There is a webcomic I’m fond of called The Order of the Stick that’s been running for nearly fourteen years. In it, a Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 Edition) group goes on assorted adventures to thwart resident Big Bad Evil Guy Xykon, an apathetic undead sorcerer with monstrous power at his disposal.
In one of the prequel books, Xykon delivers a monologue while smashing one of the setting’s strongest characters into the dirt that’s stayed with me for some time. The choice portion:
And now I see that planning doesn't matter. Strategy doesn't matter. Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can manage, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide. In any battle, there's always a level of force against which no tactics can succeed.
I honestly don’t know why this struck a chord with me, but it has. In both fiction and sports, I gravitate towards characters who compensate for technical shortcomings with toughness and hellacious amounts of sheer power. In a given fight devoid of personal investment, I’ll root for the puncher far more often than not. Hell, I actually like Doomsday, the guy who killed Superman by simply being too damn tough and too damn strong to put away.
In the UFC, my fighter of choice is John Lineker, a 5’3” ball of murderous intent so utterly devoid of self-preservation instincts that he was last seen talking trash as his opponent slammed elbows into his broken jaw. In boxing, it’s Dmitry Kudryashov.
Kudryashov is abnormally slow. His defense is atrocious. The concept of jabbing seems to come and go from his mind like a cat struggling to decide if it wants in or out. He has the gas tank and overall stylistic aesthetic of a Hummer freshly dredged out of a two-year stint at the bottom of the ocean.
And man, I don’t think I would like him half as much if he actually fixed any of that. They’re what make him special. Even the legendary sluggers of the past, like George Foreman, generally had at least some semblance of a gameplan and the skills needed to execute it.
Dmitry Kudryashov has gotten as far as he has solely by having a quality chin and punching like Ivan Drago with two smaller Ivan Dragos instead of fists.
Do I think he has a chance against Yunier Dorticos on September 23rd? Sure. Dorticos got tagged by a crude slugger in Youri Kalenga and Kudryashov stayed on his feet through a tactical carpet bombing from Olanrewaju Durodola. Do I think he has a chance to win the tournament? Hell no.
But he could. He could win against anyone. For Kudryashov, more than anyone else in the division and maybe anyone else in the sport, all it takes is one. I would love nothing more than to watch him poleaxe someone who’d spent round after round boxing circles around him.
There is a level of force against which no tactics can stand. Even with a loss on his record, I still want to see if Kudryashov can deliver it.