Heavyweight fighters coming in a vast array of shapes, from lean and tall, to short and fat and everything in between. On March 19th the contrast in body shapes will be obvious as the much tall, lean Vitali Klitschko faces the much shorter and fatter Odlanier Solis. The contrast in size will be almost as big as the contrast in style and experience though it’s probably the most interesting heavyweight title fight we’ve seen in a long time.
Vitali Klitschko is greying around the edges, he turns 40 later this year, he’s thought to be slowing, though his record of 41-2 (38) is one of the most impressive in the division. He has gone over 7 and a half years since his last loss (a TKO loss to Lennox Lewis) and even with a 4 year hiatus caused by injury he has been successful in 8 title fights since that loss. Vitali’s has been spending the last few years beating US based pretenders including veteran Shannon Briggs and unbeaten challengers Chris Arreola and Kevin Johnson. As well as that both Juan Carlos Gomez and Samuel Peter, both living in the US, were also beaten by Vitali and now Miami resident Solis joins the US based fighters trying to take the WBC title from Vitali.
Solis, a Cuban amateur star, is 10 years younger and has just 17 professional fights to his name (with 12KO’s) though is vastly experienced in the amateur side of the sport. A 3 time World Amateur Champion, an Olympic Champion and a 2 time Pan Am games champion, Solis was undoubtedly the top “big man” around at the time. Though since he was a top amateur things have changed, most notably his size which has gotten rounder. His 6’1” frame was never supposed to carry around 260lbs (giving him a BMI of 34.3 or to those who want things in simple terms obese). He’s giving away around 6 inches in height and around an inch in reach, meaning that being obese will not help Solis.
Style wise Solis is skilled, he has surprisingly fast hands and can move well inside the ring and he also has decent, but not terrific power. Klitschko has a busy style, that like Solis shows surprisingly quick movement and heavy hands, most notably the straight right that bounced off the head of Shannon Briggs with alarming accuracy. The big difference is that although Solis is somewhat text book, Klitschko has been described as robotic in offence and like cricket in defence with very jerky movement that’s not smooth but also not easy to catch clean. The big difference is stamina and work rate, Solis look exhausted against Ray Austin after 6 rounds and has never fought at the pace Klitschko brings as a professional, Klitschko doesn’t just have a busy work ethic but one that doesn’t seem to slow. Once Klitschko gets go he seems to stay going and 12 rounds never seems to be a struggle for the big man who dominates opponents and breaks them down.
Some feel that Solis may be able to get inside Klitschko and wail away at the body “chopping him up” though Solis isn’t fast enough, busy enough or good enough as a professional and instead when he starts to move his mass to chase the elusive body of Vitali he’s going to be tagged. When he tires he’s going to be a sitting duck for Vitali’s straight right which helped to break Shannon Briggs’ face. Expect Solis to be stopped in the latter rounds, exhausted and being tagged with everything thrown by Dr Ironfist.