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How Good Was Vitali Klitschko?

14.11.05 - By Jim Amato: He has walked away from the most prestigious prize in all of sports. I was shocked but Vitali Klitschko is his own man and for whatever reasons he had, the decision has been made. How good was Vitali Klitschko? Where will he fall when rating him against the other great heavyweights of all time? It will be quite difficult to judge with the abrupt end to his career. Vitali had only 37 fights. He won 35 with 34 stoppage wins. Overall, the numbers are impressive. However, let's look at the actual quality of his opposition. Vitali began his career in 1996. He reeled off 27 straight wins, all by knockout, yet there were no big names but his resume has several fair heavyweights. Names like Cleveland Woods, Will Hinton, Anthony Willis, Levi Billips, Jose Ribalta, Herbie Hide, Ed Mahone and Obed Sullivan.

In 2000, ahead on points, a shoulder injury forced Vitali to withdraw between rounds nine and ten against Chris Byrd. The IBF currently recognizes Byrd as champion. Vitali came back to win five fights Orlin Norris, Vaughn Bean and Larry Donald were among his victims. That led Vitali to a 2003 title shot against WBC champion Lennox Lewis.

Lennox-Vitali was a great fight but it ended in six rounds. Lewis broke Vitali down and the fight was stopped. To his credit, Vitali jumped right back in the win column. He battered highly regarded Kirk Johnson. Then when Lennox Lewis retired, they matched Vitali with dangerous Corrie Sanders for the vacant WBC title. Vitali then defended his crown by halting Mike Tyson conqueror, Danny Williams.

Vitali lost to the best of his era in Lennox Lewis. He also lost to the talented Chris Byrd in a bout that he was on his way to winning before he injured his shoulder. The best way to describe Vitali's opponents were fair to slightly above average. There are no victories over a big name foe. No Tyson, Holyfield, Moorer or even a John Ruiz.

To be honest, Vitali was slow, ponderous somewhat of a plodder. On the flip side, Vitali's little brother, Wladimir, is a much better boxer. Still, Vitali had more power and seemed to be more sturdy. Although Vitali' s record is very impressive, the quality of his opposition was only so so, I find it very difficult to rate him with Ali, Frazier, Foreman and Holmes.

To be perfectly frank, Vitali would not be listed in my Top 25 Heavyweights.

Article posted on 14.11.2005



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