Klitschko v Johnson: WBC heavyweight title preview
Another Klitschko fight, and another very long-odds opponent claiming that it is he who will triumph where many, many others have failed.
Vitali Klitschko vs. Kevin Johnson. WBC heavyweight title.
Saturday December 12, PostFinance Arena, Berne, Switzerland.
However, making a case for the opposition is always tricky when the Klitschko in question is the incredibly consistent Vitali as opposed to his less sturdy brother Wladimir, and Kevin Johnson would appear to be one of the weakest title challengers for some time.
In simple figures, Klitschko is awesome hence his 1/16 favouritism. Eighteen stone stretched over a near six foot eight frame and an incredible 37 knockouts from 38 wins. He may indeed have lost twice, but a torn rotator cuff against Chris Byrd and a horrific cut against Lennox Lewis meant they have hardly been conclusive.
Lewis is the best heavyweight of recent times, and had he not suffered such a serious injury against Byrd, he’d have gone on to win. When both fights were stopped, Vitali was winning on the scorecards.
Is Johnson’s only chance therefore to survive the early stages and hope Klitschko somehow injures himself?
In a word, yes. Johnson (13/2 to win) has stopped only nine opponents from his 22 wins (1 draw, no losses), so it would seem an impossibility to see him bothering a man who has yet to take a standing eight count, never mind being down and out, in 40 contests. That leaves Johnson with the mammoth task of outpointing a man who, over the course of ten rounds in his last outing against Chris Arreola, threw an unbelievable 802 punches. (In comparison, Manny Pacquaio threw 780 to beat Miguel Cotto over a further two sessions).
Klitschko may have the appearance of a typical heavyweight steamroller, grinding down opponents thanks to his sheer size, but were he not able to stop them he’d be outpointing his rivals with ease. He’s been ahead by some margin when the curtain has fallen in all of his recent contests, and you have to go back to 1999 to find a fight he won when he was behind on the scorecards; a second round knockout when Herbie Hide was brutally punished for having the nerve to steal the first.
Klitschko’s fights tend to have followed a similar pattern of late. He starts fast, throwing lots of stinging jabs and wearing the opposition down by the middle stage of the fight. At this point, the realisation will dawn that stopping him looks to be the only way a win can be secured, and the frustrated, beat-up opponent will be only too aware that they will not be able to budge him.
Both Sam Peter and the aforementioned Arreola lost having been retired, with Juan Carlos Gomez being stopped after turning his back on a Klitschko barrage in the ninth. Klitschko is more the type to use the early rounds to feel out an opponent, and despite Johnson’s unimpressive power Vitali would seem unlikely to take any risks associated with destroying his man very early.
That’s not to say he can’t, as he’s uncorked some huge shots in the past during the first few minutes of the fight, but I see no reason to change from my initial feeling about this fight; namely a one-sided beating dealt out by Klitschko, with Johnson’s corner or the referee showing mercy just after the sixth.