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Soviet Germans: Eduard Gutknecht


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Eduard Gutknecht's career got a sudden and dramatic ending in 2016, after collapsing after a fight with George Groves at Wembley. He had been fighting at 175 for a long time before that, even though he started out at 168. Although he never won a world title, he fought for it twice, once at 168 and 175. He also won the European light heavy title and made 3 defences of it, along the way beating some good and decent fighters. He was not a true puncher, but could win by accumulation-TKO. He could stop you down the stretch if he landed enough, in other words. He obviously had very good stamina, since his fighting alias was "Energy Eddy". He fought for 10 years as a pro and left behind a record of 30 wins, 13 by ko, 5 losses and 1 draw. He has only been stopped once, by a corner retirement due to a swollen eye. Here is the story of Eduard Gutknecht, a Soviet German fighter.

 

Born in Dzhetysai, near the town of Shymkent in southern Kazakhstan, on 19 March 1982, Gutknecht moved to Gifhorn, Niedersachsen province in Germany, while still a boy. He grew to be just under 6 feet tall (182 cm) and fought from orthodox stance. There is little or no info on his amateur career, so it seems it wasn't very long or noteworthy. He was also trained by Magomed Schaburow, at least in the early phase of his career, and later by Ulli Wegner. He turned pro in 2006, fighting as a super middleweight. He would remain undefeated in his first 18 fights and first won the German title in November 2008 on points against Christian Pawlak, before winning the vacant WBO Inter-Continental title by UD12 against Josival Lima Teixeira in August 2009. He made one defense of it in December same year, notably beating Karoly Balzsay (who had shortly before that lost the WBO title) by a split decision in Austria. On 17 April next year, he faced Robert Stieglitz for the WBO title-Stieglitz had been the man to take it from Balzsay by corner retirement, of course. Gutknecht got a point deducted in round 5 and went on to lose clearly on all scorecards. He then entered the light heavy division that same year and won his first fight there in July, by stopping Michal Bilak by TKO2. On 7 May 2011, he won the European title against Danny McIntosh by TKO8. He defended it three times, as mentioned above, against Lorenzo di Giacomo, Vyacheslav Uzelkov and Tony Averlant, all on points. He then lost the title while also fighting for the vacant WBO International title against Juergen Braehmer, back then the best German light heavyweight, losing by UD on 2 February 2013. After winning the vacant WBA Inter-Continental title by UD against Richard Vidal, he suffered his only stoppage loss in a fight against Dmitry Sukhotsky, 23 November 2013. His left eye got closed by the first punch in round 3 and after round 4 the fight had to be stopped because Gutknecht couldn't see thru it.

 

He had a few lower level fights before fighting Braehmer again, this time for the WBA title, 12 March 2016, in Neubrandenburg. Energy Eddy took the fight on five weeks notice after the original opponent Thomas Oosthuizen had to pull out. It was a competitive fight and Gutknecht opened each strongly by jabbing before Braehmer came on strong in the last minute and so snatched many rounds away. In the end, Gutknecht also got one point deducted for roughhousing tactics and again lost on all scorecards, 118-110 and 116-111 twice. He was not yet ready to call it quits, and after winning one more fight at 175 by KO3 against Artem Redko, a minor opponent, he surprisingly chose to go back down to 168 in order to fight George Groves for the WBA International title-this proved to be a fatal decision. The fight was held at Wembley Arena on 18 November '16 and Gutknecht suffered a bad beating, but lasted the distance, losing by 119-109 on all three cards. After the fight however, he collapsed in his dressing room and had to undergo emergency surgery for the swelling on the brain. He was in a coma for a longer period of time but eventually came out of it. However, to this day, he is unable to speak properly and has to be cared for by his wife. After it became known that he actually came into the Groves fight with a brain injury, Gutknecht and his wife sued the British Boxing Board for allowing him to go on with the fight. Gutknecht, it turned out, already suffered a subdural hematoma, probably after the Braehmer-fight. The outcome of his lawsuit is not yet known, but it was approved by the British high court. George Groves has visited Gutknecht after that fateful fight and has connected with his family in a good way. As of today, Gutknecht attends a workshop for the disabled during the day and for the rest of the time he is under care by his family. Such a sad ending for a warrior.

 

Gutknecht was already past his best before that Groves fight, but he still took it, which proves he had a heart of a true warrior and major "cojones". That deserves respect. Fighters who lacked the big punch were always at a higher risk of obtaining a serious injury, because they most often had to go all the way in a big fight, unable to end it with one or a few punches and thus finish it sooner. That is why Eduard Gutknecht was a SOVIET GERMAN BOXER!

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