My column on Wladimir Klitschko's standing in the heavyweight division and Klitschko's subsequent knockout victory over Tony Thompson in a WBO-IBF title bout Saturday in Hamburg, Germany, generated significant reader response.
I'll answer your questions on that fight, Klitschko's potential challengers, how he would have fared against some of the greats of the past, as well as other current boxing topics, in this week's edition of the mailbag.
My responses, as always, are in italics.
MINTO DESERVES A SHOT
You are correct about Wladimir Klitschko, but I believe there is a lot of good talent that isn't getting a chance because of politics. We have a pretty good fighter in these parts named Brian Minto. I am certain that he is more than up to knocking the block off the current Klitschko, but he can't get an opportunity. He is forced to fight bums, has-beens, and nobodies. Is this due to his management or do you think it is just the dirty business of boxing creeping in? Personally, I think they are afraid of him so the current champions discriminate who they fight to keep the title longer than they should. Klitschko knocked out Tony Thompson on Saturday, who was once his sparring partner. That's just another example of what I'm saying. I'd like to se these hungry fighters out there be recognized and rewarded instead prima donnas like Klitschko.
John, Minto is a tough guy and is an entertaining fighter, but he's nowhere near at a level to be ready to fight someone like Klitschko. I'm not trying to disparage Minto, because I have great respect for anyone who steps into the ring. But saying Minto is qualified to fight for the title is like saying a pitcher in Class A who is 10-1 is ready to pitch in the majors. Minto's level of competition has been exceptionally poor. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and would love to see a heavyweight champion from the city. Unfortunately, I don't think Minto is the guy who will do it.
WLAD IS GREAT
I think you are wrong about Wladimir Klitschko not being a great heavyweight fighter. He has retained his title and fought many top contenders. He fought them all and beat them all and keeps finding a way to win. He has 51 wins and only three losses. That says it all. Of all the heavyweights out there now, he is the best.
I agree he's the best, Daniel. But when I'm referencing great, I'm talking more in a big picture. And when you compare him to guys like Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, he comes up woefully short. The point of my column was that he hasn't been tested against a really gifted opponent. You can't be considered great in boxing unless you have beaten other high-caliber opponents.
HE DOES ENOUGH TO WIN
How can you say Klitschko is not a great boxer? That's like saying George Mikan was not a great basketball player. His fights lack the combativeness of your benchmark fighters, but not the outcome. He stands heads above the rest and that is why he looks unchallenged. He is a well-trained machine, but why show killer instinct if you don't have to? You obviously were never in the military. The best only do enough to win. It is not to please you bloodthirsty pretenders.
I'd take exception that the best only do enough to win. The best go out to close the show and don't fight cautiously and tentatively. Sultan Ibragimov deserves most of the blame for their horrendous title unification bout in February. But having said that, I also must say that Klitschko is good enough to have found a way to have broken down Ibragimov and stopped him. Guys like Marvin Hagler, Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes and many others were great for precisely the reason that they went out to win and win impressively, not just to survive.
Wladimir Klitschko is a stiff. He fights like he has been programmed and then sent into the ring. He is like the guy who learned to dance by placing footprints on the floor. He is the most lively zombie in an era of dead heavyweights. Klitschko will never be considered great not only because he has not fought anyone of note, but his style is so obvious and predictable, and with that tea cup chin of his, he would have never made it past the other top guys of the 70s or 80s. Let's shelve this talk of Klitschko's greatness, because we all know it ain't so.
Klitschko has great physical gifts, but he does frequently fight mechanically. If he had been around in that era, I think he would have been able to adapt because of his athleticism. His chin would have been a question mark against many of the top fighters of that era, but remember that those men weren't used to fighting a guy who had them by six or seven inches and more than 50 pounds.
In your column about Wladimir Klitschko, you were reciting his resume and referred to him as having "only been beaten cleanly once." I know his record stands at 52-3 with his three losses all coming by way of TKO to Ross Puritty, Corrie Sanders, and Lamon Brewster. My question is, which of the three is the "clean" defeat and what makes the other two "dirty?" I have never seen any of his losses in their entirety, only highlights of the knockout by Sanders and that seemed legit. But since I haven't seen the whole fight, or any of the other two, I wasn't sure what the deal was.
Sanders knocked Klitschko cold, which is the fight I said was the clean defeat. In the other two, he was dominating the bout until his conditioning got so bad that he nearly passed out. The losses weren't so much because of great work by his opponents, but rather because Klitschko could barely stay on his feet. He was so fatigued in the loss to Brewster that for a while he was claiming he might have been drugged. I wasn't trying to insinuate that the Puritty and Brewster fights weren't on the up and up. I was referencing the way the fights concluded.
HE'D BEAT BIG GEORGE
Looking forward to your view of Wladimir Klitschko now after he stopped Tony Thompson in the 11th round on Saturday. I watched that fight and it was a battle between two big, strong men who are tough and athletic. I'd liked to have seen a duel between Big George Foreman and Klitschko. I'm sorry to say I think Big George would have lost, whether it was his first or last reign. Mike Tyson would not have stood with Klitschko, not by a long shot. He was too small. That's what I believe, anyway.
Gary A. Brewer
Elk Grove, Calif.
Foreman would have pulverized Klitschko, Gary. It would have been no contest. I believe the Mike Tyson of 1988 would also have handled a prime Klitschko very easily. Tyson was greatly diminished in the mid-90s and beyond and Klitschko could have hung with and beaten that version of Iron Mike. I simply don't think he could have beaten the best Tyson there was, though. Unfortunately, we'll never know.
REMATCH WITH TITO
Don King has stated that he's working with Golden Boy Promotions on a rematch with Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya for Dec. 6. Do you see this happening? And what do you predict will happen in the fight? I know both fighters are well past their primes, but it would no doubt be a big-money fight and will make boatloads of money. I can't lie. I'm intrigued.
This is a fight that should have happened in 2000 or 2001. I doubt it will happen. De La Hoya isn't going to fight above 154 pounds and Trinidad has said he can't get down under 170. If he could get to 154, I suppose there is a chance the fight could be made because De La Hoya doesn't have a wealth of potential opponents. If they fight, I'd go with De La Hoya. He won the first fight, even though he didn't get the decision after his late-bout track meet, and I believe he'd win a rematch.
CAN VALERO HANG WITH PACMAN?
May I have your opinion on what will happen if Manny Pacquiao signs to fight Edwin Valero for the WBC lightweight title later this year? Although the odds still favor Manny, should Manny's fans be scared because of Valero's record of 24 wins and 24 knockouts in 24 fights? I haven't seen any of Valero's fight yet. So many Filipinos are not familiar with him.
I'd like Pacquiao by stoppage in that fight, which will likely take place Nov. 15 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas if promoter Bob Arum can convince the Nevada Athletic Commission to license Valero. Valero is an exceptionally hard puncher, but he punches very wide and would be vulnerable to Pacquiao's blows, which are just about as hard.
DON'T FORGET FEATHERWEIGHT
How come you're not putting emphasis on Manny Pacquiao's Ring belt he won at 126 when he beat Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003? The bottom line is that Manny should be a five-division champ right now and not a four-division champ!
I don't consider The Ring belt a legitimate world title belt. The Ring is a magazine and I don't believe it's a journalist's place to award championships. And so while it's true that Pacquiao was probably the best featherweight in the world after beating Barrera, he didn't win a recognized world title belt for doing it and that's why he's regarded as a four-division champion and not five.
HOW GOOD IS JUNIOR?
What is your impression of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.? I don't know if you saw the fight on Saturday between Chavez Jr. and Matt Vanda. I was just wondering your opinion on Chavez and on the outcome of the fight. I for one am a fan of Chavez Jr. But I believe Vanda was the true winner.
I missed the first two rounds, Danny, so it's hard for me to judge the fight. Everyone I've spoken to says Chavez clearly won the first two, so if that's the case, I say he earned a close decision. Judge Francisco Mowet's card of 100-90 for Chavez was ludicrous. That's the kind of judging that makes many American fighters leery of fighting on the road. I don't think Chavez is anything special. He's a middle-of-the-pack type guy who will get a few big paydays because of his name. His younger brother, Omar, is reputedly much more skilled and should begin showing up on cards soon.
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