Wladimir Klitschko’s rise to heavyweight dominance wasn’t always smooth sailing. The long time dominant heavyweight champion had several major setbacks on the road to greatness before joining forces with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward. He had already suffered defeats at the hands of Ross Puritty and Corrie Sanders prior to teaming up with Steward, and then when the two had their first fight together, Wladimir suffered another devastating loss at the hands of Lamon Brewster. It was a disappointing start for the new duo, and in the end it would be the only fight they would lose together before Wladimir began his dominant reign which lasted nearly 10 years where Wladimir had hardly lost any rounds along the way.
The turning point for Wladimir came in September 2005 when Wladimir challenged then undefeated contender Sam Peter. At the time Peter was viewed as a powerhouse puncher who was a major player in the heavyweight landscape. During the fight Wladimir suffered three knockdowns at the hands of Peter, but he persevered winning every round that he wasn’t dropped in and nearly dropping Peter himself in the final round when he buckled the powerful Nigerian with a devastating left hook. Klitschko was awarded the decision, which paved the way for a showdown with then IBF champion Chris Byrd whom Klitschko had already dominated several years earlier. Klitschko knocked out Byrd to win the IBF title. The rest was history.
For years Klitschko racked up title defenses, and it appeared nobody on the horizon would be able to derail his seemingly unstoppable momentum – until he challenged Tyson Fury last November. In a bout that left most observers surprised, Fury dominated Wladimir in a one-sided affair which ended one of the greatest heavyweight title reigns in history. Klitschko didn’t seem to have any answers for Fury’s flash style and immense size. Now aged 40, Wladimir will attempt to regain the crown he lost to Fury when the two meet again in a rematch this July. If Klitschko can regain the titles, he has a big opportunity to completely redefine his legacy.