Brock Klitschko

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Shannon Briggs ended the Eastern European stranglehold on the heavyweight boxing championship picture last Saturday with a late fight KO of Sergei Liahkovich.  Briggs, who was behind on most observers’ scorecards, won the fight in emphatic fashion by no only knocking his opponent out but through the ropes and out of the ring.  There’s an old saying that “lightning never strikes twice” but there’s at least the opportunity for a similar occurrence coming up this weekend when Wladimir Klitschko defends his claim to the world heavyweight title (he currently holds the IBF belt) against undefeated Charlotte, NC native Calvin Brock at Madison Square Garden in NYC.  The fight will be televised on HBO beginning at 10 PM EST.

Klitschko has done a decent job rebuilding his career under the tutelage of legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward, and has now won Four straight fights en route to his matchup with Brewster.  He dominated a once talented defensive fighter in Chris Byrd last time out, decisioned powerful but limited Sam Peter before that.  He also has wins over DaVaryl Williamson and lightly regarded Eliseo Castillo.  Before that, “The Steel Hammer” was better known among boxing aficionados as “The Glass Jaw” based on two knockout losses to Lamon Brewster and Corrie Sanders.  Manny Steward claims that Klischko’s chin was never the problem; rather it was his stamina which led him to punching himself out to the point of fatigue leaving him fair Game for his opponents.

When Klitschko fights a smart fight, pacing himself and working behind his powerful jab he’s a formidable opponent.  His intrinsic talent is enhanced by having the cagy veteran Steward in his corner, and when he executes Manny’s tactical designs he’s able to leverage his considerable skills and minimize his liabilities.  At some point, however, many observers expect that Klitchiko will revert to more of his old form either by failing to pace himself or by not following his fight plan.  If and when this happens, there’s a good chance that Klitchkio could get knocked out again.

It’s really hard to get a read on Calvin Brock at this point due to his limited experience with top notch opposition.  He comes into this fight with a glossy 29-0 record, but with few opponents that even hardcore boxing enthusiasts would recognize.  His most impressive wins are arguably against Clifford Ettienne and Jameel McCline.  He’s obviously not as big as the gargantuan Klitchiko, but has decent size at 6’2″ (compared to Wlad’s 6’6″) and reach at 77″ (to Klitchiko’s 81″).  He’s a real smart guy–one of the rare fighters who actually has a degree in Business Administration from UNC-Charlotte.  That’s the origin of his nickname “The Boxing Banker”.

And that nickname is very apropos, since Brock is a smart, counterpunching fighter who will do what it takes to win a match.  He’s a very patient fighter who waits for opportunities to manifest themselves and doesn’t take chances.  He moves well for a man his size and has good handspeed.  He’s also shown a lot of heart and toughness–best example of this was his fight against a guy with similar size to Klitchiko, 6’6″ Jameel McCline.  He was caught early on with a perfect punch that sent him down for the first time in his career.  He couldn’t have responded to this setback any better than he did, taking the fight to the giant the rest of the way en route to a victory by unanimous decision.  In other words, he’s shown the ability to get off the mat and get back in the fight, something that has eluded Klitchiko in his KO losses.

In conclusion, this is a much closer fight that the current price indicates.  In Calvin Brock we’re getting a smart, tough and skilled fighter against a favorite in Klitchiko that has shown considerable in-ring liabilities including mental and physical lapses in the past.  Brock is a very live dog, and at the current Pinnacle price of +351 he’s definitely worth a shot.



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