All talk-no action: Klits/Brewster

All talk and no action: Bettors steer clear of Klitschko-Brewster rematch

Fri, Jul 6, 2007

By Jason Logan

Las Vegas books fear this Saturday's heavyweight title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Lamon Brewster will be a carbon copy of the last one – a headache.

The controversial first meeting in 2004 left Las Vegas books scrambling. And with bettors staying away in droves this time around, the rematch is threatening to be another head-scratcher.

This weekend’s IBF heavyweight fight is barely drawing any betting action, according to boxing linesmaker Joey Oddessa. Klitschko (48-3, 43 KOs) opened as a –500 favorite but has since moved down to –450. Brewster (33-3, 29 KOs) is listed as a +300 underdog despite winning the last meeting three years ago.

The decline of the heavyweight division, with UFC 73 competing for attention on the same night, could be pushing people away from this fight. However, the surprising lack of interest in the bout is stirring up memories of one of the craziest Vegas nights in recent years - April 10, 2004, when Klitschko fought Brewster for the vacant WBO heavyweight championship.

Oddessa calls the 2004 fight "one of the most bizarre bouts and line movement patterns in history."

“Wlad opened -1100 and about 48 hours before the fight the odds began dropping dramatically. At post time Wlad was only a 3-1 favorite. Some Vegas casinos took the bout off the board because of irregular betting patterns.”

The fight that followed made the strange betting patterns even more suspicious. Klitschko dominated the first four rounds of the fight, scoring a knockdown in the fourth. Brewster was saved by the bell and opened the fifth with a flurry of power punches and drove Klitschko down to the canvas.

The Ukrainian-born fighter beat the count and survived the end of the fifth only to collapse after the bell. He was exhausted and incoherent forcing the referee to call the fight in favor of Brewster. Klitschko’s sudden condition led to rumors that Brewster’s camp had poisoned their opponent. The allegation was never proven.

"I don't even want to talk about it. It doesn't make sense,” Klitschko recently told ESPN’s Dan Rafael about the possible drugging. “It makes no sense to discuss it, what happened in the past. I am looking forward to this fight."

Since the TKO loss to Brewster, Klitschko has become the premier heavyweight in the division. He was won his last five fights, beating Chris Byrd for the IBF title in April 2006.

His jab is his strongest weapon and in his most recent title defense against Ray Austin, Klitschko didn’t throw a single right hand, winning the bout by way of knockout in the second round.

“I think (Klitschko) has matured a bit as a fighter,” says Oddessa. “While the heavyweight division is not overly deep in talent, he has cemented himself as the best and has taken the responsibilities that come with it. He appears to have recommitted himself to the sport.”

Brewster, on the other hand, has not had the same success. The heavy-handed American defended the WBO title three times before losing it to Sergei Liakhovich last April. After the decision defeat Brewster revealed he had an eye injury that required surgery. This Saturday is his first fight in over a year, a similar situation to the original meeting when he was coming off a 13-month layoff.

“I never thought much of Brewster, but he does have a ton of heart and he can punch.  Those two things make him a threat to anyone he steps into the ring with,” says Oddessa. “Brewster is a classic overachiever.  He can make any heavyweight look bad.”

Fight fans can watch this Saturday’s IBF title bout on HBO’s World Championship Boxing at 5 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast live from the Cologne Arena in Cologne, Germany.