By John F. McKenna (McJack)
It became evident early on in his fight with heavyweight contender Derrick Chisora that WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (44-2, 40 KO’s) was favoring his left hand. As the bout wore on it was clear that something was awry as “Dr. Ironfist” used his left hand less and less.
Throughout his career Vitali’s left jab has been his signature weapon. Klitschko on average throws his left jab forty times a round. Against “Del-Boy” Chisora however the WBC heavyweight champion was only able to throw his left jab a fraction of that. It should be noted that Vitali also uses his left hand as a range finder and successfully sets up at center ring to control both the distance and pace of the fight. In addition Klitschko uses his clubbing left hook off the jab to beat his opponents into submission.
EPIX commentators Dan Rafael and trainer Freddie Roach took not of the fact that Vitali was not using his left hand and wondered in the middle rounds whether or not he had injured it. As the fight progressed into the later rounds it was hard not to conclude that “Dr. Ironfist”, although still dominating the fight, was not utilizing his left hand effectively and that something was wrong.
Klitschko showed class in the post fight ring interview by not pulling a “David Haye” and making excuses for his inability to KO his granite chinned challenger. But just the fact that Vitali sidestepped the question increased speculation that he had sustained an injury.
Vitali did in fact make a trip to a Munich hospital after the fight. The news was not as bad as it could have been. Although Klitschko did suffer an injury to his shoulder it will not require surgery. That was a huge relief to team Klitschko. Vitali is not ready as of yet to hang up the gloves.
Klitschko spokesman Klaus Dittrich confirmed to ESPN.com that Vitali had injured his shoulder in the 3rd round. Dittrich was quoted as saying:
“Vitali suffered a small rupture of a ligament in his left shoulder, which is why he was not able to use his left hand as he wanted to use it.”
Dittrich went on to say that Klitschko’s injury occurred in the 3rd round, and that it will be treated with therapy. The injury will push back Vitali’s next title defense to September rather than a planned defense in June.
During Klitschko’s fight with Chisora commentator Dan Rafael paid him a compliment that has been slow in coming in the American media. Rafael referred to Klitschko as one of the greatest heavyweight champions in history.
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