Wladimir Klitschko vs. Ruslan Chagaev Preview

Wladimir Klitschko was all set to defend his heavyweight titles against David Haye this Saturday. Haye injured himself during training and the grudge match had to be set aside. Klitschko still wanted to fight and in stepped Ruslan Chagaev on two weeks notice. HBO decided against airing Klitschko vs Chagaev but the fight has been picked up by ESPN Classic.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Ruslan Chagaev (WBO/IBF Heavyweight Title)

Wladimir Klitschko, 52-3 (46 KOs), has a different type of opponent in front of him this weekend in Ruslan Chagaev than in David Haye. Chagaev presents a different style than Haye, most obvious being his southpaw stance, but it’s not anything Wladimir hasn’t seen before. Two of Klitschko’s last three wins came against southpaws. It’s hard to avoid comparing this fight to Klitschko-Ibragimov and Klitschko-Thompson. Wladimir dominated both of those fights and that is likely the main reason why he had no problems in facing Chagaev on short notice. It’s no secret that Wladimir Klitschko’s best weapon is his jab. Expect that to be on display once again as the 6’6″ Klitschko will have a seven inch reach advantage over the 6’1″ Ruslan Chagaev.

So what makes Chagaev, 25-0-1 (17 KOs), different than Sultan Ibragimov and Tony Thompson? Chagaev is similar in size to Ibragimov but is probably lighter on his feet than both men. All three men are very deliberate, however, leading all open to be jabbed all night. Chagaev does have a good weapon in a strong left hook but he can’t be afraid to come inside. Chagaev was originally training to fight 7’0″ Nikolai Valuev before Chagaev was deemed “medically unfit” to compete. Chagaev’s training for Valuev helps him prepare for Wladimir as both are taller fighters that will be trying to keep Chagaev at bay with their jab. The biggest concern for Chagaev will be if he can press the action and be more active than Wladimir, undeterred by the heavy diet of Steelhammer jabs.

Fight Predictions

Corey: When David Haye pulled out, we missed out on what was sure to be a high-impact fight that probably would have ended in a knockout. With Chagaev stepping in, we got arguably the best replacement possible in terms of significance (he’s rated #3 and never lost the WBA title in a fight), but this appears to have gone completely the opposite way in terms of a good fight. The reason is that Wladimir has always been hesitant with southpaws. He was, after all, knocked out by one in Corrie Sanders. Klitschko could have stopped Ibragimov at any point in their fight, which went to a decision, and he certainly should have had Tony Thompson out of there before round 10. I see a slow, tactical fight, with Klitschko winning wide on points. That is, unless Chagaev tries to engage, in which case Wladimir could score a late rounds knockout. Hopefully, Chagaev isn’t satisfied to stand around and be pecked to death, but I’ve been wrong before with Wladimir’s opponents. I’ll say 118-110 Klitschko.

Trent: Wladimir Klitschko fights are always hard to predict. Corey noted that Wladimir is always hesitant with southpaws. True. But that is why Chagaev needs to jump all over Wladimir. It’s dangerous but Chagaev stands no other chance of winning this fight. In the buildup of the David Haye fight, Wladimir Klitschko took a lot of things Haye said and did personally. Haye just so happened to show up at a press conference with a T-Shirt that depicted the decapitated heads of both Wladimir and his brother Vitali. Wladimir wanted to hurt Haye. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I expect Wladimir to be fired up on Saturday. It was Wladimir that wanted to find a new opponent as opposed to waiting for Haye. Wladimir wants to fight and I expect him to take it out on Chagaev. The fight will end early. I’m taking Wladimir Klitschko by TKO in the 9th round.

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