Wladimir Klitschko: The closest thing to an All Time Great the Heavyweight Division has

By Derek Kelley: Wladimir Klitschko has been a fighter with his struggles like any other fighter. Despite the criticism Wladimir has faced, he has a better resume than anyone in the HW division. No one comes close to what he's done in the past 5 years barring Lennox Lewis. I believe Wladimir's career is looking a lot like Lennox Lewis's once did in the 1990's.. The stoppage losses and coming back from adversity clearly remind us of the last All Time Great the Heavyweight Division has had in Lennox Lewis. But before we have a look at an analysis of Wladimir's career so far, a look at future opponents will give us an idea of who could possibly be Wladimir's career-defining fight. Providing he can continue on his current path to greatness that is.

Chris Arreola looks like the obvious next opponent for Wladimir. In what I see in him he looks a little like Sam Peter but not near as overbearing in the ring as him. I also doubt Arreola can take a punch as well as Peter but that's for another discussion. Arreola is going to look like your typical Klitschko opponent come fight time. Struggling with the jab, unable to land much of anything and ultimately getting methodically shut out.

Alexander Povetkin was scheduled to fight Klitschko in December but was injured. I believe he would've gotten stopped but would've put up a better fight than Hasim Rahman did. He certainly has natural talent but I see him falling into the same category as most Klitschko opponents. Still this would be a big fight once it happens.

Nicolay Valuev would be a rarity if Klitschko fought him because he is a few inches taller than him. Still, despite possessing a good jab, Valuev is limited in skill and a good inside fighters can tear him apart. I don't see why Wladimir can't out jab him and be the first man to stop him, or at worst winning a UD. It'd be a big fight because of potential unification but it'd surprise me most if Klitschko lost the fight.

David Haye poses the biggest threat to Wladimir Klitschko than anyone in the Heavyweight division currently. The fast right hand is a danger if they meet. And Haye brings a lot of charisma and hype to a potential fight. Despite this, I see Wladimir out jabbing Haye and stopping him in a one-sided fight. This is the one fight that has the potential out of the current contenders to be a career-defining fight for Wladimir.

Wladimir Klitschko started his career off in Germany doing the usual prospect route destroying the opposition like his promotors expected him to. Up until the loss with Ross Purrity things were looking bright, even in that fight where Klitschko ran out of gas. Which was certainly an allusion to the future loss to Lamon Brewster But he got his career back on track, winning the European Heavyweight title and beating such notable opponents as former world title challenger Axel Schulz and Monte Barrett until he finally got his shot at the WBO Heavyweight title against Chris Byrd. Byrd had just given Wladimir's brother Vitali his first loss so you knew this fight was going to be hyped. Wladimir dominated the fight with Byrd winning the WBO title by Unanimous Decision while knocking Byrd down twice. After this fight Wladimir went on to defend his WBO title 5 times against notable opposition such as Ray Mercer, Francois Botha, and Jameel McCline. Wladimir stopped his challengers all by TKO. Wladimir was being hyped up for a fight with Lennox Lewis at this time. Corrie Sanders, an overlooked "easy defense" at the time was set to fight Wladimir. The unthinkable happens as Corrie destroys Klitschko in 2 rounds, dropping him four times. Suddenly the Klitschko hype is over and Wladimir looks like an amateur in the fight with Corrie. Even today this is one of the very few fights I'd be afraid for Wladimir to take in a rematch. Wladimir gets back on track with a new trainer in Emmanuel Steward and wins over fringe contenders Dannell Nicholson and Fabio Moli.. Wladimir then gets himself a shot at his old WBO title belt against unheralded Lamon Brewster. Wladimir dominates the fight until the 5th round when he is mysteriously gassed out and can't get back to his feet after the 5th round is over. At this time many people, including Klitschko fans were really unsure of what Wladimir could do at this point. I knew he had the skills and amateur pedigree to get back on top but time would tell. An IBF Eliminator with Sam Peter was a very exciting fight where Wladimir got up off the canvas three times to win a Unanimous Decision. Wladimir showed he can take a punch in this fight and also showed a lot of heart as well. Wladimir used his clinching tactics to keep Sam Peter at bay along with a steady jab. Emannuel Steward really had helped Wladimir's career come along quite well at this point. Wladimir's career had now come full circle as he was set to face Chris Byrd for his IBF Heavyweight title. Wladimir used his size advantages and a stesdy combination of the jab, right hand, and left hook to put Byrd away in seven rounds. Now back on top, Wladimir would go on to have all of his next 6 title defenses televised on HBO and no one seemed close to dethroning him. Wladimir easily dismantled his next two opponents in Calvin Brock and Ray Austin. And a rematch with Lamon Brewster was set. Klitschko was a lot more cautious and smart with his gameplan and dominated the fight, eventually forcing Brewster and his corner to quit after six rounds. This was great as Wladimir avenged his loss, if only he could do that for all his losses. Wladimir got his chance to unify the WBO title in his next fight with Sultan Ibragimov and did his part by winning a wide Unanimous Decision. Though I was disappointed that Wladimir didn't stop him and I felt Wladimir could've been a little more aggressive. But a win's a win and Wladimir did his part by unifying. Wladimir then faced Tony Thompson in his first defense of his newly won WBO title and stopped him in eleven rounds. In his next defense Wladimir TKO'd former world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman.

Currently Wladimir has six defenses of his IBF title and has come closer to anyone at cleaning out the division. He may not be the most popular fighter out there but he is getting the job done and is certainly closer than anyone to being called the Universal World Heavyweight Champion. Sure there really aren't any big names that could give recognition to a great legacy for Wladimir to face. He's come back from bad losses to position himself to be a king of the Heavyweight division. He is cleaning out the Heavyweight division much in the same way Roy Jones cleaned out the Lightheavyweight Division in the 1990's. I just don't see anyone in the current division at all that can beat Wladimir. Sure Wladimir doesn't have the best chin but he has better skills than anyone in the Heavyweight division. Holyfield is the only big name fighter from the 1990's left and beating him really wouldn't accomplish much other than name value.

I predict Wladimir will continue winning and defending his title until he is old and his skills are eroded or he retires. You never know what young fighter may be on the rise and give a fighter all they can handle. Wladimir has matured as a fighter ever since he got Emannuel Steward as his trainer. Unfortunately there isn't much interest from the general public in the Heavyweight Division but Wladimir is certainly the number one man there and will be an All Time Great if he keeps up what he's doing.

Article posted on 29.12.2008

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