by Cliff Rold
On paper, it looked like one of the worst Heavyweight title matches in decades. In the ring, it was worse than that.
35-year old lineal World Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko (57-3, 50 KO) of Kiev, Ukraine, made easy work of 39-year old former World Cruiserweight Champion (36-5, 22 KO) of Pantin, Seine-Saint-Denis, France on Saturday night at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany, en route to a fourth round knockout. Post-fight statistics indicated Mormeck went more rounds than he landed punches. He didn’t throw many more. It was as undignified an effort as one could see. Klitschko retained his Ring Magazine, IBF, WBO, and WBA Super belts.
Klitschko came in at a typically fit 244 ¾, Mormeck considerably lighter at 216 lbs.
As is always the case for Klitschko fights in Germany, fans got their money’s worth in terms of spectacle. A laser light show and rocked out ring entrances brought the men to the ring. National anthems from France and the Ukraine echoed throughout a stadium hushed in respect. Announcer Michael Buffer brought them back to their feet with a little “Let’s Get ready to Rumble.” Towering almost seven inches over the 5’11 ½ challenger, Klitschko literally stared down his nose at the task in front of him as referee Luis Pabon brought them to ring center for final instructions, wishing them “Good luck and God Bless.”
It was everything Heavyweight title fights can ask for when measured by pageantry. There was little entertainment to be had from there.
Klitschko came out with left extended, Mormeck slipping and coming forward without much in the way of offense. Klitschko used his arms to lock Mormeck up and push down on his head, drawing an early caution from Pabon. A Klitschko left was muffled by the guard of Mormeck. The champion started to warm up his jab and right hand and continued to hold and press Mormeck down inside. It drew a second, longer caution from Pabon.
Through it all, Mormeck hardly threw a punch and, according to punch stats, landed none in the first round.
Mormeck might have landed a weak jab to the belly in the first minute of round two. He quickly returned to covering up and wading close to Klitschko where the risk of being stopped would be limited. At distance on the outside, Klitschko landed a blistering right and Mormeck was dropped to his knees.
The Frenchman rose and nodded he could go on, quickly reaching to hold and then returning to an earmuff defense. As the second wore on, Klitschko began to land rights and lefts around the guard, driving Mormeck to the ropes but the challenger kept his feet and made it to the corner.
Round three quickly settled into the same hapless nonsense that had been the case in the previous two frames. Mormeck, with his hands held high, played the part of heavy bag and Klitschko got his work in. With just less than a minute to go, Mormeck actually threw a punch, a slapping right over the top in the clinch. Mormeck drew a warning from Pabon and they shortly returned to close quarters. Grappling inside, Klitschko toppled forward onto Mormeck while Mormeck held him around the waist. Mormeck stayed on the floor for a few seconds before Pabon lent him a hand to rise. While Mormeck caught his breath, Pabon issued a wordy caution to Klitschko.
Klitschko ended the farce a minute into round four. Sticking a quick jab, the champion blasted Mormeck with a right and followed with a sharp left. Mormeck was sent to the floor for a second time and didn’t make much of a move to rise until the count of eight. He rose at ten and Pabon waved it off at 1:12 of round four.
Klitschko celebrated his fiftieth knockout win to the joy of some 50,000 ticket buyers. Mormeck could be seen giving him a round of applause as well. It was the most the challenger had moved his hands all night.
The result was a reminder of how undeserving Mormeck had been of a title shot, having come in off of a lengthy layoff and with only three pedestrian wins in the Heavyweight division since a 2007 Cruiserweight title loss to David Haye. Mormeck surely had a thrilling run at 200 lbs. but it was over years ago. The division hadn’t seen a match this bad since Larry Holmes killed time with fighters like Marvis Frazier and Lucien Rodriguez.
However, it was also a reminder of how thoroughly Klitschko and his brother Vitali (44-2, 40 KO) have cleaned out the Heavyweight division that someone so unwilling to actually try anything to win the fight could be an option. There are a number of rising contenders in the division, but most appear unready and unwilling to challenge the twin kings of the class.
Klitschko explained his ample use of clinching as a tactic to not allow Mormeck to push him backwards in the televised post-fight interview and gave Mormeck credit for at least taking the fight. Klitschko refuted the notion that he’s run out of challengers, pointing to British bangers David Price (12-0, 10 KO) and Tyson Fury (17-0, 12 KO), Russian WBA beltholder and former Olympic Gold Medalist Alexander Povetkin (24-0, 16 KO), and Americans Seth Mitchell (24-0-1, 18 KO) and Chris Arreola (35-2, 30 KO).
He didn’t mention 40-year old IBF mandatory Tony Thompson (36-2, 24 KO) but that bout may loom this year as well. Thompson has won five in a row by stoppage since a spirited knockout loss to Wladimir in 2008.
Of the bunch given air, Arreola has previous experience with the family, stopped in nine by Vitali in 2009. Arreola since has lost to former Cruiserweight Champion Tomasz Adamek, and has yet to defeat a recognized contender in the division, but may be the most likely of those mentioned to receive an opportunity this year. Arreola rides a seven-fight win streak with five stops and brings personality with his aggression.
Price and Mitchell have yet to move into serious contention, with Mitchell the closer of the two at the moment. Tyson Fury has a solid win over a Dereck Chisora who gave Vitali a solid fight in defeat two weeks ago and continues his steady development. Povetkin, of all named, has the most quality wins but is recovering from a narrow escape against WBO Cruiserweight titlist last week and has, in the past, been reluctant to pursue a Klitschko fight.
In other words, with now fifteen consecutive wins since a knockout loss to Lamon Brewster in 2004, long live the king.
The card was televised in the U.S. on Epix and webcast on EpixHD.com, promoted by K2 Promotions.
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]