A Klitschko Brother Gets His Hardest Fight In Years, But Still Tops Dereck Chisora

Before Vitali Klitschko fought Dereck Chisora Saturday, Chisora gave Vitali’s brother Wladimir a face full of water, which he spat out onto the heavyweight champ in a typically classless move. During the fight, Chisora gave Vitali a handful — a harder fight than either brother has endured in many, many years, maybe going back to 2005, when Wladimir hit the canvas a few times against Samuel Peter. Chisora still lost the decision, and the face-spitting incident with Wladimir and weigh-in face-slapping move with Vitali on Friday won’t win him all that much respect as a person, but it ought to win him big respect as a boxer.

Vitali took the early rounds in typical Klitschko fashion, smartly controlling distance and dropping jabs, straight rights and left hooks on the forward-pressing Chisora. The pressure, though, was having an effect. One of the judges saw Chisora getting an even round against Vitali in the first four, but I thought the 5th was the first round Chisora won. He was landing a lot of thudding body shots, and he connected with the hardest blow of the round overall. The 6th was relatively close, as was the 7th, two rounds I had them splitting, first Vitali then Chisora. The 8th was maybe the only round I’ve seen since the Lennox Lewis fight where Vitali clearly lost it — Chisora was a ball of fury in that round, swarming Vitali.

Vitali recovered some to win the next few rounds fairly handily, but Vitali looked tired. Some might be inclined to blame his age, 40. Maybe it could be that. But I mainly blame Chisora doing all that body work. In theory, it’s what people ought to have been doing to the Klitschko brothers all these years, but it’s easier proposed than implemented. The difference for Chisora is that he absolutely wasn’t scared of getting hit by Vitali, and he did a lot of good bobbing and weaving and working in the clinch. It wasn’t nearly enough — Vitali’s still so skilled and tall and more physically gifted than he gets credit for that he ultimately won the fight with relative ease, even after giving away the 12th round.

Vitali, next, could face David Haye, although Haye will tell you Vitali doesn’t want it. But the face-spitting thing, no matter how uncool it was, may line up Chisora for a fight with Wladimir. That’s a mighty intriguing heavyweight fight — if Chisora can connect on Wladimir like he did Vitali, which is also easier said than done. But remember when we hoped Haye would inject some juice into the heavyweight division with his antics and potential ability to compete with the Klitschkos? Turns out we had the wrong Brit. Turns out it’s Chisora.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.