22.10.06 - By Jeff Wilkins: Next month, it will be exactly one year since Vitali Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOís), the former WBO and WBC heavyweight champion of the world, retired from boxing following a string of injuries to his back and knee. At the time of his retirement, the 6í8Ē 250 lb Ukrainian giant held the WBC heavyweight title and was scheduled to defend against Hasim Rahman. Unfortunately for him, the injuries to his right knee ( torn meniscus, Medial Collateral tear to his ligament and a bone bruise) were so severe that Vitali decided on retiring rather than letting his title be stripped from him.
Article posted on 23.10.2006
By now, however, Vitali's leg injury should be well healed and pretty much as good as it's going to get. With injuries, they tend to get worse as the years go by, not better. You wait too long and things like Arthritis or the need for a total knee replacement come into play.
Not that I'm in a particular hurry for him to pursue his career, but it seems to me for Vitali to wait much longer, might actually limit his future chances of success.
At 35-years-old, Vitali Klitschko doesn't have much more time if he intends on continuing his boxing career. Of course, stranger things have happened and he could find success in his later years like George Foreman did, but considering Vitali's history of back, shoulder and knee injuries, I wouldn't bet on that happening. No doubt, with leg injuries like Vitaliís, heís never going to have the leg strength that he previously did, but with a leg wrap for support, he should be close to 60-80 percent of his former knee strength.
Perhaps, this is more a mental thing than physical for Vitali, since heís never really relied on bending much at the knees. Instead, he always stood straight up, fighting in a European style, and not bending his knees very much at all. No, Iíd venture to guess that Vitaliís real reason for not returning is based on fear. As with anything that you avoid due to fear, it becomes harder as time goes by to summon the courage to do it. He needs to let go of his pride and fear of not performing at his best, and just try and focus on doing the best fighting he can, given his knee problem.
To be sure, if someone like Lamon Brewster can do it, Iím quite certain Vitali can as well. Brewster has had knee problems as bad as Vitaliís, yet it hasnít stopped Brewster one bit. He simply wears a leg wrap and fights on, doing the best he can.
This is not to suggest that Vitali canít be successful, if he does make a comeback, because in the current heavyweight division, with so little talent, I can easily see Vitali winning a championship. However, in his case, he appears to be defeating his own self by not even trying. Consider, if you will, the amount of money that Vitali can make if he returns to the ring. He can easily make $5-8 million almost immediately, most likely in his very first fight.
More than that, he wouldnít have to face heavyweight that would test his leg movements, being that the top four heavyweight champions (Wladimir Klitschko, Serguei Lyakhovich, Nikolay Valuev and Oleg Maskaev) are all rather slow of foot.
Against someone like Nikolay Valuev, I can see this fight being a wildly popular fight with the boxing fans. Of course, Vitali will have to make a decision to return soon, before Valuev loses to someone and ruins a potential history making fight. Consider, for example, if Vitali doesnít return to boxing. The fact that he never tried, quite possibly, might haunt him for the rest of his days, causing him to constantly think ďWhat if?Ē Better to face his demons all at once rather than living a life of nagging thoughts, donít you think?