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Kevin Johnson became a footnote in the career of heavyweight Vitali Klitschko by being just the second man in Klitschko’s 39 wins to survive to the final bell. That was probably the most interesting part of the fight. Or maybe it was the chippiness Klitschko and Johnson demonstrated upon the ringing of that final bell, with both men bumping chests until brother Wladimir intervened and Johnson shoved him. Or… nope, those were the only options. One of the biggest bursts of noise from the 17,000 pro-Klitschko fans came as the clock got to around 1:30 of the 9th round, because that was the over/under for Johnson to get KO’d. Some people clapped, some people sighed, depending on whether their bet came through.
Watching people fight the Klitschko brothers is a little like handing a child a Rubik’s Cube and filming it. They’re probably not going to solve it, and it’s going to frustrate you watching them try. Also, it’s boring.
Johnson just never was in the fight. The major thing he managed was not to get hit nearly as much as other Klitschko opponents. He’s a good defensive fighter with good speed and reflexes. He landed some jabs, but if someone told me he threw anything more than than a couple right hands or left hooks, I’d tell you the CompuBox counters Saturday were on OxyContin or something. He didn’t win a single round on my scorecard. He hardly came close. Two judges scored it a sweep and one found a round to give the challenger. The only other thing Johnson did other than not getting hit and jabbing some was shaking his head and taunting Klitschko the whole fight, which would come in for a spot of mockery if the alternatives were any better. I suppose he could have cried, like Chris Arreola, or had a look of resignation on his face after the 2nd round, like every other Klitschko victim. What’s the difference?
I’m trying to find something good to say here about Klitschko other than “Yup, he’s still very good,” since we already all know Klitschko is equal parts good and boring, so here it is: Johnson’s defensive proficiency forced Klitschko to show some elements of his game he didn’t usually have to, like an uppercut when Johnson ducked forward, a hook to the body when Johnson covered up and a downward clubbing right when Johnson tilted his head to the side. I can’t say it was worth sitting through this fight to find out those things.
The top of the heavyweight division just looks like it’s going to keep being monotonous until the Klitschkos retire. Again, I admire their accomplishments and their willingness to fight so many top opponents. But when I actively root for a sucky, competitive division over a dominant reign, that’s borderline depressing.
[Programming note: I won’t be getting to the other fights of the night until late this evening or early tomorrow, owing to a previous engagement.]