Boxing: Klitschko's victory is efficient but dull

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The Independent Online

The professional boxing business is thriving in Germany, where a crowd of 61,000 people was entertained on Saturday night in a heavyweight championship fight at the Veltins Arena when one man was hit just once in nine completed rounds.

Wladimir Klitschko retained his good looks and his World Boxing Organisation, International Boxing Organisation and International Boxing Federation championship belts when Ruslan Chagaev's cornermen decided that enough was enough at the end of round nine. Chagaev was cut, bemused and a few million euros richer, but his reputation is ruined.

There was not one messy moment, not one moment of drama and the only punch that landed on Klitschko's whiskers was thrown after the bell sounded and was therefore illegal!

Chagaev did his best to hurt Klitschko's hands, by sitting on the ropes with his ears cradled between his gloves, and offering the towering Ukrainian the chance to land every jab and all but two of his thunderous right hands. If Klitschko missed, he held on for dear life to avoid being hit.

Chagaev actually entered the ring as one of the World Boxing Association's two current world heavyweight champions, which only further complicates the distress all lovers of heavyweight boxing must be feeling. Chagaev, a former world amateur champion, fought a clueless but defiant fight and was hit with jab after jab until his desire joined his tactics in a void.

Klitschko never took a single risk, even when Chagaev retreated to the ropes ready to quit, and at the end was still not fully extending his punches in case Chagaev unleashed a short counter. Some might argue it was a magnificent performance by Klitschko, but heavyweight boxing should be about excitement, risk and the unknown.

Chagaev, to further hurt the division's tarnished image, has beaten the WBA's other incumbent, the massive Russian Nikolay Valuev, and has also, just like Klitschko, taken care of several hapless American heavyweights. The American heavyweight business is in the sporting sewer, with fighters from the last five years clearly lacking the aptitude, the attitude and the appetite for the fight. Meanwhile, a conveyor belt of big, stiff lumps from the former Soviet republics (Chagaev is from Uzbekistan) is still producing talented but dull fighters.

London's David Haye, who many see as a potential saviour, was due tofight Klitschko on Saturday but withdrew two weeks ago and will have to wait for a chance. Klitschko ended Haye's hopes of a quick opportunity, saying: "Haye should get in line and fight with his fists and not his mouth." Haye had vowed to knock out Klitschko, who he insists is scared of being hit.