How Good Was Vitali Klitschko?

By Jim Amato: He had 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 was 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 has only 37 fights, winning 35 with 34 stoppage wins. The numbers are impressive. Let's look at the quality of his opposition..

Vitali began his career in 1996. He reeled off 27 straight wins, all by knockout. 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 him to withdraw between rounds nine and ten against Chris Byrd. The IBF would later recognize Byrd as their 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 into 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.

Vitali was slow and ponderous. He was somewhat of a plodder. Brother Wladimir is a much better boxer. 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.

Vitali would not be listed in my Top 25 Heavyweights.

Article posted on 25.07.2008

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