Having seen a number of Heavyweight fights, you always know that there’s a chance of an early stoppage – possibly more than in other divisions. Bruno knocking out Gerrie Coetzee is one that I remember particularly. However, you don’t usually expect to see someone stopped without appearing to have taken a hard shot. That seems to be what happened tonight in Cologne.
Odlanier Solis was to be sure a big underdog, and seeing Vitali extend his record since returning to the ring was hardly unexpected. None of what goes on here should take anything away from the elder Klitschko; Vitali came in looking in his customary good condition, and while Solis did land one or two punches that suggested he had come to fight, Vitali didn’t looked troubled by them. It is hardly his fault if his opponent falls over and can’t continue.
And in many ways that seemed to be what had happened. After a few cautious exchanges, Solis seemed to stagger backwards, went to ground, and proceeded to hold first left leg, then right; ruled as a knockdown by the Referee, he was then given a nine count as he tried to stand on legs that were simply unable to support him.
While some were trying to claim that Solis went down from a legitimate shot from Klitschko, that appeared to be dubious at best. There was a shot to the top of the head that saw Solis covering up a few seconds before, and there was a glancing blow as Solis staggered backwards – but even Vitali seemed not to believe it was a punch that sent Solis down, as he chased the Cuban across the ring and had to be ushered to a neutral corner; after the fight was waved off he seemed to be almost angry, fully aware that this would not be what the watching crowd – whether in the arena or watching on TV – were wanting to see.
Speculation was rife as to what had happened. Was Solis carrying injuries into the ring with him? Did he slip and twist an ankle or knee? Did he cramp up?
My initial feeling was that it should have been ruled No Contest, and my next reaction is that whatever may have happened, this does boxing no credit whatsoever. Vitali certainly didn’t seem to find the result satisfactory, but the wider audience of boxing fans – who don’t always find the grinding, safety first style of either Klitschko brother entertaining to watch – will certainly not be inspired by this to look again at the heavyweight division.