Klitschko-Brock Wrap-Up From MSG

By Kirk Lang @ ringside


Klitschko-Brock Wrap-Up From MSG

IBF heavyweight title holder Wladimir Klitschko, fighting in his first main event at Madison Square Garden, destroyed American Calvin Brock’s dreams of becoming a champion this past Saturday with a perfect 1-2 combination in the seventh round of their scheduled twelve-round affair. A huge right hand sent Brock face-down on the canvas. Lying there as if he had been hit by a human-sized fly swatter, Brock somehow made it to his feet but referee Wayne Kelly, seeing Brock was on wobbly legs, called it off at the 2:10 mark. Before the fight-ending shot, Klitschko had stunned Brock earlier in the round with another straight-down-the pike right hand that followed a left hook. Klitschko closed the show in spectacular fashion but the fight itself was far from spectacular.

"It wasn’t one of his better performances," said Emanual Steward, Klitscko’s trainer, "But with that said, it’s hard to be perfect every night." Brock, a member of the 2000 United States Olympic boxing team, fought a much better fight than many experts believed he would. Although the smaller man in the ring - the fight program had Brock listed at 6'2" and Klitschko at 6'6" - Brock held his own over the first four rounds and actually fought better against Klitschko than Chris Byrd, who lost his heavyweight to Klitschko in April. When Klitschko challenged Byrd for his title, Byrd was considered the best of the heavyweight title holders.

Brock proved more difficult to hit than Byrd, who has a reputation as a slick and crafty heavyweight. "The Boxing Banker" fought with a high guard and often blocked or moved out of the way of Klitschko’s offensive bursts. However, Klitschko, over the first four rounds, never really let his hands go. He fought at a measured pace, perhaps trying to avoid what happened to him when he fought Lamon Brewster in April 2004. Klitschko tattooed Brewster with an amazingly high number of punches over five rounds but eventually wiped himself out, allowing Brewster to notch a fifth round TKO. Learning from his mistakes, Klitschko’s punch output against Brock was far more minimal than what he registered when he faced Brewster. Klitschko, 47-3 with 42 KOs, controlled Brock, 29-1 with 22 KOs, by keeping his left hand  halfway extended. When he went on the offensive, it was more a push than a punch. He rarely threw a sharp, snapping jab. Although Brock often found it difficult to get past Klitschko’s long left arm, he managed to out-punch "The Steel Hammer" over the first four frames. According to the CompoBox punch statistics, Brock landed 49 of 171 punches throughout the first four rounds (29 percent) while Klitschko connected on 34 of 159 attempts (21 percent).
In the fifth round however, Klitschko began to solve the Brock puzzle and turned up the heat. He dominated the stanza with quick jabs - not seen earlier in the bout - and had more success landing his power punches, most notably the left hook. A number of jabs snapped Brock’s head back. Klitschko looked more fluid in the fifth frame and moved well on his toes between tagging Brock with jabs that seemed like they couldn’t miss their target.

While the jab was the key punch in the round, Klitschko landed two right hand bombs just before the bell to close out the stanza. The power punches elicited "oohs" from the crowd of 14,260, hundreds of whom went to the fight with small and large flags of the Ukraine to visibly show their support for Klitschko. Although Klitschko worked the jab beautifully in the fifth, he did not keep it up in the sixth, perhaps because he was thrown off his game by a cut he suffered above his left eye. While referee Wayne Kelly ruled the cut was caused by an accident head butt, Klitschko did not know this. He said at the post-fight press conference that he thought it was caused by a punch.
Feeling a sense of urgency, and with the fear in his mind that the fight could be stopped and Brock would win by TKO, Klitschko ended matters in the next round. In losing to Klitschko, Brock saw his undefeated record disappear. Going in, he was 29-0 with 22 knockouts.

Steward pointed out that Brock was the third undefeated fighter Klitschko has faced in four fights. The only one who wasn’t undefeated was IBF champion Chris Byrd "who was the number one heavyweight champion," said Steward, who added, "So he (Klitschko) has been fighting really good fighters compared to everybody else. He’s been fighting the best fighters out there."
Brock, who was rated in the top five by the IBF, WBC and WBA, said he never saw the right hand that ended the fight, since it came immediately after Klitschko’s jab. Although Brock was disappointed he didn’t win the IBF belt, he promised he will become a world champion on another night.
"It’s not over for me," he said. "A lot of fighters have a loss, or two, or three, before they become a world champion. This was just my first one and I don’t feel bad about it. My spirits are very high because I gave my best effort and I was in there with the best in the world, as of today. I lost to the guy that’s regarded by everybody as the most legitimate heavyweight title holder."
Klitschko, asked who he wants to fight next, said, "Anybody who holds a title. It doesn’t matter who." He admitted he will not feel like a true champion until he becomes the undisputed champion.


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