Is Wladimir Klitschko One of the Greatest Punchers of All Time?
By William Mackay: Although IBF/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (53-3, 47 KO’s) is flawed in the chin department, his power is undeniable. He punches incredibly hard with both hands and has perhaps the best jab in all of boxing. Since capturing the IBF heavyweight title with a 7th round stoppage against Chris Byrd in April 2006, Klitschko has knocked out six of his seven heavyweight challengers and dominated each one of them. His style of fighting leaves a lot to be desired most people will admit.
Once a pure knockout artist earlier in his career, Klitschko has dramatically changed his fighting style since losing to Lamon Brewster by a 5th round TKO in April 2004. Whereas before Wladimir would rush out immediately trying to score a quick knockout, he now focuses on breaking down his opponents with his powerful jab and then stunning them with his powerful right hand.
His left hook, perhaps his best weapon through much of his career, is rarely used unless he has his opponent gravely hurt and ready to be knocked out. Klitschko learned his lessons from losses to Corrie Sanders and Brewster that it wasn’t safe to throw left hooks unless he was sure that there was little chance for him to be countered.
As hard as Klitschko punches, I still don’t consider him as hard a puncher as some of the current fighters and nor do I see him comparing with some of the past heavyweights as well. Below, I’ve listed by picks as being the hardest punchers in heavyweight history.
1. Mike Tyson –
2. Lennox Lewis
3. George Foreman
4. Corrie Sanders
5. Samuel Peter
6. David Haye
7. Sonny Liston
8. Larry Holmes
9. Ken Norton
10. Lamon Brewster
11. Wladimir Klitschko
12. Vitali Klitschko
Mike Tyson is clearly the hardest puncher in the history of the sport. Not big at only 5’11”, he packed an incredible punch and with his blazing hand speed, he was even more dangerous. In the early part of his career, Tyson was perhaps unbeatable due to his incredible power. Unfortunately, his career never measured up to the huge talent that he had. There’s no comparison to the power that Wladimir has compared to a young Tyson. Wladimir doesn’t punch anywhere near as hard and isn’t able to throw his power shots as easy as Tyson. For Wladimir to throw a power shot, he needs to load up with it and land it just right. In Tyson’s case, every punch was a power shot and he was capable of knocking out an opponent with a grazing punch.
Lennox Lewis had a better right hand and left hook than Wladimir and he wasn’t afraid to use it. Lewis was often criticized for preferring to use his jab to control many of his fights towards the end of his career. However, if you watch those fights closely, Lewis was never afraid to exchange punches with his opponents and go to war with them if he had to. In contrast, Wladimir rarely engages with his opponents and often fights scared. Lewis was the complete opposite of that and seemed to relish going after his opposition. Who can forget his wars with Shannon Briggs, Ray Mercer and Evander Holyfield. Lewis never shied away from exchanging shots with his opponents.
George Foreman had great power, but his punches often had less effect because of his poor hand speed. However, his power was so immense that he was able to knock out his opponents by basically clubbing them into submission over the course of a fight. Earlier in his career, Foreman was lethal, knocking out Joe Frazier and Ken Norton in the 2nd round. Foreman was unstoppable at that point in his career and dangerous if he could put his hands on his opponent.