This Vitali comeback is from left shoulder rehabilitation after holding back charging Dereck Chisora with the remaining right arm earlier this year. Vitali made some noises last year about 2012 being his last in boxing, so he scheduled a favored Kiev soccer stadium venue in tribute to his avid Ukrainian support. It goes without saying that as a Kiev mayoral candidate in upcoming elections, the fight can also be seen as a political platform to upgrade his profile with voters. Upsets happen often in politics however, his Ukrainian political opponents coordinated their collective muscle to get his fight booted in favor of a rock concert.
Fast forward, and now the fight is scheduled for September 8th at the Olimpiyskiy in Moscow. The Russian capital has become a new mecca of professional boxing in Eastern Europe as befits the rich boxing history of Russia and the surrounding Eastern European states.
Manuel Charr is an excellent young prospect, age 27 with a record of 21-0, 11 KO, but he’s never beaten a ranked fighter. He has the usual faded names of former prospects and contenders on his record while fighting his way up the rankings in Germany. His background is unusual though, having been born in Lebanon, not a place with much if any boxing history to my knowledge.
His weight runs around 235-250 range, perhaps a little heavy for his 6-4 frame, but pretty much the standard for heavyweights these days who only have to go 12 rounds at most these days. The thinking is that fighters and their trainers may feel the need for more mass to stay on their feet in the new era of scored knockdowns where a flash knockdown or touched glove count the same as a hard knockdown.
This fight was made possible because Charr has a WBC #7 ranking and was signable since he is now self promoted. The WBC #1 Chris Arreola wasn’t ready to commit to a challenge after being strafed out of sight by Vitali in 2009.
On paper and in reality, Charr chances lay somewhere between rail thin slim and none. It’s worth noting that historically, there have been some great fighters upset by untested prospects, particularly ailing great fighters. Perhaps also Charr has untapped potential just waiting for the right moment in time to express itself as when Neon Leon Spinks upset the mighty Muhammad Ali so many moons ago in the last millennium.
Regardless, we won’t be seeing Vitali Klitschko in the ring too much longer, but maybe he’s hedging his retirement in anticipation of bigger bouts to come with his recent comments. His mind’s eye says it’s retirement time, but his pocket book says it always has room for another run of the Klitschko mint.
Not a bad dilemma to be caught in. We should all be so lucky.