By Jim Dower: Former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) is interested in avenging the loss of his brother Wladimir Klitschko by facing IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs). Joshua stopped the 41-year-old Wladimir earlier this year in beating him by an 11th round technical knockout in front of 100,000 fans on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
The 6’7″ Vitali has the size to compete with the 6’5″ Joshua. The unknown is whether Vitali has the youth and sharpness to compete with Joshua.
Vitali, 46, says he feels partly to blame for the loss of his brother, as told Wladimir not to do too much in round 6 of the fight. That was he round Wladimir knocked Joshua down and had him ready to be stopped. Wladimir let Joshua off the hook, and didn’t press the matter when he was gassed out in rounds 7, 8 and 9. Vitali says he didn’t think that the heavily muscled Joshua could recover so quickly.
Vitali is now a politician in Ukraine. Whether he would have the time to take a break from his job to start training again to resume his career is unknown.
Vitali may still have an Emeritus status with World Boxing Council. If that status is still valid, then Vitali could get a fast world title shot against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder. The Emeritus status wouldn’t help Vitali get a quick world title shot against Joshua. However, if Vitali could beat Wilder, he could then face Joshua in a unification fight. It wouldn’t be an easy fight for Vitali to face the 6’7” Wilder. He’s taller, faster and more powerful than Vitali. If Wilder was able to hit Vitali with his right hand cleanly he could knock him out and end his comeback as fast as it started.
Twice in Vitali’s 16-year pro career he avenged Wladimir’s knockout losses to Ross Puritty and Corrie Sanders in knocking both of them. At 46, Vitali appears to want to do the same thing to Joshua, who is 19 years younger than the Ukrainian star.
“Wladimir lost the fight against Corrie Sanders, I knock out Corrie Sanders next fight, because I defend my brother,” said Vitali to Fighthub. “A fight against Joshua is my best wish. I have a feeling I can do it better, I have to fight Joshua and bring back the belt to the family.”
Vitali hasn’t fought in 5 years since ending his career in 2012 with 4th round knockout victory over Manuel Charr on September 8, 2012.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport would likely want Vitali to fight a number of top level fighters to show he’s for real before he would pull the trigger on a Joshua vs. Vitali fight. For the match-up to be taken seriously by the British boxing public, Vitali would need to start fighting again and would need to at least show that he can beat some of the contenders in the heavyweight top 15 rankings.
Hearn would maybe be okay with Vitali facing fringe level contenders, as long as he beat them in impressive fashion. David Haye has been interested in fighting Joshua since he made his comeback last year, but he hasn’t beaten any of the quality contenders in the division. Hearn hasn’t made the Joshua-Haye fight because it hasn’t been built up properly on Haye’s side.
Vitali would be in the same situation. He’s not going to be given a world title shot against straightaway without him showing that he’s for real and capable of putting on a good show. More importantly, Vitali would need to be taken serious by the boxing public. Vitali has been out of the game for so many years that it’s unlikely that he will be taken seriously if all he’s interested in is a quick title shot against Joshua.
“It was great fight of Wladimir and Joshua, great fight,” said Vitali. “I feel a bit guilty, because I told to Wladimir in the corner please don’t be so active in round number six when Wladimir sent Joshua to the floor. I expect a big-muscled athlete to not recover, I was surprised, Joshua recovered so fast and stopped Wladimir. If I didn’t tell him to stop, then Wladimir might have knocked him out, six or maybe round number seven,” said Vitali.
I question whether Wladimir would have gone after Joshua to try and knock him out even if Vitali had told him to be more active in round 6. Wladimir looked like he was afraid to go after Joshua. Wladimir was tired himself from having opened up on Joshua to put him on the canvas. Joshua had hurt him, and he looked like he didn’t want to take any chances of getting caught.
If Vitali didn’t tell Wladimir to go after Joshua in round 7, then that was a major mistake. Wladimir should have tried to end the fight in round 7, considering that Joshua was still very tired from the previous round. He didn’t look hurt. He just looked tired. Wladimir’s trainer Jonathon Banks was telling him to finish Joshua, but he wasn’t following his instructions. Whatever Vitali said to Wladimir likely would have gone in one ear and out the other.
Wladimir did not look like he wanted to put his chin on the line to try and get a tired Joshua out of there. A younger Wladimir with his old trainer the late Emanuel Steward would have gone after Joshua. Steward had a way of motivating Wladimir like no one else before or sense. That was the missing ingredient for Wladimir against Joshua. He didn’t have Steward by his side to help him. Wladimir wasn’t the same fighter without Steward. He could get Wladimir to do try anything inside the ring. Banks didn’t have the same effect.
“Wladimir was for a long time the best heavyweight in the world. Joshua stopped him and this means he is the best one,” said Vitali. “But that was just a lucky fight, a lucky day for Joshua.”
We don’t know yet whether Joshua is the best or not. That’s still being found out. There are at least 3 fighters that Joshua will need to beat before he’s considered the No.1 guy in the heavyweight division, and those are Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker and Luis Ortiz. Even if Joshua beats all those guys, there’s an improved Dillian Whyte that will need to be dealt with, and a number of younger heavyweights that are coming up the pipeline.
“I miss boxing very much. Boxing will always stay in my heart my whole life,” said Vitali. “Boxing give me chances, boxing gave me push in my life.”
Vitali was out of boxing from 2004 to 2008. Vitali suffered a bad knee injury that sidelined him for a number of years. When Vitali did return to the sport in 2008, he was given an immediate world title shot against WBC champion Samuel Peter and he stopped him in the 8th round.
Wladimir had the chance to avenge his own loss to Joshua by facing him in a rematch, but he suddenly retired instead of taking the fight. A lot of boxing fans were interested in seeing the rematch. It would have made Wladimir a lot of money, and he could have retired potentially on the back of a win over Joshua instead of a knockout loss. It’s believed that Wladimir was content with merely having given Joshua some problems in the fight rather beating him.