Klitschko legacy: The evolution of the heavyweight division

By Lewis Croft: ‘They are boring, robotic and lack the charisma of a Heavyweight champion’, ‘All they do is jab, jab and hold’, ‘They wouldn’t last five minutes against a throwback fighter like Tyson, Dempsey, Frazier or a Liston’.

Unfortunately this is just a sample of what many people think about the current heavyweight champions of this generation. Regardless of what people say about them, the fact is the Kiltschko brothers are and have been for many years the dominant force in the heavyweight division. Holding all 4 world heavyweight titles between them, Vitali (WBC) and Wladimir Klitschko (WBA Super champion, IBF and WBO) reign supreme in the historic division; as a result they stand high above the rest, in more ways than one.

Standing 6ft 6 and 6ft 7 respectively, the Ukrainian giants strip there style down to the barebones basics. There effective upright stature accompanied with the ‘Klitschko jab’ keeps there challengers at arm’s length, the distance the challenger needs to break down before the ‘Steel hammer’ or ‘Iron fist’ accompanies that jab, leaving them numb or more likely on the canvas.

Technically, the Klitschko brothers execute the noble art of boxing to perfection- they hit without getting hit, a style that often goes unappreciated in a combat sport. Truth be told there style may not be as exciting as a Mexican tear up or a classic toe-to-toe encounter leaving fans on the edge of their seat but nevertheless there style is extremely effective in getting the job done.

But despite the similarities there are differences between the pair. Out of the two, Vitali is the more awkward fighter but as a result his chin is there to be hit. The problem the challengers face is that Vitali is known for his iron chin, seemingly never hurt or wobbled by anything thrown at him (Note: That uppercut thrown by Lewis would decapitate many others!). In contrast, Wladimir is the harder fighter to hit but as shown in the past does not possess the great chin that accompanies his brother, having been put on the canvas 11 times to date. The feeling is that ‘if’ you can get inside the jab of Wladimir and land a big shot of your own he is there for the taking. But one thing is certain; both brothers have extremely hard punching power in both hands. They can dominate throughout the fight and still carry their power late on to leave their opponent looking up at the bright lights.

Constantly selling out arenas in Germany, a Klitschko fight is not only a heavyweight title bout but in essence it is an event full of glamour and glitz within itself. The celebrities at ringside, the singer and the national anthems alongside the extravagant ring entrances make a K2 promotions boxing show all about the lights and glamour.

The division may not be as exciting as what it was; nevertheless the old cliché applies ‘You can only beat what’s put in front of him’ and that they have done, in dominating style. There CV’s may never match up to the likes of Frazier, Foreman, Ali, or even Lewis but let’s face facts here they have done all what could have been asked of them and beat the best fighters of this generation. Whether the quality in opposition may not be enriched in depth than previous generations but names such as Mormeck, Haye, Peters, Chambers, Chageav, Rahman, Chisora, Adamek, Solis, Briggs, Sosnowski, Johnson, Arreola, Brewster represent the current crop of fighters who have tried to dethrone the brothers.

Intelligent inside the ring and out, the two brothers are great ambassadors for the sport. They remain respectful and dignified amongst the controversy and taunting by their opponents. Whether you like them or not, you have to admire there gentlemanly behaviour within such a violent sport.

Saturday night Wladimir will defend his titles against former Cruiserweight champion and mandatory challenger for the IBF Jean-Marc Mormeck inside the ESPRIT Arena in Düsseldorf. No doubt Mormeck was a very strong cruiserweight but he has stepped up not only a division but in a huge gulf of class.

For me the Frenchmen has next to no chance against the younger Klitschko. Conceding not only weight but a lot of height (Wladimir Klitschko weighed in 244 lbs in comparison to Jean-Marc Mormeck coming in at 216 lbs, conceding almost 30 pounds). Barring the unexpected a routine win for Wladimir is almost a certainty with the possibility of his 50th knockout victim looking increasingly likely to be the mandatory challenger from France.

Times have changed and so too has heavyweight. Fighters have evolved into bigger and heavier animals, with the scientific approach to training working alongside the basics; athletes of today are very different from those of yesteryear. The arguments will always exist on how these two giants would fare against some of the best fighters to have graced this historic division but one thing is for certain they are and have been the dominant champions of this era.


Article posted on 03.03.2012

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