By A.C. McCoy (updated classic rewind edition)
Conspiracy theorists were on the prowl when the shocking upset of Wladimir Klitschko took place on April 10 of 2004. For nearly five rounds, Klitschko was handing Lamon Brewster a savage beating until suddenly, Klitschko found himself with an empty tank. It was as if life itself had been snatched from his body in a blink of an eye. The 11 to 1 underdog Brewster, a relatively unknown fighter at the time and on the verge of being stopped, suddenly found himself being crowned the new WBO heavyweight champion.
With Brewster pulling off the upset, Don King became owner to three of the four major heavyweight titles and it put him in the driver's seat of the heavyweight division. At several media events for the fight, Don King was laughing and predicting that Brewster would knock out Klitschko. Does that mean the conspiracy theorists are on the right path? Could it be Don King had knowledge that most of us did not? The FBI is investigating various figures in boxing and indictments are allegedly on the way, could the conspiracy theorists be on to something?
In the last few years, we have heard a lot about fixed fights in the sport of boxing. You would have to be deaf and blind not to have heard, seen or read about these type of allegations. With Klitschko being an 11 to 1 favorite to win the bout against Brewster, maybe the conspiracy theorists are closer to the truth than we would like to believe or could it be their imagination has gotten the better of them. Lets take a closer look at some of the allegations that were swirling for months after the fight;
-Don King paid off Referee Robert Byrd and Emmanuel Steward.
-Emmanuel Steward put forth the wrong fight strategy on purpose because he hates the Klitschkos.
-Wladimir Klitschko was poisoned.
-Universum set Wladimir Klitschko up because the Klitschkos were going to switch promotion companies.
-Wladimir Klitschko is a diabetic.
-Fritz Sdunek was pissed off at his new position as the ringside water boy and over trained Klitschko with intent.
-Wladimir spent himself while warming up with big brother, Vitali prior to the fight.
-The Russian Mafia threatened the Klitschkos, thus forcing Wladimir to throw the fight.
-The Klitschkos purposely threw the fight because Wladimir was 11 to 1 favorite and that is a whole lot of money to be made.
-Wladimir Klitschko had sex with three different women the day prior to the fight, thus the reason he had no legs.
-Wladimir was unable to sweat because his pores were clogged from too much Vaseline.
And it goes on and on. Some were down right absurd, although some may have had some merit. I will explain:
Would Emanuel Steward take a back seat to Freddie Roach? Lets say hypothetically Emanuel was pushed to the side and Lennox Lewis brought Freddie Roach in as a second trainer. Would Steward be able to swallow his pride, being reduced to the ring corner water boy? Would Steward be able to take that embarrassment? I don't think he could, or would. I don't think Steward would remain in the Lewis camp. Do any of you?
Now lets deal with reality. Fritz Sdunek had been the trainer for the Klitschko brothers since day one. In my opinion Sdunek is very under rated as a trainer in the United States. How much humility do you think it took for Sdunek to step aside and allow Steward to take over his position, reducing Sdunek to nothing more than a glorified water boy? And that is how it looked Saturday night at the Mandalay bay. I am not implying Sdunek did anything improper, all I am doing is pointing out the obvious situation that was viewed after the fight.
It was no secret that the Klitschko brothers were attempting to get out of their contract with Universum. They were engaged in a court battle in Germany to do just that. Why would their long time trainer Fritz Sdunek make comments prior to bout, which told Wladimir to retire if he lost?
Then there is the diabetic theory. I am not a doctor, but I am a diabetic and I know that with one simple blood test they would have known whether or not Wladimir was a diabetic. The idea that it would take several days to come to that conclusion is absurd. In the need to lose weight, could Ephedrine have been used, and caused the collapse of Klitschko? The Ephedrine rumor was floating around for a few days after the fight. Is there any validity to this theory?
Most of these conspiracy theories are totally baseless and without merit, not deserving to be repeated. Yet a few do make valid objections and deserve a second look.
Perhaps Larry Merchant was right when he said that Klitschko didn't have the strongest chin there is, but he doesn't have the weakest either. After everything is said and done, the truth comes down to the fact that Wladimir simply punched himself out, he didn't pace himself in the early going of the bout.
Then there is the ' Don King is involved' theory. I know many distrust Don King. Anything can and will happen in a Don King fight. Don't take me wrong people, I like Don, I think he puts on some of the best fights in the world. But let us not forget, he is Don King and strange things always seem to happen when Don is involved. King has said many disparaging remarks about the Klitschkos, like the remarks he made last year on the Jimmy Kimmel show.
I have met both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko. They are good hearted, kind and trusting young men. Maybe they are too trusting. They have had Tommy Brooks, Freddie Roach and Emanuel Steward and Fritz Sdunek, as trainers in the last three years. Maybe the heavy amount of trainers and the court battle with Universum, not to mention their move to California, contributed to the fall of Wladimir Klitschko.
What was once a bright and promising career for Wladimir Klitschko has turned into a dark corner filled with uncertainties. His critics said he was never any good and was merely a 6 round fighter. That he was a quitter and has no heart. These statements are not and were never true, as Wladimir proved his critics wrong in his recent decision win over Samuel Peter. He went the full twelve rounds, he came off the canvas three times and he never gave up.
Only Wladimir Klitschko knows what is in his heart and only Wladimir Klitschko knows what is in his future. If his heart is truly full of the fear of losing, he should walk away. But if he has the mind of a champion, he will continue to move forward and vindicate himself.
A.C. McCoy is a freelance journalist who resides in Louisville, Kentucky.