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Wladimir Klitschko: Too Good to Scorn

August 2nd, 2017 · No Comments · Boxing

As a boxing fan, I wanted to dislike Wladimir Klitschko. I really did.

It seemed as if he and his brother took over the sport of boxing around 2005 — and rode it into irrelevance.

But I couldn’t really have an issue with Wladimir … or with Vitaly, his elder brother (and mayor of Kiev).

All they did was train diligently, fight all comers, bring quite a bit of actual science to the “sweet science” and stay off police blotters.

In his last fight, Wladimir showed all the courage anyone could want, before 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in April, where he climbed off the canvas three times, knocked down his opponent, Britain’s Anthony Joshua, but ultimately lost when the referee decided the Ukrainian had taken enough punishment, in the final round.

He announced his retirement from the fight game today and did it via a video that seemed to show us how a big and smart heavyweight could be so difficult to beat.

But, yes, he was hard to watch, at times. And, yes, his long reign may have done damage to the sport of boxing, placing an outwardly dull, even placid man at the top of the fan-pleasing top division.

The heavyweight division has never been a place for little guys but the Klitschkos took it to another level.

Wladimir stood over the division in part because he stood 6-foot-6 and absorbed the lessons of Emanuel Steward, who turned Klitschko into a defense-first champion. Which seems an odd thing for a boxer nicknamed “Dr. Steelhammer.”

He was the heavyweight champion for 10 years running, from 2005 into 2015, defending his title 28 times from above — as he towered over most of his opponents, who struggled to get inside his defense and usually got knocked out trying to do so. (Fifty-three of Klitschko’s 65 fights ended with him knocking out his opponent. He finished 64-5 overall.)

Tyson Fury, a colorful/crazy Briton, finally ended Klitschko’s reign at the top with a unanimous decision in April of 2015, a result which augured at least one rematch and probably two. But Fury could not control his inner demons long enough for a second fight to come off and that is where Anthony Joshua came in, in that big fight in London.

It was the worst beating Klitschko ever took and came at age 41, and he took the hint that it was time to go, before he took too many punches to the head.

I appreciate everything he did during his career, and that he did things right.

I lament that he wasn’t flakier or crazier or louder. All he did was win, and we will appreciate that more as the years go by … while hoping the heavyweight division can recover from what he did to it.



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