Leading into his world heavyweight title bout, Alex Leapai promised the world he would show his championship heart. He lived up to his claim on Saturday night in Oberhausen, Germany, refusing to take a backward step even when it would have been wise.
From the outset, the world heavyweight title fight followed the predicted formula. Leapai’s opponent, Wladimir Klitschko aka Dr Steelhammer, was looking to use his reach advantage behind a stiff jab and jarring right hands. Leapai was looking to use his low centre of gravity, keeping his shoulders low, to give Klitschko an elusive target.
The first round was tentative, Leapai rushing in low behind a flicking jab, and Klitschko mainly pawing with his left and tying Leapai up when he got too close. Apart from a flash knockdown, which was as much a product of Leapai being off balance as it was of two left hands, it was largely uneventful.
By the second round, Leapai had begun to engage in the worrying habit of standing flat-footed in Klitschko’s strike zone, allowing Klitschko to get off with numerous long, crisp jabs and the occasional right hand.
The pattern continued through the third and, by the fourth, Klitschko was looking to do damage with his right. Leapai was plodding after him, unable to cut off the ring, and mainly reduced to swooping in with the occasional wild haymaker. Despite being visibly buzzed by several rapid fire combinations from the champion, Leapai made it to the bell at the end of the fourth.
The writing was on the wall by the start of the fifth. Even those fabled words, “puncher’s chance”, seemed long forgotten. Leapai’s attack had been entirely neutralised by Dr Steelhammer’s pulverising offence and was now standing in front of him, ready to be hit.
Leapai first went down from three right hands, was up by the count of eight, and then dropped again by a six-punch flurry. Leapai fell under the ropes and Eddie Cotton waved it off. Klitschko won via fifth round TKO.
Klitschko’s record now improves to 62-3, while Leapai’s drops to 30-5-3.
Earlier in the evening, South Auckland heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker prevailed in seven rounds over Brazilian Marcelo Luiz Nascimento. The fight was stopped with Nascimento sustaining heavy punishment while remaining upright. Parker improves to 8-0 with seven KOs. His previous opponents include former Kiwi heavyweight champ Afa Tatupu and multiple world title challenger Francois Botha.
Also in action was London 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist Oleksandr Usyk of the Ukraine, in his third professional bout against Ben Nsafoah. Usyk stopped Nsafoah in the third, while Nsafoah switched between orthodox and southpaw stances 29 times.