Even though we all knew he was living his last phase as a star fighter, it is no less shocking the announcement of retirement of Ucranian champion Wladimir Klitschko, from the sport that brought him fame and glory for more than 27 years. Although it is true that boxing gave him the glory, Wladimir also gave a lot back to the sport. Klitschko had lost by TKO in 11 rounds to the British fighter Anthony Sousa and was getting ready for the rematch when he made the decision that took many people by surprise.
After such a long time, boxing was already used to Wladimir Klitscko being involved in all the world title fights that took place since the first decade of the 2000’s. Klitschko retired with a professional record of 64 victories, 53 of them by KO, lost 5 , 4 by KO. During his amateur phase, he won multiple international championships, being the most outstanding the Gold Medal of the Super Heavyweights in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
During the last months of 1996, he joined his older brother Vitali to develop his career in Germany. He gained experience and accumulated triumphs under his brother’s shadow, until the moment came when they were almost leveled both in the amount of compromises as well as hierarchy in boxing. There came a time that when one of the brothers suffered a defeat, the other would take revenge by defeating the same contender. For example, on April 1, 2000 Vitali lost the WBO Heavyweight championship by surrendering in the 11th round due to an injury in his shoulder before the US fighter Byrd, and on October 14, six months later, Wladimir avenged his brother when he beat Byrd by unanimous decision, also in Germany. He reclaimed the title for the family.
On other occasion it was Wladimir´s turn to face an unfortunate ambush by Corrie Sanders, who knocked him out on March 8, 2003. It was also Vitali’s turn to avenge his brother when on April 24, 2004 he knocked out the South African Sanders at the Staple Center in Los Angeles. There was a time in which all versions of the Heavyweight category of all the main organizations were in possession of the two brothers, When Vitali retired in September 2012, Wladimir achieved definite leadership in the category, showing absolute control of the division.
Wladimir was the champion between 2000 and 2003, in his first era. THe he recaptured i ton April 22, 2006 by defeating the family’s old acquaintance Chris Byrd by KO in 7 rounds. Since then and until June 28, 2015 when he lost to Tyson Fury by decision, nine years, seven months and seven days went by. It was the second longest reign in the Heavyweight category since the immortal Joe Louis, who reigned for eleven years, eight months and eight days. During his two periods as world champion, Wladimir completed 19 defenses, only topped again by Joe Louis, who defended his title 25 times and by the fighter from Houston, Texas, Larry Holmes who had 20 defenses.
With the greats of other eras
It is not easy to compare the Klitschko brothers with the so called heavyweight greats of all times. In the past, there were not as many technical advancements in the physical and psychological preparations as we have nowadays. A new element surfaces, gigantic champions that measure 2 meters in height and above. There were great champions who measured about 1,80 meters, such as the accomplished Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier and Rocky Marciano. There were great fighters who measures about 1.90 meters, like Muhammad Alí, Ken Norton, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Larry Holmes and then came those who go near or beyond 2 meters, like Lennox Lewis, the Klitschko brothers, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua.
It will always be up for discussion that the tall would have endured the punches of the little ones like Marciano, Frazier and Tyson. It will also be said that the latter would receive the punishment from the tall ones practically from the second or third floor. Those who measured between 1.80m and 1.90m would be between two waters. The truth is that the Klitschko brothers are among a new generation of Giant Champions and time must pass before they can be judged and subject to comparisons.
Another truth is that Wladimir Klitschko left us cold with his retirement announcement, He says he is already past this phase and now he will dedicate himself to help those who need him. Maybe he will cooperate with his brother Vitali, at Kiev’s city hall. The sick fantasy of a fight between the two has vanished. It was proposed a few years back, with a $100 million bag for each, to which the brothers replied: “Our mother’s heart would not resist that fight”.
Good luck with your new destiny Wladimir. Wherever your duties may take you, you will also be a champion.