You Say “Boring,” I Say You Weren’t Watching

Sportswriters and broadcasters are fond of saying that the heavyweight division is exciting again, has been revitalized, reborn, is on fire.

Implied in this discussion (and sometimes a plainly spoken opinion) is that Wladimir Klitschko was boring, and thank God he finally retired.


I never thought so.

Over the decades the public has had very different reactions to intelligent, thoughtful fighters with a strong defense. Gentleman Jim Corbett was revered for his “scientific” style of jabbing and then dancing out of his opponent’s reach. Later, Jack Johnson was reviled for much the same technique. Ali did it to mixed reviews. Some thought he was the most talented ever; some said that he was not a “real” champion, because he didn’t “really” fight (meaning stand toe to toe).

In our times, Floyd Mayweather is hailed as a genius, while Klitschko is panned as dull.

From 2007–2011, Mayweather fought just one fight a year. Klitschko had nine fights in that span. Mayweather had zero knockouts the last five years of his career (ignoring the farce that was the McGregor fight). Klitschko had five knockouts the last five years of his career. Who’s boring?

Have you seen the left hook that leveled Kubrat Pulev? How about Ray Austin? It’s not a myth—Klitschko KO’d him in round 2 without ever having thrown his right hand. Could have had one hand tied behind his back. How about Calvin Brock? Derrick Jefferson? Chris Byrd?

Just stop there. Go look up those five fights on Youtube (no worry, I did the work for you above), then compare them to five fights by Floyd Mayweather. No disrespect to Mayweather, but I do not see how anyone could complain of Klitschko’s being boring while simultaneously admiring Mayweather. 

These were spectacular performances. Boring? Please.

“Well yeah, Klitschko had a lot of knockouts, but his style was boring.” Yeah, and predictable. He just kept winning; I hate that.

Tyson Fury leveled this charge at him during the build-up to their fight, then he beat Klitschko by devising and executing the most boring fight plan ever. 

My dad always said you gotta beat the title out of the champ. Fighting to stay upright, or fighting to a draw, or even an arguably close point win wouldn’t cut it. You either have to knock the champ out, or win the most rounds, and win them big, obviously and convincingly. They don’t give those belts away; you gotta beat it out of them.

Fury proved that wrong. He won by running away. I mean full credit for figuring out a winning strategy; no one else could do it. And by the rules of boxing, I guess he hit Wladimir more than Wladimir hit him . . . so, yeah. I guess. I think a different ref might have given them both warnings in the early going for not fighting, and maybe DQ-ing both of them after five or six rounds.

 “He was only “great” because he had no competition. The heavyweight division had a ten-year dearth of real talent.”

You sure? Povetkin and Pulev are numbers six and seven in the IBO rankings today. Klitschko beat both of those guys. I don’t think Samuel Peter was a marshmallow either. Or Tony Thompson, for that matter.

He beat 12 undefeated fighters in his career. That’s more than anybody else ever did. He successfully defended his titles 23 times. Could it be that he was just better than the rest?

As for boring, I know you all saw the Joshua fight. Boring? You think he woke up one day as a 41 year old and decided “I’m going to completely change my fighting style for this world title fight”? Please.

He had some boring fights, sure. His win against Ibragimov was a dull affair, as was his win over Povetkin, not to mention the aforementioned Fury bout. But have you watched Mike Tyson vs. James “Bonecrusher” Smith? Zzzz . . . zzzz . . . zzzz . . . .

Bigfoot Martin went ten rounds with George Foreman (*Yawn*).

Muhammed Ali had a number of lackluster bouts. Nobody ever said he was boring.

No, I reckon people didn’t like Klitschko because he did not fit the stereotypical heavyweight champion mold. First, he was white—the first white man to hold the title since Ingmar Johansen took it from Floyd Patterson in 1959. After Johansen there is an unbroken string of sixteen black American heavyweight champs from Patterson (who took it back from Johansen) till Lennox Lewis (who is British) broke it. 

Then along comes this foreigner, a white foreigner. A college-educated white foreigner who speaks four languages. A good-looking college-educated white foreigner who speaks four languages. And he was kicking ass.

And the search began for a great black hope just as they looked for a great white hope to take out Jack Johnson a century before. Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, Tony Thompson, Hasim Rahman, Eddie Chambers, Samuel Peter, David Haye, Jean-Mark Mormeck, and Bryant Jennings were all marched out and presented as “this is the one that will give Klitschko trouble; this is the one to take his crown.” And Klitschko beat them all. Seven of those nine by KO.

And he was never apologetic about it. He never said, “Sorry, I know I don’t belong here.” He looked like he felt right at home, and was having the time of his life.

I imagine some folks threw up their hands when it was another foreign white guy that finally took his titles. 

And Wilder came this close to beating Fury. I am stoked for that rematch.

But I guess no one has said that Fury is boring. Annoying maybe, but not boring.

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