Is It "The Lionheart's" Time?
|Klitschko Vs Leapai - Oberhausen, Germany, Sat 26th April.|
Wladimir Klitschko is the heavyweight champ of the world and has dominated his weight class for over a decade. He has a lot of critics, there are those who think his style is poor, there are others that say he is a champ in a very poor era.
Whatever the thoughts and opinions the facts state a record for the WBO, WBO "Super", IBF, WBA "Super", The Ring and IBO Heavyweight champ which reads 61 wins - 3 losses, 51 wins by KO. Those are the stats of a champ which must be taken seriously and who, in my opinion, must be respected.
Wlad has a huge advantages in weight, height and experience over his next opponent. Far too much for many to even care about this fight. BoxNation in the UK have decided against showing it and instead it will be shown free on Eurosport in the UK.
In recent fights Klitschko has decided to use his sizable adavantages to jab and hold/push down his opponents into submission whilst sending most of the watching world into a very deep sleep. This is where the heart of the criticism against him lives. He has ability and a huge amount of power yet doesn't "use" it. Is this a fear being taken out with a single shot? A lot of people in the fight game believe him to have a glass jaw, his 3 losses all coming from a TKO, perhaps Leapai can find out and answer this question once and for all?
Alex Leapai is the much travelled (some would say journeyman) fighter from Samoa via Australia. There is little much known about him outside his the southern hemisphere, perhaps this is about to change...
His last fight was against Denis Boytsov in an eliminator for the WBO mandatory shot, not many gave him a chance. Importantly though he did, winning with a unanimous decision over 10 rounds.
His record of 30 wins - 4 losses & 3 draws , 24 wins by KO looks alright on paper, yet you have to remember the last of those losses came against the very limited fighter Kevin Johnson in 2012 via a 9th round TKO. If "Kingpin" can stop him what chance does he have against the current best active heavyweight on the planet?
Leapai is 6 foot Vs Klitschko's 6ft 6in, he weighs around 235 pounds Vs Klitschko's 245 and has only had just over half the amount of rounds Vs Klitschko's record and against much less able opponents too. His fight before Boytsov was against the world number 170, hardly fills you with confidence of his chances or with the desire to watch it? Looks like a Klitschko walk over? Perhaps?
One thing you can not doubt is Leapai's supreme confidence going into this fight, he has been quoted in the couriermail.com as saying -
“I’m really fired up to win this. I’m going to prove to the world that anyone can turn their life around and be successful if they work hard and surround themselves with good people.
“I want people in 100 years to remember that a Samoan-born Aussie came out of nowhere and beat one of the best heavyweights of all time. It’s been a long road to get to this stage but I will make sure the long ride has been worth it.’’
“Alex will be physically much stronger than Klitschko and he will hit much harder than him, too,’’ Dan Tewson (Leapai's strength coach) said. “He really believes in himself and that’s half the battle already won.’’
Leapai has power that is true, some will say he hasn't fought anyone of any stature, I would bet those same people say Deontay Wilder is the future. The same accusation could be aimed there - another time though. The point is Leapai has been given his shot as a mandatory and whether people agree or disagree, Wlad has almost always fought his mandatory irrespective of the abuse and/criticism he receives for it and this mandatory carries power.
Klitschko has recently said he wishes to remain unbeaten for many years to come yet and surpass the undefeated 12 year reign of Joe Louis, however he has also said that his thoughts are very much with his brother Vitali, the people The Ukraine and their current struggle.
Recently telling couriermail.com -
“It’s a bizarre situation, My body has been training at the camp in Austria, but my mind is often with my brother and our compatriots in Ukraine.” adding ominously -
“I am still extremely hungry and better than ever. A few years ago, I thought I couldn’t improve, but my mission is still a long way from over. I want to box on for ten more years. I feel the combination of experience, athletic-ability, technique and strategy makes me the complete professional.”
So we have the best heavyweight of his generation against one of the alphabet challengers. Does Leapai stand any chance?
Yes, of course he does, this is boxing, heavyweight boxing.
For those who have seen Leapai fight you will know that he has devastating hooks and uppercuts. Should he be able to throw one which connects with Wlad during or just after a "clinch" then the fight will fall in his favour. He has to get beyond Klitschko's jab however, which will be difficult and will more than likely mean having to feel it on more than a few occasions. If, and that is a huge if, he can get beyond that he has a chance.
Leapai has to stay disciplined against Klitschko. One mistake and he will be punished. One lunge or one defensive error and Klitschko's power could mean the end of the night for Alex.
I think it is going to be a very boring opening 3 or 4 rounds for the casual fan, the purist might liken it to a game of chess. As the fight progresses I see a lot of the Klitschko jab and clinches and pushing down on the smaller man however, eventually I see an explosive finish - Will Leapai be crowned the first Australian heavyweight champ for 106 years ? - I think there is every possibility that he may be.
I wish them both well...