Monday, July 6, 2009

A Look Back At Vitali Klitschko vs. Lennox Lewis

Would Lennox Lewis have gotten knocked out by Vitali Klitschko had the fight continued? Was Lewis out of shape? Would the outcome of the fight be different had Vitali Klitschko not gotten cut? Who would have won a rematch?

Those are some of the prevailing questions when it comes to the Lewis vs. Klitschko bout. These questions have been asked right after the fight, in 2003, up until this day. I can't answer all these questions - no one can - but it sure is fun to speculate.

First of all, to the questions of Lennox Lewis being out of shape. He was! But that was his fault. He came into the fight heavier than usual. Most people like to point out Lewis was out of shape because he was supposed to fight Kirk Johnson, then at the last minute Vitali Klitschko stepped in to fill the void. This is all true - but Vitali Klitschko was ALSO training to fight someone else at the time. And if I remember correctly, it was Lewis' people who offered Vitali the fight. He took it. This argument needs to be thrown out the window (about Lewis not being prepared for Vitali) because Vitali wasn't prepared for Lewis either. When you're the heavyweight champion of the world, coming into ANY fight out of shape is no excuse. Vitali came into the fight in shape, Lewis didn't. Both fighters were unprepared for each other.

Now that that is out of the way, onto the fight: Probably the most exciting heavyweight fight in a long time. It was full of drama and excitement.

Lewis was no doubt surprised at Vitali's aggressiveness in the first round. I'm sure he underestimated Klitschko's ability, as it showed in the first two rounds.

Round 2 Vitali Klitschko almost got Lennox out of there, landing a perfect right hand which went under Lewis' lazy jab. Lewis hung on for dear life, until his head was cleared. The remainder of the round saw Vitali roughing Lewis up.

Round 3 was much more even. Both men landed some good, solid shots. This is the round Vitali Klitschko got cut in - which, in my opinion, was Vitali's last round in which he had some serious momentum. It all went down hill from there for Vitali. Things started to swing back into Lewis' favor.

Rounds 4, 5 and 6 saw both men landing some clean shots; Vitali's jab was effective throughout - and Lennox's jab started finding its mark after round 3. Rounds 5 and 6, particularly, started to swing to Lewis' favor heavily. Lennox Lewis was dog tired, but there is no question, as the fight progressed he started to land with more regularity.

At the end of round 6, Vitali walked slowly to his corner, while Lennox slumped down onto his stool like a sack of bricks. Both men were breathing heavy. Both were exhausted.

This is where the debate is most heated; some say Lennox Lewis would have inevitably gotten knocked out had the fight continued. Others say the momentum had swung in Lewis' favor, and that Vitali's cut would have only gotten worse.....both sides make excellent points. In my humble opinion, Lewis was gaining momentum, landing with more regularity, etc. As the fight wore on it was Lewis' for the taking. That's what I saw.

Would the fight have turned out differently had Vitali not gotten cut? I think so. This was Vitali's first cut, and it was a bad one at that. It bothered him, no doubt about it. Be that as it may, Vitali did get cut; it's apart of boxing.

There are a lot of what ifs when it comes to this fight. My ruling is that if Vitali Klitschko came out to face Lewis in the 7th round, he would have been grinded down, if not in the 7th round, the 8th or the one after that. It was only a matter of time.

After losing to Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko made quick work of Kirk Johnson, destroying him in 2 rounds. The loss to Lewis actually gave Vitali a lot of confidence. And I think Lennox Lewis sensed this. Maybe Lewis himself thought "What if Vitali didn't get that cut?"

Shortly after the Kirk Johnson vs. Vitali Klitschko fight, Lewis retired. I can't say I blame him. "What if Klitschko doesn't get cut in the rematch?"

I posted the full fight between Klitschko-Lewis - so you can judge for yourself.

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