By Bill Bradshaw – It’s said that ‘In the absence of fact…we tell ourselves stories.’ On April 1st, news broke that Wladimir Klitschko would return to the ring on a DAZN three fight deal worth a reported £92M. He would launch his comeback, we were told, in Kiev on May 25th against an unnamed opponent and that alone should have raised red flags. After a 2yr layoff, it was highly unlikely that Wlad would take a 6 week training camp and still promote such a bout but, then again, it was April 1st. The fact that boxing fans ate it up was merely a sign of the hunger in the game for the threat that a fit and conditioned Klitschko could, possibly, bring. But there is no smoke without fire and I wonder just how much of an April fools prank that article actually was.
Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions recently stated that Klitschko was considering a genuine DAZN offer and was interested in a return if a bout with Wilder was on offer. In response, Team Wilder, stated that they were willing to offer Wlad a title crack on the condition he took ‘a tune up bout or two.’ I suspect that the April 1st article was a way of testing the water for such scenario, a straw poll of sorts to gauge the interest of fight fans for the potential return of the 43yr old former king. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and the excitement was wonderfully real.
For those who would look to Joshua, Wilder and Fury as the helmsmen of a great new wave in the heavyweight division, I would point out that the era of Tyson, Lewis and Holyfield is still fresh in the memories of many and the era of the Klitschko brothers has only recently ended…if it has ended at all. The dominance of Wlad and Vitali was tainted only by the lack of opposition whereas the 80’s and 90’s saw the aforementioned Tyson, Lewis and Holyfield mix it up to the backdrop of stiff competition from Mercer, Tua, Morrisson, Golota, a young Briggs and the hugely underrated Bowe. Tough and thrilling bouts that endure the test of time.
The next few weeks will see Wilder share a ring with a deeply boring Dominic Breazeale, Joshua face off with a very mediocre Jarrell Miller and Fury clown out the rounds in a showdown with the unheralded Tom Schwarz.
Wilder and Joshua won’t get it on, Joshua is avoiding Fury and Fury is ducking a rematch with Wilder…a triangle of travesty that is acceptable only to the promoters who grease their palms with the profits. Dillian Whyte is skulking around another title crack, refusing to face Ortiz on the grounds that he’s over the hill and avoiding Usyk as ‘no one’s ever heard of him.’ Povetkin has spiralled down the rankings following a very notable performance against Joshua and that suits just about everyone bar Povetkin as he is still a serious threat to the contenders even at 39. Sadly, nobody wants to fight anybody, and the boxing world is screaming out for a fighter that simply can’t be overlooked. Wladimir Klitschko, even at 43, is that fighter.
Wlad had been out of the ring for almost 18 months when he fought Joshua. He returned without a warm up bout and put in a monster performance against the young champion. To put that into perspective, Fury came off a 2yr lay-off and engaged in a sweat waltz with a 39yr old cruiserweight, Sefer Seferi, who is ranked 50 in the world according to Boxrec. One has to wonder how Klitschko might have fared against AJ had he taken a tune up when it was Dr Steelhammer’s engine that failed in the end. It was a noble way to go, if indeed he is gone. I suspect that he’s genuinely considering his options at this time and a bout with the fiercely powerful but technically limited Wilder must be appealing to him. Should he decide his day is well and truly done, then we may look to Oleksandr Usyk as someone who might just bring a much-needed excitement to a division stuck firmly in the mud.