Since this is a holiday weekend I will make this a brief column, or at least I’ll try, with just a few thoughts on a few heavyweight fights one from last weekend with Evander Holyfield winning a decision over Lou Saverese in a better than expected fight and this weekend’s rematch of Wladimir Klitschko and the man who stopped him the first time out Lamon Brewster.
We’ll start out with Holyfield’s 10-round decision win over Saverese. Everyone knows my feelings about Evander, he should be retired, fishing in Costa Rica or hunting in Montana rather than fighting anywhere, but we are all done trying to convince the 44-year old ‘Real Deal’ of that rather obvious fact. After a good performance over Saverese last weekend he will be even more in denial of any ‘hanging up the gloves’ talk. No, Evander will not walk away; he will have to be carried away.
I have finally figured out why Holyfield is like this and refuses to see the handwriting on the wall or on the ring mat. Holyfield may be the most stubborn Heavyweight Champion of all time. I’m very serious about this and this blatant stubbornness has actually been one of the least recognized but main reasons Evander has been such a tremendous fighter. He refuses to accept the obvious.
Great examples of this would be his trilogy with Riddick Bowe. Evander was too stubborn to realize that Bowe was the bigger, stronger, better fighter. Especially in that first fight and in that 10th round when Evander was out on his feet, but came back to hurt Bowe late in the round. Evander would lose his title to Bowe that night. In their second fight, Holyfield refused to accept that Bowe was going to win the rematch much easier than the first fight. Holyfield won the second ‘fan man’ marred fight. In their rubber match, Bowe was totally dominating Holyfield who, in that fight, first showed signs of what would be diagnosed a heart problem. Evander seemed to have absolutely no energy and was on the verge of being stopped early but he refused to quit and he scored a knockdown of Bowe, before he was eventually stopped himself.
Going into his first fight with Mike Tyson, everyone thought Mike would retire if not kill Evander, we all know what happened in that fight and their ear bite rematch. Again Holyfield was too stubborn to see the light. After his worst performance of his career when he was stopped by James Toney, everyone and their brother knew Holyfield was finally finished as a fighter, or certainly finished as a contender for any share of the Heavyweight Championship again. Everyone knew that but Evander, who has come back since then to win 4 or 5 fights (he lost a decision to Larry Donald after the Toney fight). And now as crazy, and nutty, as it sounds he possibly could get another title shot!
So if Holyfield did get his shot and could somehow win, and with today’s heavyweight landscape he could actually get lucky and win; would this be enough for Evander? Would he walk away into the sunset as champion? No, not even close, Evander is so stubborn he would chose to continue on and try and once again claim the Undisputed Heavyweight Title. So now you know, this man best known for his tremendous heart and warrior, gladiator spirit, also is as stubborn as a mule, and for boxing fans for the most part we must be thankful for that.
On to this weekend’s rematch of the guy I consider the best Heavyweight today Wladimir Klitschko taking on former champ Lamon Brewster who as mentioned earlier stopped him in round 5 when the two first met here in Vegas in April of 2004. In that fight that I attended, Klitschko was winning the fight early utilizing his four and half inch height and four inch reach advantage. It appeared he was on his way to a stoppage but then Brewster really turned it up and applied the pressure and, much like his nickname, he became relentless. It seemed that this pressure coupled with the fact that Wlad had started early was just too much for Klitschko who just flat hit a wall and was dead tired after the 4th round. To his credit Brewster finished matters the following round.
Many felt at that point Klitschko having suffered his third stoppage loss of his career and second in a year (the others to Ross Purity in 1998, and Corrie Sanders in 2003) might end his career as a top notch heavyweight. To his credit, Wladimir has come back and won 6 straight fights including wins over former champ Chris Byrd and a very good win over power punching Sam Peter, a fight where Klitschko was on the deck multiple times and came back to win.
As for Brewster since the big time upset win over Wladimir, he has been very inactive and sort of ho hum and had some injury woes as well. He has fought only four times over the last three years struggling to win a controversial split decision over Kali Meehan in 2004, destroying Andrew Golota in one round in 2005, scoring a TKO over Luan Krasniqi in 2005. In his last fight, last year in April, Brewster had a very exciting fight but lost a unanimous decision and his WBO belt to Serguei Lyakhovich.
Here’s how I break this fight taking place in Germany down. First off it’s in Wlad’s adopted home of Germany, a huge advantage to Klitschko as strange things take place to foreign fighters, especially Americans fighters, in Germany, enough said on that. Brewster biggest advantage, and maybe only advantage, is the fact the he stopped Klitschko the first time out. He needs to try and remind Wladimir of that right away. He needs to make Klitschko suffer a flashback and it must start right away.
He needs to be as relentless as he has ever been from the opening bell. Klitschko lost that first fight not so much due to the power of Brewster but it was the pressure applied from him as Wladimir gets very tight when he is pressured, he cannot fight at all going back. If you pressure him it totally throws him off his game and he becomes undone. Klitschko has proven he can go 12 rounds with not too much of a problem when he is in control, but he tires quickly when he is under attack.
I must say that I think that Wladimir is now more relaxed as a fighter. Emanuel Steward has done a very good job with him, working on a few of his skills and settling him down as a fighter. The big guy also can really punch with either hand and works very well off his jab. Both fighters are in their early 30s which is primetime for Heavyweights. Bottom line on this one is that Klitschko should be able to knock out Brewster in or before round 9.
Coming up in just two weeks, it’s Bernard vs. Winky from Mandalay Bay here in Vegas.