Vitali Klitschko: To say this is getting repetitive is a giant understatement – giant, as in the Klitschko brothers. Tomasz Adamek was supposed to be the one who could give either of the Klitschko brothers at least a little trouble, enough to create some level of drama. Didn’t happen. Klitschko, 40, was at his best. He delivered a fearsome beating, popping Adamek with a relentless left jab and enough crushing right hands to end the fight in the 10th round. He also was almost impossible to hit, keeping Adamek at the end of his left or stepping back when the smaller man tried to attack. That fine-tuned system of fighting – as well as a great chin — makes Klitschko all but unbeatable in this era of marginal heavyweights. The elder of the brothers probably won’t fight beyond 42. We can’t enjoy competitive fights when he or his brother are involved. Let’s at least try to admire their remarkable success.
Tomasz Adamek: The tough Pole does everything right. No one works harder at his craft or conditioning and he lives a clean life, which gives him a chance to beat almost any heavyweight in the world. Almost. The problem is that he can’t grow, which would’ve been required to give Vitali Klitschko a fight on Saturday night. Adamek was listed at 6-1½ and 216 pounds for the fight, which was decent size for a heavyweights in the day of Rocky Marciano or even Muhammad Ali. A fighter that size would have to have the skill set of an Ali or a Larry Holmes to have any chance against the giant Ukrainians. Adamek isn’t that good. He has nothing to be ashamed of, though. He tried mightily as long as the fight lasted, being mercifully saved by a referee who could witness the assault no longer. Now Adamek probably will go back to beating everyone else.
Heavyweight division: The only thing to appreciate about the heavyweight division is the dominance of the Klitschko brothers because no one is going to beat either one of them. Adamek probably was the best-possible challenger to their preeminence and we saw what happened. Who else is there? Alexander Povetkin? Had to work hard to beat Ruslan Chagaev, who Wladimir Klitschko destroyed. David Haye? Wladimir eliminated that threat. Eddie Chambers? Another Wladimir victim. Alexander Dimitrenko or Denis Boytsov? Too limited and too small. Chris Arreola? Been there, done that. The only possibility with any intrigue is Robert Helenius, the unbeaten 6-6½ Finn. Helenius doesn’t know how to use his height as the Klitschkos do but he has solid skills and considerable punching power. Could he be the one? Doubtful. But we have to maintain some level of hope.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Yuriorkis Gamboa: The most-striking aspect of Gamboa’s one-sided victory over Daniel Ponce de Leon on Saturday was that it wasn’t very striking. Gamboa dazzled the boxing world with his fourth-round KO of Jorge Solis in his previous fight, in which all his strengths – speed, power and sublime skill – were on display. On Saturday, Gamboa was merely very good. He fought cautiously, scoring consistently with quick, hard combinations but decided not to take the risks necessary to do something spectacular. Perhaps that is the result of respect for de Leon. And, of course, de Leon’s ability played a role in Gamboa’s performance. The former junior featherweight titleholder is a world-class fighter who would be a challenge for anyone. Bottom line: Gamboa had a good, not great night. And that’s OK. No one gives transcendent performances every time they step into the ring.
BIGGEST LOSER II
Daniel Ponce de Leon: The hard-punching Mexican veteran has been in difficult positions recently. He stepped up in weight (to junior lightweight) to face gifted Adrien Broner in March and then agreed to face one of the sport’s fastest-rising stars in Gamboa. De Leon lost decisions in each of those fights, the first by a narrow margin and the second by quite a bit. Still, he was competitive in both. And that fact will not have been lost on those who saw him fight. De Leon proved in two losses that he’s as tough as billed and a better boxer than many believed him to be. He is loaded with ability and remains hungry at 31, particularly after back-to-back setbacks. Prediction: He will get back into the win column in his next outing and win some important fights in the near future. He’s that good.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Oscar De La Hoya told Yahoo! Sports that Mayweather’s recent opponents have been either in decline or moving up in weight, which doesn’t apply to his next opponent – Victor Ortiz. De La Hoya, who promotes Ortiz, said the last prime young fighter his size Mayweather has faced was either Diego Corrales in 2001 or Jose Luis Castillo in 2002. Is he right? To some extent. The post-Castillo opponents who come closest to prime were Zab Judah in 2006 and Ricky Hatton in 2007 and we all know their limitations. And there were dangerous (and prime) post-2002 opponents Mayweather failed to meet. Three examples are Kostya Tszyu at 140 pounds and Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto at 147. The other side of the story is this: Nine of the 12 fighters he has faced since his second fight with Castillo held at least one major title and several held multiple titles, meaning they were very good fighters even if some weren't quite at their best. Mayweather’s resume isn’t perfect but it’s damned good.
Breidis Prescott: The Colombian must gnash his teeth when he thinks about the success Amir Khan has enjoyed. After all, it was Prescott who stopped the UK’s most-gifted young fighter in one round in 2008. Still, Khan’s career has skyrocketed while Prescott – 3-3 in his last six fights – has struggled. Miguel Vazquez handed him his first loss two fights after his triumph over Khan. Kevin Mitchell easily outpointed him subsequent to that. And, on Saturday in Belfast, he lost a unanimous but controversial decision to Irishman Paul McCloskey, who was overwhelmed by Khan in April. Prescott also has failed in an ongoing campaign to lure Khan into in the ring again, the idea being that another sensational knockout would earn him some good cash and inject some momentum into his moribund career. Sadly for him, nothing is working out. Prescott is a good fighter, though. And good things usually happen to good fighters if they remain persistent.
David Haye’s quote: The former cruiserweight and heavyweight titleholder actually uttered these words about his unanimous-decision loss to Wladimir Klitschko in July: “Wladimir couldn't put me down and he had the referee, judges and fans on his side. I had no real chance. Uhhhhh, what did the referee, judges and fans have to do with that one-sided beat down? Those folks could’ve been members of Haye’s immediate family and Klitschko still would’ve beat the hell out of him. He had no real chance because he didn’t have the ability to compensate for the enormous size disparity. And now Haye has set retirement plans aside and says he wants another crack at a Klitschko, meaning Vitali this time. Could that quote be the first salvo in his campaign to goad the elder brother into a fight?
Roger Mayweather: “When you are on top like Floyd has been, they have to make something up to try to bring him down. Ask Oscar (De La Hoya), or ask any guy in boxing, if he wanted to trade and have the career that Floyd has had. I guarantee you that every one of them would say yes. Floyd don’t have to apologize for nothing.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org