NEARLY 60,000 people will watch three world heavyweight title fights in Germany during a 13-day period starting next month and there will not be one American fighter involved.
These are just the latest fixtures to add distance between the traditional home of heavyweight boxing and the place that has laid siege to the belts with a seemingly endless line of big men since about 2000.
The Klitschko brothers, who control three of the four recognised belts, have ruined a total of 16 American challengers during a 12-year spell of domination; Wladimir, the younger of the pair, has stopped or knocked out all 11 of the American men he has beaten in world-title fights.
"We are all bored with the Klitschko brothers," was one of Dereck Chisora's lines on Monday when he met with Vitali in London to promote their WBC fight in Munich on 18 February. It is a variation on a theme that a long and often distinguished line of fighters has been uttering since the brothers assumed dominance when Lennox Lewis retired in 2003 after stopping Vitali on cuts.
"The challengers arrive with their big talk and their plans," said Wladimir last summer before exposing David Haye's ambitions. "They get in the ring and they do nothing. What is wrong with them?"
The answer to Wladimir's question is not easy to find; good boxers travel to Germany with solid records, quality teams and their ambitions intact, and slowly and methodically they get a beating at the controlling fists of the brothers. The fights are repetitive to watch and predictable and most of the beaten men still have no idea how they ended up on the floor and crushed.
"They are faster than you think, they move better than you think and they just get all over the ring," offered Eddie Chambers, whose nickname Fast Eddie looked wholly inappropriate as he was jabbed into pulp and blasted out in the 12th round by Wladimir in 2010. By the way, over 51,000 people paid to watch and 13.7m watched live on TV, which was the biggest audience since the football European Championship two years earlier.
"I've watched a lot of their fights and their opponents are scared to death when they get in the ring," said Shannon Briggs in 2010. "I'm going to put the pressure on - I've got no fear." Briggs is right in some ways and he was brave, but he failed to put any pressure on and went the distance with Vitali. He was also in hospital for over a week with a series of facial fractures after the prolonged massacre.
"I heard what Briggs said before he went in with Vitali and what was the point of that? What did he prove when he was in hospital all smashed up?" asked Chisora. "I have nothing to prove about my bravery - I want to win and that is what the other fighters have forgotten when they get in the ring with the Klitschkos."
Chisora was twice meant to fight Wladimir but in 2010 the fight collapsed with less than 48 hours to go and last year it was called off a few weeks before the bell. Wladimir had valid excuses on both occasions but Manny Steward, the American who trains him, had concerns. "Dereck is a good fighter and let's just say I'm glad he's not fighting Wlad," Manny told me last month.
Could it be that Chisora, an Only Fools and Horses fanatic with a constant line in lunatic comments, is the one heavyweight with a chance of actually toppling a Klitschko's grasp on the title? We will find out on 18 February.
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