VITALI KLITSCHKO vs. CHRIS ARREOLA
When: Saturday, Sept. 10
Where: Wroclaw, Poland
TV: HBO, 2 pm. PT/ 5 p.m. PT
Title(s) at stake: Klitschko’s WBC heavyweight
Also on the card: Andrzej Wawrzyk vs. Devin Vargas, 10 rounds, heavyweights; Ola Afolabi vs. Lukasz Rusiewicz, 8 rounds, cruiserweights.
Height / Reach: 6-7½ (202cm) / 80 (203cm)
Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine
Nickname: Dr. Ironfist
Turned pro: 1996
Record: 42-2 (39 knockouts)
Trainer: Fritz Sdunek
Fight-by-fight: Click here.
The Ring rating: No. 1 heavyweight
Titles: 1999-00 (lost it to Chris Byrd); 2004-05 (retired); 2008-current.
Biggest victories: Herbie Hide, June 26, 1999, KO2 (first major title); Corrie Sanders, April 24, 2004, TKO 8 (won vacant title); Sam Peter, Oct. 11, 2008, TKO 8 (wins title after almost four-year layoff); Juan Carlos Gomez, March 21, 2009, TKO 9; Chris Arreola, Sept. 26, 2009, TKO 10; Kevin Johnson, Dec. 12, 2009, UD 12; Odlanier Solis, March 19, 2011, KO 1 (most-recent fight).
Losses: Chris Byrd, April 1, 2000, TKO 9 (retired on stool with injured shoulder); Lennox Lewis, June 21, 2003, TKO 6 (lost because of a cut).
Height / reach: 6-1½ (187cm) / 75 (191cm)
Hometown: Jersey City, N.J. (from Zywiec, Poland)
Turned pro: 1999
Record: 44-1 (28 knockouts)
Trainer: Roger Bloodworth
Fight-by-fight: Click here.
The Ring rating: No. 3 heavyweight
Titles: WBC light heavyweight (2005-2007; lost it to Chad Dawson); IBF cruiserweight (2008-09; vacated).
Biggest victories: Paul Briggs, May 21, 2005, MD 12 (won vacant title); O’Neil Bell, April 19, 2008, TKO 8 (won title); Steve Cunningham, Dec. 11, 2008, SD 12; Andrew Golota, Oct. 24, 2009, TKO 5; Chris Arreola, April 24, 2010, MD 12; Kevin McBride, April 9, 2011, UD 12 (most-recent fight).
Loss: Chad Dawson, Feb. 3, 2007, UD 12 (lost title).
Skills: Both Klitschko and Adamek are strong, aggressive boxers. Adamek, the better overall technician, is a complete fighter with proven versatility. The Polish veteran was more of a combination-punching hunter at light heavyweight and cruiserweight but has adopted a stick-and-move style for his heavyweight campaign. Klitschko possesses a somewhat awkward, unorthodox style but his absolute mastery of distance and timing has made him one of the most dominant boxers of the past 10 years. Although Klitschko breaks some rules (such as keeping his hands low), he’s so effective at using his height and reach with his underrated footwork that he’s almost untouchable. His offense doesn’t amount to much more than one-two combinations but that’s more than enough for most opponents due to his size and power.
Power: Klitschko, who has stopped 39 of the 44 opponents he’s faced, has the highest KO percentage (88.6) of any heavyweight titleholder in history. Adamek, who was considered a good puncher at light heavyweight and cruiserweight, has average power at heavyweight.
Speed and athletic ability: Adamek and Klitschko are above average athletes for the heavyweight division. Both possess quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination. Adamek has exceptionally quick hands because of the speed that he brought up with him from the lighter weight classes. Although he isn’t as fluid as his younger brother, Klitschko moves exceptionally well for a 6-foot-7, 250-pound man.
Defense: Adamek keeps his hands up and chin tucked well but he is not known for his defensive prowess. His aggressive nature sometimes leads to getting caught with punches from opponents who are not in his class. Klitschko often leaves his hands down but is very good at leaning away from incoming punches. He is served well by his height, which coupled with his footwork, makes his head a very difficult target. Chris Arreola, who was able to occasionally connect on Adamek, couldn’t catch Klitschko with a clean punch to the jaw.
Experience: Adamek has one only more pro bout than Klitschko (45 to 44), but has fought 71 more rounds (280 to 209) than the older fighter. However, Klitschko has faced more experienced fighters, including eight titleholders. Adamek has faced three titleholders.
Chin: Adamek had a granite chin for the light heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions and his ability to take a punch has served him well at heavyweight, but he’s been shook a few times by the big boys. Chris Arreola knocked him back on his heels a few times and 6-foot-8, 250-pound Michael Grant clearly rocked him at least twice. Klitschko has rarely been in seriously trouble from a punch to the jaw. Corrie Sanders may have buzzed Klitschko in the first round of their fight, but he quickly recovered. He even absorbed the best uppercuts from Lennox Lewis.
Conditioning: Both fighters are known for staying in shape between fights and both train to fight hard for 12 rounds if need be.
Wear and tear: You’d think the 40-year-old fighter who turned pro in 1996 would have more mileage on his fighter’s odometer but Klitschko’s knockout power and near-four-year hiatus from the sport has helped preserve him. And many of the extra 71 rounds Adamek has gone were hard ones.
Corner: Klitschko has one of Germany’s all-time best trainers in his corner. Fritz Sdunek, who also currently trains middleweight titleholder Felix Sturm and cruiserweight contender Ola Afolabi, has guided more than a dozen fighters to amateur and pro championships, including Dariusz Michalczewski, Istvan Kovacs, Zsolt Erdei, Artur Grigorian, and Vitali’s brother Wladimir. Adamek has an accomplished trainer in his corner in Roger Bloodworth, but the veteran’s best work has come as an assistant coach to the likes of Pernell Whitaker and Fernando Vargas.
Outcome: Adamek will give his 40,000-plus fans something to cheer about in the first two rounds of the bout when he scores surprisingly well utilizing a hit-and-run tactics, but the carefully stalking titleholder begins to time the smaller man’s advances in the third. Klitschko only lands his jab in rounds three and four but it’s enough to snap Adamek’s head back and make him hesitant to dart in with his quick combinations. Once Adamek gives Klitschko the space to land his straight right hand the fight quickly turns in favor of the Ukrainian giant. Adamek’s heart and iron chin enable him to survive rocky moments in the middle rounds of the bout but his corner does the right thing and halts the bout once his legs begin to fail him down the stretch.
Prediction: Klitschko by late rounds stoppage.