Vitali Klitschko stopped World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Samuel Peter in Berlin this past Saturday night. Peter, who was defending his title, had only one blemish on his record going into the fight, a loss to Vitali’s brother Wladamir.
Peter lost a decision to Wladamir Klitschko despite knocking him down three times in the match. Against Wladmir’s older brother Vitali, Peter did his best to impersonate a punching bag, taking an incredible beating while offering almost nothing in return. The end came when Peter refused to come out of his corner for the start of the 9th round. Vitali peppered Peter with countless unanswered jabs, hooks and straight rights. In this battle, Peter seemingly failed even to bring a knife to a gunfight: He wielded a spork, and unsuccessfully for that matter.
After four long years away from the ring, Vitali once again captured a piece of the heavyweight crown. What makes his feat even more newsworthy is that he and his brother Wladmir now, as they had dreamed, both hold heavyweight titles at the same time.
In the sports world, you learn to expect the unexpected, but two brothers being heavyweight champions of the world simultaneously is about as predictable as two brothers leading separate teams to Super Bowl victories as quarterbacks in consecutive years as Peyton and Eli Manning did. The questions to be posed naturally are, “Does this help or hurt the sport of boxing? Does this help the heavyweight division, which has seemed to lose its appeal?” The answer to both is a resounding “yes.”
In a day and age where any publicity can become good publicity, boxing actually scores a victory over mixed martial arts for the first time in a long while. The enigma that is or was Kimbo Slice makes heavyweight boxing look like a showcase of superior technical abilities. Anyone who knows boxing knows that recently, the heavyweight division has failed to produce a fighter worthy of mentioning since Lennox Lewis retired.
Lewis survived the end of his career on a good jab and a hard, straight right hand, as basic a combination as there is in the sport. The popularization of Kimbo Slice brought mixed martial arts back 10 years to the days of Tank Abbott, and boxing’s heavyweight division is now headed by two brothers with Ph.D.s.
In another meaningful fight, Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver seemed to be out of tricks against the rising star Chad Dawson in a match-up for Tarver’s light heavyweight title. Dawson earned a unanimous decision victory as he beat Tarver to the spot with his faster hands and superior technique. Tarver is known for his knockout victory over Roy Jones and his role in the most recent Rocky movie as Mason Dixon.
The two victories Tarver holds over Jones prove the old fight saying “styles make fights.” Aside from his wins over Jones, Tarver has struggled against top-level competition, losing to Bernard Hopkins, the former middleweight champion; he suffered a loss again on Saturday night against Chad Dawson, who during the broadcast of the fight was called the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today by Floyd Mayweather Jr.