For once, it felt like invulnerable heavyweight Vitali Klitschko was on the verge of getting a real challenge on Saturday: Odlanier Solis, in the best shape of his professional life (for what that’s worth), was picking off Klitschko’s jab with his gloves and landing a few hard right hands. Then, because Klitschko fights are apparently cursed to be fiascos forever, the ground gave out beneath this fight when Solis’ legs gave out beneath him in a way that remains flabbergasting hours later.
Toward the end of the 1st round, Klitschko landed a sweeping right that caught Solis across the top of his head, and it was not a particularly hard-looking punch. But Solis took a step back with his left foot, and it bent backward awkwardly. He tried to take another step, and the leg couldn’t connect with ground solidly, so he stumbled and fell, his right leg twisting slightly at an odd angle. He struggled to get up after immediately grasping his right leg, then when he finally rose, he limped away from the referee. The ref then stopped it. TKO1 Klitschko.
There will be theories that Solis quit — Epix’ Lennox Lewis profrered that one, among others — and I don’t rule it out. But what it looked like to me is that the Klitschko shot messed up Solis equilibrium, and when he landed, he hurt his leg. When he tried to get up, he wasn’t just struggling with bearing weight on it — he was struggling to grab the ropes with his hands and exhibited other signs of being woozy. I suppose he could have used the leg injury to fake his way out of the fight, but if you believe he was legitimately wobbled by the shot, and I do, I can’t figure out why he wouldn’t just use the knockdown as a guise for quitting and not try to get up at all. We saw this last week, too, with Ricardo Mayorga, who got knocked down and immediately cited a hand injury before retiring. Is there something manlier about begging out of a fight due to an injury as opposed to being counted out by the referee? If so, I don’t see what it would be.
Even when conditions are ripe for something good to happen in a fight featuring one of the Klitschko brothers, as this one was with Solis’ competitiveness early, it never happens. Aaargh.
As for the Epix broadcast: The best thing you can say is that they had cool graphics. The commentary was beyond sluggish — its lack of voice modulation or energy was more fitting for a golf brodcast — and we had way too much of it between fights. When the commentary you have to listen to for long stretches features Lewis prominently, you’re in for some serious annoyance. At one point he had some mixed metaphor about Father Time being on someone’s back and knocking. At least he was trying to be colorful. Also, there was no sound for a good several minutes. Also, apparently some people had trouble with the website. These things can be fixed; for now, it’s a good thing Epix is in the fight game, even if it got off to an inauspicious start both with the fight’s outcome and the technical execution.