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Wladimir Klitschko Holds a Dubious “Record” – But at Least He’s in Good Company

On one hand, you can’t “win” this record unless you’re a great fighter, your odds of winning virtually ironclad.

On the other hand, I don’t think any fighter really wants to hold the record for Most Times On The Wrong End of Ring Magazine’s Upset of the Year.

In 2003, Wladimir Klitschko lost his WBO heavyweight title by way of 2nd round knockout, delivered courtesy of the late, great Corrie Sanders’ infamous left hand.


In retrospect, not quite the upset it appeared – even Hasim Rahman, an expert on getting hit, admitted no one had ever hit him like Corrie Sanders. But Sanders wasn’t picked to be competitive – he was old, out of shape, inactive and such an underdog that Klitschko-Sanders easily earned Upset of the Year.

Flash forward 12 years, and Klitschko once again earned Ring Magazine Upset “honors,” in dropping a 12-round decision to no-hoper Tyson Fury. Wlad now has two appearances in the record books, and ties with six other men for the record.

The others are:

Jose Napoles – Earned Upset honors in 1970 with a 4th-round KO loss to Billy Backus, and again in 1975 with a 6th-round KO loss to John H. Stracey.

Muhammad Ali – Earned Upset honors in 1973 with his points loss to Ken Norton, and then again in 1978 with his decision loss to Leon Spinks. Of note, Ali is the only person on this list to also win Upset honors in the “good” way – as everyone knows, his1974 victory over George Foreman ranks among the greatest upsets in boxing history.

Roberto Duran – Upset honors in 1972 for a decision loss against Esteban De Jesus, and again in 1982 for a decision loss against Kirkland Laing.

Marvin Hagler – Earned Upset honors for two VERY controversial fights. In 1979 he won honors when Vito Antuofermo fought him to a draw, although many pundits agree Hagler was robbed. Later in 1987, Sugar Ray Leonard defeated him in a close upset, the merits of which are still argued today.

Donald Curry – Knocked out in 1986 by Lloyd Honeyghan, and dropped a decision in 1989 to Rene Jacquot.

Mike Tyson – Won honors in 1990 (no shit), when he lost by KO to Buster Douglas. Little else needs to be said about the biggest upset in all of sports, period. Evander Holyfield then defeated him in 1996 by way of KO – another Upset of the year shoe-in.

Which brings us to Wlad, the only fighter of his generation to repeatedly lose Upset of the Year fights.Which is not to say that his other losses don’t also deserve consideration. In 1998, he lost to massive underdog Ross Purrity – Wlad might have won that year if his profile were greater (the actual winner that year was Ivan Robinson W10 Arturo Gatti). He also shocked the boxing world in 2004 by losing to Lamon Brewster in a second-round knockout, but the winner that year was Glen Johnson’s 9th-round KO victory over Roy Jones Jr. – no way in HELL was anyone beating that one.

Could Wlad be the first man to “win” three times? With time and a little luck, I think he could.

Suppose Wlad returns to form and regains his belts from Tyson Fury in dominating fashion, thus establishing his loss as a fluke. He’s made it clear that he intends to continue fighting as long as he’s able, thus his retirement will probably be decided by another upset loss. But he’s still 40 years old, and it stands to reason that his chances of losing grow higher with each passing day.

If Wlad can regain his standing, then a loss to virtually any other heavyweight champion – Wilder, Povetkin, Joshua, etc., would realistically be seen as a candidate.

Of course, a lot depends on the outcome of Fury-Klitschko, where a lot more now depends on Fury’s ankle and his alleged failed drug test.