By Graham Houston
His last fight was a dreary 12-rounder, but Vitali Klitschko should be able to give a far more pleasing type of performance when he defends his heavyweight title against Albert Sosnowski in Germany on Saturday. The trouble with Klitschko’s last display was that his opponent, Kevin Johnson, came to survive, not to fight. It is difficult for anyone to look good against an opponent whom refuses to engage them in a meaningful fight in which punches are thrown on both sides. Johnson chose to cover up on the ropes, rolling with punches, always watchful of what was coming at him while doing very little punching himself. Sosnowski, though, is a boxer who can be relied upon to give a wholehearted effort.
He is not the type who will be content to settle for the so-called moral victory of lasting the course. I have no doubt that Sosnowski has winning in mind, which means he will be prepared to gamble a little. This should give Klitschko the chance to land clean punches on the target area — an opportunity that simply did not present itself when he fought Johnson.
Klitschko is, obviously, a massive favorite. “Dr. Ironfist” has won practically every round of his four fights since making his return to the ring in October 2008, after four years of inactivity caused by an assortment of injuries.
Sosnowski, meanwhile, was well beaten by the trial horse Zuri Lawrence a couple of years ago.
The class difference in Saturday’s fight looks enormous, even though Sosnowski gave his best showing in his last fight when he easily outpointed Paolo Vidoz to capture the European title (which he vacated when he got the opportunity to meet Klitschko).
Sosnowski talks a good fight — but don’t they all? Last weekend we had Kali Meehan promising to give Ruslan Chagaev a war he wouldn’t forget, only to box as if he was intimidated.
“I will be aggressive and take risks against him because too many fighters have gone in the ring against Klitschko just to earn a paycheck,” Sosnowski said last week in a statement released through his PR man. Sosnowski admits that Klitschko is tough and intelligent and doesn’t let his opponents fight their fight, but he believes he can find the solution. “I will move sideways, trying to explore his defensive errors, and see what happens when he gets hit,” Sosnowski said. “Aggression, movement and speed are the keys for me to win. I will not just stand there — it’s all or nothing for me.”
The trouble is, Sosnowski has not shown himself able to box the sort of moving, smart-boxing fight that might give him an outside chance against Klitschko. I have always thought of Sosnowski as a busy, pressure-fighter type. He does have useful boxing ability, as he showed when pasting Vidoz and in a very good effort when he battled to a draw with the unbeaten Francesco Pianeta in Germany. However, earnest, straightforward fighting just won’t get the job done against the towering Klitschko, who although he turns 39 in a couple of months still has the look of a fresh fighter.
I think that Sosnowski will give a gritty display, one that will make the fight entertaining for the crowd and worldwide TV viewing audience (PPV in the U.S. on satellite and cable systems, Primetime PPV in Britain). Unfortunately for Sosnowski, though, I think that his heart and willingness to fight will lead to him getting hit too hard and too often by the WBC champion. I can picture Klitschko using his long left jab to set up Sosnowski for right hands and drilling in the sort of shots that his opponent has never had to take in his 48-bout career.
Sosnowski will have trouble closing the distance without getting caught by counters. Klitschko knows how to lay back and get his punches off, then step away before his opponent can fire back. What he does is simple but highly effective — he hits the other man before they can hit him and doesn’t wait around to allow himself to be hit back.
Klitschko’s comeback fights have seen him looking efficient but unspectacular — the drawn-out, wear-them-down stoppage wins over Samuel Peter, Juan Carlos Gomez and Chris Arreola and the lackluster points win over Kevin Johnson. I think he has the chance for a more dramatic type of victory on Saturday.
Sosnowski looks the part with his impressively muscled physique, and there have certainly been less-qualified challengers, but I think he is outclassed and outgunned and I am expecting a win for Klitschko some time after the fifth (but before the ninth) round.