V. Klitschko Stops Charr, Defends WBC Title

By: Heath Harlem
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WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko (45-2 41 KOs) entered the ring for what could be the last time in his hall of fame career against previously undefeated challenger Manuel Charr (21-1 11KOs ranked #7 by the WBC) and finished Charr in a 4th round TKO.  The fight was stopped by the ringside doctors in response to a nasty cut suffered by Charr, in a fight in which Klitschko dominated from the opening bell.

In the first round Klitschko began his domination using his superior reach to keep Charr at bay.  Vitali kept his hands down as if daring Manuel Charr to launch any type of attack.  Charr who according to compubox statistics is a slow starter, showed little interest in mounting any type of offensive effort.  Instead of attacking he responded to Klitschko’s jabs by moving around the ring attempting to keep away.  While it appeared that no serious power shots were landed by Klitschko, he did leave Charr with swelling near his right eye that would turn out to be a much bigger deal later.

The second round started with more domination by Vitali.  Keeping his hands down daring Charr to attack, Vitali continued to land jab after jab.  He continued to use his jab to set up power shots to Charr’s body.  In the second half of the round Manuel started to fight back showing signs of life for the first time in the fight.  In the closing seconds of the round Charr leaned in and was hit was dropped by an overhand right from his 6’ 7” opponent that he didn’t see.
The third round was another round dominated Vitali.  Keeping his hands down Charr continued to get hit with left hand jabs and right hand shots to the body.  The power shots to the body seemed to awaken Manuel as he showed signs of life but did little damage as Vitali fought through any attack.  As the round progressed it was more of the same with Klitschko being the aggressor and wining the round.

The fourth round started like the previous 3 with Klitschko coming out hands at his waist, using his jab to setup right-hand body shots.  At about the midway point of the round Klitschko hit Charr with a straight left that busted open the swelling near Charr’s right eye.  The blood seemed to energize Charr as he began to launch his most aggressive attack of the night landing scoring blows on Vitali for the first time of the night.  With 55 seconds left in the round the referee stopped the fight, and had the doctor at ringside examine the cut.  The doctor determined it was not safe for the fight to continue and Klitscho was declared the winner by TKO as an emotional Manuel Charr reacted by screaming at the doctor, referee, Vitali, and kicking the ropes.

With the TKO of Charr, Klitschko defended his WBC title for the 9th time.  If this in fact Vitali last fight, he won’t be remembered for title defenses, instead for how easily he and his brother dominated the heavyweight division for the past 10 years.  Vitali may go down as the most underappreciated fighter in boxing history.  In his 17 year career (with a 4 year hiatus) he has had only 2 blemishes on his record, Chris Byrd in 2000 when he was easily head of the fight and injured his shoulder, and Lennox Lewis in 2003 when he was ahead on all judges’ cards at the time the fight was stopped due to a cut.  There has been many questions on whether the competition Vitali has faced over his career has been up to par with other generations, but that cannot be used against him in evaluating his legacy as he has dominated every opponent put in front of him. It would be fitting that this would be Vitali’s last fight since it took place in Moscow, for generations seen at the center of political repression as Klitschko has dreams of using his boxing success to launch his political career with goals of ending corruption and being part of the democratic movement in his native Ukraine.  Ultimately political corruption may ultimately be Vitali’s greatest opponent and hopefully his biggest victory.  As for his boxing career, his total domination of Manuel Charr was just another example of what we have seen over Klitschko’s 17 year career, total domination.

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