Boxing Betting: Wladimir Klitschko v Marius Wach



In Die Hard, Hans Gruber tells us that when Alexander the Great saw the breadth of his domain he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer. That same feeling must surely come over the Klitschko brothers, having beaten senseless every contender sent their way. Like twin colossi of tedium they have towered over the heavyweight division for a decade in a largely incident-free reign defined by methodical late round stoppages of overmatched opponents in front of silently rapt German audiences for whom they are sporting royalty. Vitali looks as bored as the rest of us at the moment and his retirement seems imminent but younger brother Wlad still seems to have his head in the game.

The latest man to step up to the plate on Saturday night is Mariusz Wach, an unbeaten 32-year-old Pole who fights out of New Jersey. Having beaten the likes of Tyson conqueror Kevin McBride, 300 lbs lard arse Evgeny Orlov and the heavy-handed Tye Fields, he now stands one win away from the four title belts held by Klitschko. Most challengers to Wlad find themselves battling a height and reach disadvantage but at 6'7½ and boasting an 82" wingspan, Wach has a slight edge in both departments. This at least means Klitschko will face the novelty of not punching down to his opponent.

While this is certainly a change and makes this fight at least nominally more interesting than recent Klitschko encounters, it's not something I'm getting too excited about. The best way to neutralise Klitschko’s grab and jab style is not to create an inferior Frankenstein's monster like Wach in his image. You'd want a Joe Frazier or young Tyson – fast, mobile, with good head movement and destructive inside game. Klitschko's kryptonite is the late Corrie Sanders – a fearless guy with fast feet and hands, a big punch, not afraid to take three shots to land one. If you could give David Haye an iron jaw (and maybe an iron toe) he'd be a horrible matchup for Wlad with his disruptive rhythm, blinding speed and vicious hooks. In the stone-paper-scissors of boxing style matchups that's how David beats Goliath.

But the giant Pole is not going to be ducking underneath Klitschko's jab to punish his body or weaving inside to test his jaw with power shots close-up. The laws of physics and his own skillset mean his only option is to beat him at his own game and that really is a longshot. You can get Wach at 8.00 to spring the upset but I don't see how a slower, less powerful, less seasoned version of Klitschko can pull it off.

What is likely is that Klitschko will land fewer power shots than he usually does. Being the safety first fighter he is, he will be quite happy to make this a battle of the jabs, where he knows he has the advantage over Wach. Although the Pole's 55% knockout ratio is nothing special, Wlad would not want to walk on to any of the punches with which Wach felled big Tye Fields in March. This will be a thrust and parry fencing match. Wlad will be facing a version of himself, albeit a less dangerous one, and given that his usual tactic of pushing down on a shorter opponent to sap his energy is not an option, the really damaging power shots will come out a round or two later than usual.

As a result of this I expect Wach to last a little longer than most Klitschko victims. The 2.55 on offer for over 9.5 rounds is worth a punt. If Super Mariusz makes it 90 seconds into the ninth round you get paid out. As for Wlad retiring: don't bet on it. While there's a Tony Thompson on the horizon and Germans pack boxing arenas, Dr Steelhammer's surgery remains in session.