queue to face Big Josh will be short but one pug anxious to put himself into the frame via the social media networks is Brixton heavyweight Dillian Whyte.
The 25 year old, who styles himself as ‘The Villain’, dropped and outpointed Joshua in the amateurs. However, after winning nine straight as a pro, he is presently serving a two year ban after a doping infringement. Expect that one to stew for a while.
You can never accurately predict the path of heavyweight prospects until you’ve seen how they respond to being clipped on the whiskers themselves.
However, Josh, who turned down a guaranteed £1million for his first year as a pro with me to sign with Matchroom, should evolve into a championship grade fighter within two years.
In the formal bill topper at the O2, Bury super-bantam Scott Quigg successfully came through a first defence of his WBA crown, even though he is still to win a world title fight.
The 24 year old Lancastrian – recently upgraded from ‘interim’ champion to full title holder without throwing a punch – carved out a majority 12 round draw against quick and skilful Cuban Yoandris Salinas.
It was the proverbial fight of two halves, with Quigg overly conservative in the opening six rounds before belatedly hitting the accelerator down the stretch.
It was undeniably close but I felt Scott just deserved the nod. He won his rounds more clearly, almost forcing a stoppage during the final quarter with spiteful body shots.
Quigg confirmed he has the class and stamina to compete at elite level. If the WBA insist on a rematch, I’d expect the English lad to dominate it.
Even more appetizing though would be a domestic dust-up with reigning European champion Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton from Belfast.
Norway looks set to lift its 32-year ban on professional boxing next week with the incoming leaders of the new government.
Surprisingly there will be a restriction though, the fight length will have to be a maximum of 12 minutes and the boxers will have to use head guards.
Argentine hero Sergio Martinez will be the first fighter to have a meeting with a serving Pope since Muhammad Ali.
The WBC World Middleweight Champion and top three pound-for-pound best will meet with fellow countryman Pope Francis at the Vatican to talk about his anti-bullying and domestic violence against women campaign.
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