Why Hasn’t Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko Gotten His Due Greatness?
By Ken Hissner: Former WBC and WBO World Heavyweight champion Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko has never gotten his due greatness in the opinion of this writer.
After an amateur record of 195-15, the 6:07 Klitschko decided to turn professional at the age of 25 in November of 1996, scoring 27 straight wins all by knockout! His win streak came to an end due to a shoulder injury against Chris Byrd, 30-1. At the time of the stoppage, he was ahead on the scores by 89-82 and 88-83 twice after 9 rounds on April 1, 2000.
In June of 1999, Klitschko had won the WBO title, stopping Nigerian out of UK Herbie “Dancing Destroyer” Hide, 30-1, in two rounds in the UK. In his first two defenses, he stopped Ed “The Hammer” Mahone, 21-0-2, in 3 rounds. In his second defense, he stopped Obed “The Fighting Marine” Sullivan, who couldn’t answer the bell for the tenth round after losing all nine previous rounds.
Klitschko, after the Byrd loss, would return some seven months later and score a twelve round decision over German champion Timo Hoffman, 22-0, for the vacant EBU European title in November of 2000. In the next two years, he scored four straight knockouts with a combined record of 160-24-5, with a WBA eliminator stoppage of Larry “The Legend” Donald, 39-2-2. This brought about his title fight with WBC and IBO champion Lennox “The Lion” Lewis, 40-2-1.
In the first round, it was all Klitschko using a jab followed by rights to the chin of Lewis, who did more clinching than fighting. In the second round, after a minute, a Klitschko right on the chin of Lewis had him hurt, forcing him to hold on until his head cleared. In the third round, a Lewis right not landing flush but more of a slashing punch on the left eyebrow of Klitschko opened up a serious gash. It was still a close round with Lewis taking it.
In the fourth round, Klitschko controlled while Lewis was gasping for breath using his elbow, trying to worsen the cut on Klitschko that didn’t re-open. In the fifth round, Lewis landed a dozen hard rights to the side of Klitschko, who was holding with his right hand.
Klitschko rocked Lewis halfway through the round with a left hook on the chin. Close round with Klitschko having a possible edge though the cut re-opened. In the sixth round, after a minute, Lewis landed his best punch of the fight, a right uppercut on the chin of Klitschko rocking him, opening a cut on his lower lip with blood forcing out. Lewis landed a hard right uppercut just before the bell on the chin of Klitschko and a left after the bell. Lewis had a small cut on the bridge of his nose.
In between rounds, the referee Lew Moret who had been doing a poor job throughout much too small to even be there, on the advice of ring physician Paul Wallace proclaimed Lewis, the winner due to the severity of the cut. Klitschko got up from his stool, furious about the stoppage. The crowd was just as angry. Klitschko was ahead 58-56 on all three scorecards was dealt the second defeat of his career due to injury. Ring commentators felt they should go to the scorecards if it were due to a clash of heads that caused the cut. Lewis wanted no parts of Klitschko again and proclaimed his retirement from the ring.
After six rounds, he was ahead 58-56 on all scorecards when he suffered a deep laceration of his left eyelid and lower lip, causing the bout to be stopped. Lewis would announce his retirement from the ring, which some felt due to not giving Klitschko a deserved rematch. Klitschko raised his hands and climbing on the ropes in the corners, causing the crowd to cheer him on.
Larry Merchant interviewed both fighters afterward. Lewis proclaimed it was just a matter of time before he would have stopped Klitschko. On the other hand, Klitschko said he could see fine, and the fight should not have been stopped as Lewis was wearing down. Both agreed to be willing to have a rematch when asked. Lewis didn’t live up to his word. This was the US debut of Klitschko, but he would return in his next three fights.
Klitschko would return to the ring almost six months later in a WBC title eliminator stopping Kirk “Bubba” Johnson, 34-1-1, in two rounds. Next, he won the vacant WBC title stopping WBO champion Corrie “The Sniper” Johnson, 39-2, who in his previous fight stopped Klitschko’s brother Wladimir, who was 40-1.
Next, Klitschko stopped Danny “The Brixton Bomber” Williams, 32-3, who was coming off a stoppage of former world champion “Iron” Mike Tyson. He was scheduled to fight Hasim Rahman in April of 2005, but a number of injuries kept postponing his return, starting with a pulled muscle in his upper thigh while jogging.
It was rescheduled two months later, but the injury hadn’t healed. He then received minor back surgery. The fourth date was set for November, but he injured his knee while sparring, requiring surgery. Promoter Bob Arum set a new date for March of 2006, but Klitschko, frustrated by his injuries, announced his retirement on November 9, 2005.
Klitschko would make his return to the ring after forty-six months away against Samuel ”The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter, 30-1, stopping him in nine rounds. Former WBC Cruiserweight champion Cuban Juan Carlos Gomez, 44-1, would be next falling in nine rounds. Both fights would take place in Germany.
Klitschko would return to the US at the Staples Center in L.A., for the final time stopping Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola, 27-0, in ten rounds. Off to Switzerland defeating Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson, 22-0-1, winning every round on two of the scorecards. EBU champion Poland’s Albert “The Dragon” Sosnowski, 45-2-1, would fall in ten rounds back in Germany.
Former WBO champion Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, 51-5-1, would be the next victim for Klitschko, losing all 15 rounds. Former Olympic Gold Medalist Cuban Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis, 17-0, would fall in the first round.
Former light heavy and cruiser world champion Tomasz “Goral” Adamek, 44-1, in Poland would fall in ten rounds to Klitschko. Former Commonwealth and British champion Dereck “War” Chisora, 15-2, would manage to go the full twelve rounds. In September of 2012, it would be his final bout WBC International champion Mahmoud “Diamond Boy” Charr, 21-0, would be stopped in four rounds in Moscow, Russia, bringing his final record to 45-2 with 41 stoppages. On December 16, 2013, he announced he was vacating his WBC retiring.
Klitschko would be inducted into the International Hall of Fame. Having received his Ph.D. in Sports Science and with political ambitions, he ran for mayor and the Ukrainian parliament in 2006. He didn’t win but was elected to the people’s deputy to Kiev City Council. He would later be elected to the parliament in December of 2012. In 2013 he announced he announced he would run for President of Ukraine in 2015 but would later pull out of the race. He was elected mayor in May of 2014. He and his brother Wladimir were the first brothers to hold world titles at the same time, with Wladimir holding the WBO, WBA, and IBF titles.
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