Vitali Klitschko: Victim of Circumstance

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Saturday the 19th of March, 2011 saw a defining chapter in the sad career of Vitali Klitschko. His victory over Odlanier Solis was one of the most disappointing displays of the sweet science ever to take place. Vitali and his brother, Wladimir, have had to contend with a depressing number of such disappointments, but I will forever argue that they are not to blame.

Even before the fight started there was a frisson of anticipation, as anyone who has seen Solis fight knows that he is a serious puncher, a surprisingly fast mover and an excellent technician. With only 17 fights to his name, it was perhaps too early to put him in with a Klitschko, but he could present genuine competition.

The fight itself started promisingly, with both men stepping in and landing blows with accuracy and power. Vitali looked like he was gearing up for a more open fight, like the classic he had with Lewis eight years earlier; he was headhunting and had clearly decided to take a punch or two so he could land his own. Solis was moving well, though too often backwards. Perhaps he wanted to bring Vitali forward and overbalance the giant Ukrainian, or perhaps it was dawning on him what a massive man he had in front of him.

Then, after an apparently innocuous exchange with seconds left in the first round, Solis fell on his backside clutching his knee. The referee counted; the fight was over. Vitali was incensed; the crowd booed; Solis was sat on his stool while the doctor checked him over. Later, the reports came in that Solis had ruptured a cruciate ligament in his knee.

So: it was nobody's fault. But these champions fight twice a year; the next time we shall see Vitali it will be autumn, against another challenger with dubious credentials.

David Haye, a blown-up Cruiserweight, will most likely lose on points to the cagey Wladimir and Vitali will have to face someone like Alexander Povetkin. What would you ask of Wladimir? That he lose? He will keep the fight at long range, Haye's face will become well acquainted with his jab and the fight will drag to the inevitable conclusion.

But Wladimir will win, and Vitali will beat whoever else they put in front of him and the world will yawn at two of the greatest fighters to ever step in the ring.


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