With no heavyweight rivals, Wladimir Klitschko must set his sights on history to stay interested. (PATRICK STOLLARZ/GETTY IMAGES)
DUSSELDORF, Germany -- Three thoughts from Wladimir Klitschko’s fourth-round knockout win over Jean-Marc Mormeck:
Well, that was predictable. I understand that there are no heavyweights that can reasonably be expected to challenge one of the Klitschko’s. But Mormeck was a terrible choice. The 39-year old former cruiserweight titleholder (with knockout losses to O’Neil Bell and David Haye on his résumé) had no business being in the ring with Wladimir. His heavyweight résumé consisted of wins -- decision wins -- over Vinny Maddalone, Fres Oquendo and Timur Ibragimov. He isn’t ranked in the top eight by the WBA (an organization that ranks Hasim Rahman as its No. 1 contender), WBO or IBF and isn’t ranked by the WBC at all.
This was considered a massive mismatch, and it lived up to its billing, with Mormeck driving his head into Klitschko’s chest trying to get inside and Klitschko pot-shotting him from the outside when he couldn’t. Mormeck connected on three -- three --punches before a brutal combination put him down and out in the fourth. In a word: pathetic.
So where does Klitschko go now? There is a mandatory title defense due against Tony Thompson -- the same Thompson who Klitschko knocked out cold in 2008 -- which Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, told me would take place in July. Down the road, Klitschko and his trainer, Emanuel Steward, both seem locked in on a fall fight with Chris Arreola, last seen getting his face carved up by Vitali Klitschko in 2009. Arrreola has lost some weight and put together a seven-fight winning streak, albeit against largely anonymous competition, and Klitschko told me in the ring after the fight that he believes he has proven himself worthy of a title shot. Klitschko’s motivation to fight Arreola is simple: He’s an American. Klitschko badly wants to fight in the U.S. and sees Arreola, who has an aggressive style, as part of the plan. Look for the two sides to work on putting that fight together in October or November, likely at Madison Square Garden.
Is there anyone else? Klitschko rattled off a list of contenders -- Tyson Fury, David Price, Seth Mitchell, among others -- after the fight but really, there is no one who can touch him. Klitschko is simply too big and too talented. His footwork is flawless, his power is concussive and his long, stinging jab is a potent weapon. To stay motivated, Klitschko must set goals. His win over Mormeck was the 11th straight defense of his title; Joe Louis holds the heavyweight record for title defenses with 25. Klitschko will be 36 this month, making Louis’ mark a daunting task. But with so many inferior opponents in front of him and no real threat on the horizon, he needs to strive for something.
-- Chris Mannix