WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO WINNING FIGHTS, BUT NOT FANS
By Benny Henderson Jr.
There is something to be said about a man who holds all but one of the major world heavyweight titles. As well as being generally recognized the world heavyweight champion, and now appearing on most pound-for-pound list, Wladimir Klitschko holds a record of 61-3 with fifty-one of his fights ending via stoppage. Only his brother Vitali, whom he'll never fight, has blocked him from claiming the last major championship belt. Wladimir is a thirty-seven year old Ukrainian who stands at 6‘6“ tall and goes by the nickname, “Dr. Steelhammer.” He has not tasted defeat since April of 2004, when he lost out to American heavyweight Lamon Brewster via fifth round stoppage. Since then, Klitschko has banged out nineteen consecutive victories, including wins over eight unbeaten contenders, as well as avenging his loss to Brewster. On this streak, he has accumulated the WBO, IBF, WBA and IBO heavyweight titles. So Wladimir Klitschko has clearly earned the right to be called champion, but, despite being victorious to the point of unstoppable at this point in his career, Klitschko has failed to capture the hearts of the fans, at least in America.
In the late sixties to 1981, the world was mesmerized by one of Klitschko's heavyweight predecessors, Muhammad Ali. In and out of the ring, Ali was a universal fixture, the most recognized man on the planet. And although the one many call, “The Greatest” has not been in the ring since 1981, Ali continues to be beloved and no doubt will remain so throughout the ages. And from 1985 to 2005, boxing fans was always on the edge of their seat when Mike Tyson took center stage. Win, lose, or draw, Tyson brought in the masses. Even non-boxing fans knew the name Mike Tyson.
Now Klitschko has ruled the division longer than Tyson reigned, and has garnered more titles than Ali, but, although being dominant in the ring, he lacks adoration and general public recognition, at least outside Germany and Eastern Europe.
It is simple: he is not as outgoing or outspoken as an Ali or Tyson, and although he lives a very honorable life and has been victorious in all but three of his bouts, there is no excitement around or in his fights. Taller than most of his opposition, Klitschko has a jab, grab, hit, hold, and lay on his opponents style. This was proven in his last outing, October 5th, when he defeated Alexander Povetkin in a clinch-fest. Povetkin wore out from having Klitschko literally lay on him to sap his strength.
The heavyweight division is not dead, but it is not up to standards of excitement it set in the past. And the Klitschko brothers are among the main reasons for this. I am not saying that Wladimir should start trash talking his opposition, get in trouble with the law like Tyson did, or change his style in the ring to be more entertaining. I am just pointing out the fact that although he will be in the Boxing Hall of Fame someday, he will never be a stand out heavyweight. He will only be known to the die-hard boxing fan. So, in some ways, it is a sad tale, although Klitschko is winning fights, he has not, and may never, win over the fans.
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