Is Kevin Johnson the Man to Finally Turn Back Vitali Klitschko?
Well, a couple months back, a young undefeated American Heavyweight by the name of Chris Arreola tested his will against Heavyweight Champion Vitali Klitschko. As Vitali has done many times in the past, his opponent left the ring bruised, bloodied and in this case, with the first loss on his record. Kevin Johnson is the next undefeated American Heavyweight looking to shock the world.
Klitschko vs. Johnson Preview & Hype:
The last time we saw Vitali Klitschko (38-2) in the ring, his hand was raised and he had shattered the dreams of another Heavyweight hopeful. His opponent was given a brutal beating for 10 rounds before the fight was stopped, leaving the previously undefeated Chris Arreola balling throughout his post fight interview. Vitali can do that to a guy, illustrated by his incredible 37 knockouts in his 38 wins while never being even knocked down himself… In steps Kevin Johnson, “The Kingpin”.
Johnson is the latest American hopeful looking to dethrone one of the Klitschko brothers and if trash talk meant anything, he’d have a real good shot to do so. Johnson (22-0) has yet to take a breath, he’s too busy throwing insults and trying to prop himself up as the greatest thing since Sugar Ray Robinson. “I’ll shock the whole world in nine rounds,” Johnson said at Monday’s press conference. “The only people who could have beat me are Muhammad Ali or Larry Holmes.” Klitschko fired back with “Johnson should give me ten percent of his purse so I can pay his medical bills for him.” It didn’t end there. “I won’t comment on that,” Johnson responded. “I’ll wait until I have the title in my gym bag before I respond to that.” If this fight can live up to the trash talk prior, boxing fans will be in business.
This category isn’t really fair. One man is a potential Hall of Famer with as many wins as years on this earth (38) and the other is man is 30 years old but in the relatively early stages of a 22 win career. That won’t stop me from breaking it down anyway. Vitali has almost twice as many knockouts as Kevin Johnson does wins. Vitali has been in the ring with the likes of Lennox Lewis, Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders, Chris Byrd, Samuel Peter and Chris Arreola, just to name a few. Kevin Johnson has been in the ring with, well, Bruce Seldon, whose last fight was a KO loss to Fres Oquendo. This isn’t to say that Kevin Johnson, with a win against Vitali, couldn’t begin to build a terrific resume but at this point in time, Vitali’s resume is very impressive and Johnson’s is “green” to put it nicely.
Another category that couldn’t be more of a mismatch. Vitali has one of the most jaw dropping (or jaw shattering) KO ratio’s in boxing history (92.5%). When Vitali steps in the ring, fans can be pretty much certain that it’s not going to go 12 as Vitali’s only two losses were stopped before the final bell (a 6th round TKO loss to Lewis on cuts and a 9th round loss to Chris Byrd where Vitali retired on his stool). In contrast, Kevin Johnson is a fighter who relies on speed to get the job done. His KO ratio of 39.13% (9 of 22) is far below the average for a contending heavyweight. Makes you wonder about Johnson’s claims that he will stop Vitali in nine rounds doesn’t it? To Johnson’s credit, his last 3 wins have come by TKO inside of 6 rounds. Either way, Vitali rules this category as well.
Finally we get down to a phase of the fight where Johnson can actually compete and win. Johnson has quick hands for a heavyweight and enjoys throwing combinations. In order for him to have a shot in this fight he’s going to have to be quicker than ever. Vitali has quicker hands and better footwork than you would expect from a guy that is 6 foot 8 (Johnson stands “just” 6’3″) but this is clearly the attribute that Johnson must prove to be far superior than Vitali in. If he can do that in combination with fighting smart, he can potentially finds flaws in Vitali’s game plan.
Many people questioned Vitali’s toughness after he quit on his stool against Chris Byrd back in 2000. This stigma followed him until 2003 when he battled through a horrendous cut against Lennox Lewis, being up on the cards before they eventually stopped the fight to Vitali’s dismay. Vitali also retired from boxing in 2004 due to nagging injuries for 4 years but returned in 2008 and in his first fight back dominated Samuel Peter for the WBC title. Vitali has an iron chin and has never been knocked down. Johnson’s toughness is untested. He has yet to take a major risk in his career until now. Until I see this fight I can not comment on Johnson’s toughness but just getting in the ring against Vitali scores you some toughness points.
Klitschko vs. Johnson Prediction:
Take a look at the end result of Vitali’s last 5 fights. TKO8, TKO8, RTD8, TKO9, RTD10. What does this tell you? Coincidence? I don’t think so. It tells me that Vitali is a master of systematically breaking down his opponent to the point where they can not continue into the “championship rounds”. I don’t see Kevin Johnson breaking that trend. I see the fight breaking down similar to the way that Vitali’s fight with Juan Carlos Gomez did in 2009.
Johnson will come out aggressive, try and use his speed to get inside and land quality shots. When Johnson figures out that this isn’t near as easy as he thought it would be (as JCG found out), it will just be a matter of time before Johnson’s will is broken. Once the fight hits the middle rounds, Vitali will be cruising. He’ll be teeing off on Johnson and viewers will start wondering when the fight should be stopped. Kevin Johnson predicted this fight would end in nine rounds. I’m going to agree with him. Johnson will not answer the bell for the 10th.
KLITSCHKO RTD 9
Image Credit: Mike Boehm / ProBoxing-Fans.com