AMERICANS AND BRITONS love to complain about the bad shape the current heavyweight division is in ("ABC" = "American and British Complainers").
"My god, how exciting was Mike Tyson. I wish he still would box!"
"And how wonderful Muhammad Ali was! These were truly the glorious golden boxers in the golden days of the golden age of the heavyweight division."
Interestingly ABCs mention only Ali and Tyson and then it pretty much ends right there.
ABCs usually cannot come up with any other exciting boxer except "Amazing Ali" and "Mental Mike" (and maybe Lennox).
When they talk about Ali they can only come up with a HANDFUL of Ali fights. Because *psst* let me tell you a secret: MOST of Ali's fights were borefests and stinkers and usually don't even feature proper knockdowns.
Johnny Carson (The Tonight Show): "This just in from the News Room… Muhammad Ali and Alfredo Evangelista have just been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – For Promoting Non-Violence in Professional Boxing"
The following clip is the first(!) round of Muhammad Ali vs Ron Lyle. It features the typical Clay-as-Clay-can style: neck grabbing, opponent pushing, rope hanging, reluctance to punch, you name it.
_THIS_ was the heavyweight championship of the world (WBC + WBA) in the 1970s. _THIS_ was the golden age.
However Mike Tyson is indeed more exciting than Wladimir Klitschko.
But that's because probably nobody in the history of boxing (past and future) will ever match Mike Tyson in terms of craziness and entertainment.
Nearly all of Tyson's fights were spectacular and ended in a KO (= either the opponent got KO'ed or Mike himself) or were exciting for other reasons.
No boxer prior to Mike and probably no boxer after Mike will ever be remembered for such a combination of
- and memorable quotes (yes, Mike Tyson is the boxer with the best boxing quotes of all time).
Compared to Mike Tyson's
out-of-the ring escapades (rape, cocaine, trashtalking, leg biting)
and in-ring madness (ear chewing, referee punching, riots)
ANY other boxer is boring
including Muhammad Ali and the Klitschkos
Emanuel Steward (top trainer and Hall-of-Fame inductee) nailed it:
"What made Mike Tyson so special was the way that he knocked people out so savagely.
The manner was like with the clock ticking, Mike got ten minutes and if he didn't knock out or kill this guy, someone was going to murder his loved ones and family, or something like that…
I don't think I've seen any heavyweight in my lifetime fight with that type of intensity, and very few fighters outside the division.
I remember one night on a Friday night, it must have been about 1989. I was out having a good time and I remember I told all of my friends I have leave and go home. They asked why I had to go, and I said because I got to go see Mike Tyson knock somebody out. They asked who he was fighting, and I said… I didn't even know who he was fighting and I didn't care, but that was the kind of excitement Mike Tyson created and I had never known anyone else to do that…
He had no socks, the little black shoes, and no robe. I mean it was totally different and we're still experiencing that today. It was totally the opposite of Muhammad Ali with the long pretty white robe, the white shoes, the pretty looks, and the dancing. Mike came out totally just the opposite."
"Boring Wladimir Klitschko sucks because he fights like a robot"
Americans/British Complainers (ABCs) and good-old-time nostalgists love to complain about Wladimir Klitschko's STYLE.
He fights like a one-dimensional stiff robot ("Klitbot", "Wladroid"), they say, and not like they would prefer him to fight.
You will always hear the same accusations:
- "Lack of inside game"
- "Lack of confidence on finishing"
- "Lack of combinations"
- "Lack of killer instinct"
- "Lack of feinting"
- "Missing footwork, ringmanship, ring IQ, talent, …"
- … you name it
All these complaints follow the same pattern:
- They accuse Wladimir Klitschko of not fighting like their favorite fantasy fighter ("Why didn't he throw any uppercuts?")
- They ignore that Wladimir Klitschko is the heavyweight with possibly the best heavyweights record of all time (= they complain about a winner)
- They ignore that Wladimir Klitschko is the best KO'er who ever lived. Leading (or at the very top) of core KO statistics like "KOs in world title fights", "KO'ratio", "unique KO'ratio", "streak KOs", "KOs against previously unKO'ed opponents", etc etc. Thus some of the complaints are nonsense by the bare look at it ("Wladimir Klitschko is reluctant to finish").
Therefore one or more of the following applies:
- The complainers utterly misjudge his footwork, ring IQ, instinct, speed etc…
- The complainers ask for a feature that would make Wladimir Klitschko LESS effective
- The complainers complain about single features but ignore to totality of the package
- The complainers will never be happy regardless of what Klitschko does.
You see, it could very well be that Wladimir Klitschko is such a top KO'er (arguably the best KO'er the boxing world has ever witnessed) BECAUSE he lacks certain features, for example because he DOES NOT use the uppercut. Thus before someone complains about perceived weaknesses he has to prove that, say, "lack of inside game" is actually a weakness. You see, it's strange that nearly all the other boxers with supposedly superior footwork and better ringmanship performed WORSE than him. There has hardly been a boxer with a greater dominance over his opponents than Wladimir Klitschko, thus it seems that "inside game" and "combinations" are rather the weaknesses (or substitutions to cover up weaknesses) not vice versa.
Or it could be that single features are indeed not well developed, yet are irrelevant because the whole package is such a high standard, that a missing feature wouldn't add much to it. I wouldn't doubt for a second that there have been (and will be in the future) boxers with a better footwork than Wladimir. But if they lack important other features even their superb footwork will fail. Thus in my view "Whole package > perfect single features"
It's nonsense to complain about someone
who keeps winning every round since years
and has compiled some of the best records in heavyweight history
"Boring Wladimir Klitschko sucks because we Americans know what a good boxing style is!"
Now we come to a very important difference between fans.
It's a difference of the way of HOW TO PERCEIVE and how to SCORE fights.
It's the boxing style perception of American/British Complainers (ABCs) -vs- the boxing style perception of the world fans.
I will give you typical examples of how Americans/Britons see a fights and how non-ABCs (= non-Americans and non-Britons like me) see a fight
Brawling > Boxing
Struggling > Dominating
Heart > Win
For me it's how a fight should NOT look like.
For me brawling is a proof that a boxer couldn't keep his opponent at bay.
For me it's a proof of limited boxing skills.
For me it's laughable to call Ali vs Frazier the heavyweight fight of the century.
For Americans a fight should be COMPETITIVE. For Americans slugfests with each boxer knocking the other down (Andre Berto vs Victor Ortiz) is pure entertainment ("A roller coaster of emotions").
For me skin-to-skin brawls hint at weak legs that a boxer tries to hide behind leaning on his opponent.
For me a knockdown-exchange means that the fight is inconclusive or that the winner was merely lucky (= in all the punch-after-punch drama he accidentally managed to come through with a bingo punch and it could have ended the other way around, too).
But what's worse: Americans prefer competitive fights on a mediocre level to non-competitive fights on a high level. Muhammad Ali's opponents (Ken Norton, George Chuvalo, Joe Frazier, …) were pretty mediocre by nowadays standards as shown by how simple George Foreman annihilated them. But since Ali was mediocre, too, these opponents are considered "superb" purely because they were involved in competitive fights with Ali.
"It is so difficult to be that boring. If you think about it, it's so difficult – to not get hit even once, and then knock the guy out in the end. That's the art of boxing and trust me it's not that simple. I understand the complaints, I understand the non-satisfaction of the fans, because it's probably more exciting to see both of the fighters getting hit and one of them going down and getting up and then the other one going down and getting up. There are some fights like that, but I've been in this sport for the past 17 years and I will continue to set my determination to make these fights one-sided, to win, and as I said to do it by knockout"
Chin > Fists
For Americans being able to TAKE punches is worth more than to KO somebody ("Chin > Fists").
A typical American statement would be "Wow, did you see what bombs landed on his chin? This guy is so tough! His opponent had no weapon against him!"
For me this is merely a proof of bad reflexes and a weak-punching opponent.
Americans often don't seem to score hits when the hits seem ineffective.
I know the judges' motto is "We score effective aggressiveness", which could mean that a judge could choose to ignore a landed punch when he deems the punch "not effective". But at ultraheavyweight 215+ lbs EVERY punch hurts. Even if the opponent doesn't seems hurt ANY connected punch was effective and will accumulate.
Yes, in lower divisions you might really argue that "a punch was so weak it didn't change anything thus we don't score it". But at ultraheavyweight it's far harder to argue that way. For me at ultraheavyweight "hitting someone" has a far higher value than "withstanding hits", thus at ultraheavyweight I score by the rule "Fists > Chin".
15 rounds > 12 rounds
For Americans going 15 rounds is a proof of greatness.
For me it's a proof of lack of punch and lack of speed and lack of weight. Because going 15 rounds is a failure since you didn't manage to do it in 12 rounds.
Hardly anyone could withstand 12 rounds of today's fast paced ultraheavyweight fights 215+ lbs with a lot of hits. Thus when I watch old 15 rounders I know exactly that these guys lacked the punch power or the pace (prime example is featherfist Muhammad Ali).
Forward > Backward
Will > Skill
For Americans moving forward is a proof of dominance.
Obviously Americans think that "marching forward = attacking skills" and that the boxer is doing something correct and is winning ground.
A typical American statement would be "This guy is so tall and yet he is moving backwards. What is he afraid of?"
For me this sentence makes no sense. For me it is irrelevant whether you move forward, backward or sideways. It's "hit and not be hit" not "Who moved more miles east or west".
Running away > Missed punches
For me running away (e.g. keeping distance or dodging punches) without counter-punching is COWARDICE.
For Americans it's a proof of fight smarts.
Americans/Britons: "Haha, look how Cassius Clay dodged Liston's punch by cleverly moving to the side. Liston couldn't connect with the full power. Wow, how fast Clay is! He makes Liston look foolish"
Me: "Liston connected, Clay ran away!"
Even if someone fails to hit a runner, I am still inclined to give him the round because at least he moves towards the opponent and tries to fight.
Stealing rounds = Winning rounds
For Americans a few peak seconds make you win a round.
For me if someone manages to connect and connect and connect he wins the round even if his opponent does nothing and then (at the end of the round) manages to connect stronger. For me constant performance is more important than stealing the round.
Knockdown = 3 point deduction
For me a knockdown (KD) deducts merely 1 point. I distinguish very well between the knockdown itself AND THE REST of the round.
When someone dominates the round and then gets knocked I score the round 9-9.
But Americans like to deduct 3 points: Suddenly a dominator becomes the round loser AND gets a point deducted (8-10).
Fame > Record
For Americans a mega-commercialized super fight with a big name fighting another big name is more important than 2 proven superb boxers fighting each other.
In fact Americans define the greatness of an opponent not based on his record and not based on his previous fights but on the very fight that has been praised and boosted by TV ads.
For me the record DOES COUNT. For me it _IS_ important how an opponent performed in PREVIOUS or in LATER fights. I do follow careers. And I consider ALL performances.
Mr Hide > Dr Jekyll
Americans love a swarmer like Mike Tyson. It's mainly a matter of taste but I personally prefer the civilized approach of a boxer/boxer-puncher not the animal'ish storming of a swarmer/swarmer-slugger.
Picture book style > Winning
See above ("Wladimir Klitschko sucks because he fights like a robot")
Hit > Not being hit
Boxing is about "Hit and not being hit". That's common knowledge.
But although it sounds obvious Americans nearly completely define a good boxing match by the "successful hit" and not by the "successful getting out of the way".
David Haye vs Wladimir Klitschko (which is possibly the fastest heavyweight championship fight of all times) features
- some of the snappiest fastest jabs
- some of the fastest reactions
- and some of the fastest body movements
you will ever witness at real heavyweight 200+.
Yet it has been called a "snooze fest", while rather slow championships (like Ali vs Frazier) with wild punches and a near complete lack of reactions (Ali was blind for the left hook, and Frazier was literally blind on his left eye) are hailed as "exciting".
Obviously a "good match" is defined nearly purely by offense ("Wow, did you see that punch he threw? Did you see the punch he took?") and hardly ever by successful defense ("Wow, did you see how fast he dodged? He barely got hit!")
Or as Thomas Gerbasi wrote:
"We want homeruns, touchdowns, slam dunks, and knockouts. Klitschko delivers doubles to the gap, three yards and a cloud of dust, and 20-foot jumpers.
It's not sexy, but it works.
In the process, he's given up trying to please an American public that wants all the former, but little of the latter. This is the same country that will never appreciate soccer as a spectator sport because there are no 9-8 scores."
The difference between American boxing styles and European boxing styles
Now, why do I mention the above American/British differences?
What do they have to do with the boringness of Wladimir Klitschko?
Well, these differences result in nearly every reason why Americans/Britons consider Wladimir Klitschko boring. Or why the heavyweight division is in a bad shape.
"The German fans don't care whether it's a great fight or not. They'll happily sit there and watch Wladimir going through his routine, and whether it's exciting doesn't bother them.
They're more like an audience than a crowd.
So he's not going to be under pressure to perform…
I think David Haye will knock him out later on."
(original quote by Jeff Powell, boxing expert of the Daily Mail)
I personally am immensly impressed by Wladimir Klitschko's style:
- How he dissects his opponents by predicting their every move
- How he surgically exposes their flaws and punishes them instantly with speed, accuracy, frequency and power
- How he makes their plans fail
- How he won't let them enter his space
- How he interrupts their rhythm
- How he imposes his own script on his opponents
- How he dominates them even in their supposed comfort zone
- How he prevents them from recuperating
- How he moves and repositions his body so their attack gets disrupted before it even starts
- How he wins effectively with a perfected minimalistic style, yet knows how to instantly expand his repertoire should his opponent be able to penetrate the safety zone
- How he barely gets hit (which itself is a PHENOMENA considering he is in a world championship martial arts fight)
His style has been described as
- complete stylistic shutdown of the opponent
- surgical ("Ring surgeon Dr Klitschko", "A therapist", "Surgery of Pain")
- methodical ("Cerebral Mayhem")
- minimal stake, maximal success
- boxing conservatively
- as basic as you can get
- fundamental mastery of boxing's basics
- safety-first approach
- superbly controlling the distance
- not sexy
- "systematic analytical style of boxing" (original quote by Wladimir's trainer Emmanuel Steward)
- "systematically-punish-a-guy-and-dissect-him-type of fight" (Emmanuel Steward)
- "Very tactical, no emotion whatsoever… He goes through the motions and gets the win" (David Haye)
- "he's just patient and he'll just break you down and make it frustrating for you round after round, where you don't even get a chance to really hit him clean. I mean he systematically just breaks you down and wins the fight." (Chris Byrd)
- "chess game" (Wladimir Klitschko himself)
- "You gotta stick to the strategy" (Wladimir Klitschko himself)
But for Americans/Britons Wladimir Klitschko's
sheer boxing dominance
For Americans/Britons a fight of Wladimir Klitschko looks this way:
- Wladimir Klitschko's opponent didn't have a chance thus it was a bad opponent.
- Wladimir Klitschko's dominated a helpless bum. Never heard of this opponent anyway.
- Where the heck was the slugfest? Where was the drama? Where was the competition?
- Why didn't Wladimir Klitschko throw any combos/uppercuts? Why didn't he throw the right hook earlier? Why is Wladimir Klitschko jabbing so much?
- Haha, Wladimir has been knocked down 3 times thus it deducts 9 points. It's a robbery that ·Samuel Peter didn't win.
- Well, he KO'ed that helpless opponent, what took him so long? Why didn't he jump on his opponent earlier? What was he afraid of? Why is Wladimir Klitschko so "frustrating to watch"? (original quote)
- A total nonperformance by his opponent. Why didn't his opponent fight back? Where was the exchange?
- Could we find please just 1 live opponent with a pulse? Who actually manages to land punches?
- If Corrie Sanders could KO Wladimir Klitschko then Muhammad Ali would do so, too! Jesus, this is the worst heavyweight era of all time. And Wladimir Klitschko is the worst heavyweight champion of all time. Can we please have competitive fights?
A lot of discrepancy between the American/British fan base and the others is simply a different way of looking at fights and assessing the action in the ring. It's also the main reason why Americans/Britons think that too many robberies take place in Germany ("Rulings from Planet Judge"). They simply don't understand the different scoring approach.
Now, I know that I generalized a lot and my overview doesn't apply to all Americans/Britons. But I hope it serves as a first guide into the different cultures.
Let me end with a statement of an American boxing fan I found on YouTube (after the Klitschko vs Haye fight):
"Klitschko f*cking sucks, bro. He didn't do sh*t. Neither man was getting f*cked up. Nobody got f*cked up in the fight. I came to see someone get f*cked up. And nobody got f*cked up.
Klitschko was doing bullsh*t and Haye was doing jacksh*t.
But HBO commentators are just riding Klitschko's nuts like he's the f*cking second coming of Jesus. Like he's the messiah. I mean I swear, dude… I still think I could beat both their asses after watching their sorry ass performance."
Wladimir Klitschko fights only bums and heavyweight is boring!
You have to understand that BEFORE the fight Klitschko's opponent
- "will decapitate him"
- "has a real shot"
- "is not one of the usual puddings Klitschko has been fighting for years"
- "won't stand around like the others did"
- "comes with speed and power Wladimir has not faced before"
- "has all the tools to dethrone him"
- "was ducked by Wladimir Klitschko since years for good reason"
- "means it when he says he is ready for war"
- "will surprise everybody and will cause an upset"
Then AFTER the fight the same haters who praised his new opponent now claim the opposite:
- "fought the wrong fight" / "came with the wrong game plan"
- "nothing was implemented" / "couldn't pull the trigger" / "didn't execute"
- "didn't come to win" / "just came to get a paycheck"
- "looked like an novice amateur in the ring, I could have done better against Klitschko and I am not a fighter"
- "never really tried to throw punches"
- "wasn't himself in the ring" / "had a bad night"
- "had no heart"/ "lacked the necessary courage"
- "turned out to be a pretender" / "the laughingstock" / "the roadrunner"
- "just looked unwilling to let his hands go for some reason"
- "made the same mistakes"
- "was just like all the other Klitschko victims"
- "Why the HELL is opponent after opponent trying to fight on the outside?"
- "the fight was pathetic"
- "pure waste of time"
- "a farce"
- "just another boring Klitschko performance"
- "no classic by any means"
- "it shows you in what a bad state this era is with such opponents"
- "the division is dead"
- "So this is what the heavyweight division has come to. A sad day for the sport."
- "I am really sorry for all boxing fans around the world"
(all original quotes)
I witnessed EXACTLY the same roller coaster blame game ("First toast then roast") for YEARS now.
It happens like clockwork.
What these criticizers don't realize is that Wladimir Klitschko's opponents
- look good/powerful/impressive/fast in their bouts BEFORE Klitschko
…yet against Wladimir Klitschko they…
- don't throw punches because Wladimir MOVES OUT OF RANGE
- can't hit him because Wladimir is MOVES TOO FAST
- are slow because Wladimir EXHAUSTS them by CONSTANT PRESSURE, by MAKING THEM MISS, by DICTATING THE RHYTHM
- have a low work rate because Wladimir does NOT ALLOW them to work
- don't throw their anchor punches because Wladimir NULLIFIES their power
- don't storm him because Wladimir PUNISHES them each time they try
- stand around like stiff like poles because Wladimir NAILS them into position
- cannot escape his range because he is EXTREMELY FAST
- fail to fight on the inside because Wladimir CONTROLS them
- fight like "amateurs without a chance" because Wladimir MAKES THEM look like amateurs
You see, there is a reason, why Wladimir Klitschko's opponents WIN and KO their opponents, yet against Klitschko they manage to land only 1-2 power shots per round. The reason is not that they are so bad, but because Klitschko is so unbelievably good.
All of which has been described for example with these words
"None of them really wanted to fight anymore after eating a diet of jabs, a few thudding right hands, and dealing with the frustration of putting their arms out to punch only to find themselves still a foot away from landing."
and (after the fight against David Haye)
"[The Klitschkos] have perfected the science of long-range fighting… Wladimir Klitschko, the supposedly inferior sibling, has a boxing resume that ranks among the best of all time. Olympic gold medallist in 1996. A veteran of 18 world title fights during a 10-year career as world champion in boxing's most unforgiving division…
This was the pinnacle of Haye's performance. Conventional wisdom suggested that a longer fight played directly into Klitschko's gargantuan hands, and as Haye's ferocious pace eventually began to drop, "Dr Steelhammer" soon resumed his often-practiced surgery of pain.
He effortlessly turned on the autopilot, peppering Haye with his ramrod jab and throwing occasional hooks and crosses to remind the brash Londoner of the disastrous outcome that awaited him if he strayed too close.
Haye, whose attacks became increasingly desperate, enjoyed some success in the 7th and 12th rounds through luck rather than strategy but spent the majority of proceedings hopelessly out of range, mesmerized by the precision and frequency of the best jab in world boxing.
The worrying thing is, Haye is almost certainly the top pretender to the Klitschko's place at the head of the heavyweight table.
[David Haye] had a genuinely outstanding career as a cruiserweight and had previously dealt with all the tasks asked of him as a heavyweight with an ease and confidence that suggested he was the real deal…
Gone are the days when George Foreman, standing 6'4" and weighing 220 pounds, would be the biggest man on the heavyweight circuit…
A new breed of super-heavyweight has emerged as the perfect somatotype if you wish to challenge for honours in boxing's marquee division.
The Klitschkos have a unique and perhaps unbeatable combination of size and technique that is incredibly difficult to master…
Wladimir has now developed into a master of boxing's defensive arts, with truly remarkable speed of foot for such a big man combined with an accuracy of punch that ensures every shot he throws forces his opponent to react or risk facing the full force of a potentially catastrophic Klitschko homing missile.
Put them in any era of boxing, even in the late 60s to early 70s when the pool of heavyweight talent was at its deepest, and there's no doubting that the Klitschko brothers have the size and the skill to get to the very top."
In short: The curse of perfection or as someone else put it: "The Klitschkos' only fault is that they are too good"
Wladimir Klitschko BUM'ifies his opponents by DOMINATING (= makes them look like unworthy challengers)
While other boxers (like Muhammad Ali) QUALITY'fy their opponents by STRUGGLING.
Wladimir Klitschko punishes every movement of his opponents (especially their head movement).
Thus after a few rounds his opponents become "stiff poles" and "sitting ducks".
Hence you can not assess the quality of Wladimir's opponents by watching their fights against Wladimir.
You have to watch their non-Wlad fights.
Maybe critics after so many long years of success at the top finally have to come to the conclusion, that Wladimir Klitschko has one of the best (if not the best) jabs of all time, power punches of all time, footworks of all time, reflexes of all time, speeds of all time, work attitudes of all time.
Fans of ancient boxers love so much to marvel at slugfests and chins that they overlook the boxing perfection that is right in front of them.
"Wladimir Klitschko wins because he outsizes his opponents"
Americans/Britons: "Look, how competitive the old heavies were. They went 15+ rounds."
Me: "Only means that no one could throw really hard punches."
Americans/Britons: "They were so much faster."
Me: "They were so much lighter. Wasn't even a heavyweight division then, merely CakaH-weight."
Americans/Britons: "Wow, what a fight between Frazier and Ali. They both gave everything and constantly hammered each other. Fight of the century!"
Me: "Ali couldn't keep his opponent at bay (= his defense is bad) and Ali couldn't KO his opponent (= his offense is bad)"
Americans/Britons: "Look, how china-chinned Klitschko's opponents are, they are getting KO'ed in a few rounds."
Me: "Klitschko hits like a tank engine."
Americans/Britons: "Look, how bad nowadays opponents are, they just stand around."
Me: "Klitschko dominates them, they have nowhere to move or they will be punished. And you obviously haven't watched their fights against other opponents."
Americans/Britons: "Klitschko jabs, jabs, jabs, all of the time."
Me: "Klitschko's jab hits harder than Ali's right hook. Enjoy the snap and power."
Americans/Britons: "Where is the competition? Where is the drama? Boring!"
Me: "Missiles that hit buildings they are supposed to are also boring"
The Klitschkos are bigger draws than Mike Tyson, Evan Fields or Muhammad Ali. I posted some attendance numbers at Boxing eras (6) Is heavyweight boxing dead or dying?
They fill stadiums against unknown opponents ("Klitschko vs John Doe").
Please read also Wladimir Klitschko sucks because he KOs his opponents
And, hey, if you are really so proud of how exciting American world championships were "before Wladimir Klitschko ruined the heavyweight division" then watch the all-American goodie Chris Byrd vs DaVarryl Williamson (IBF heavyweight championship).