By James Slater: Though every former world champion, or most of them anyway, claims the era he dominated in was the best era, former two-time heavyweight titlist Tim Witherspoon makes an interesting point regarding the Klitschko brothers. Speaking with The Daily Record recently (ahead of a planned trip, with Mike Tyson, to Scotland), “Terrible” Tim said how Wladimir and Vitali have the heavyweight division “sewn up” today, but that they “wouldn’t have lasted in the decade when Mike and I were world champions.”
Sure to cause debate, is Witherspoon’s claim a worthy one? Would Drs. Steel Hammer and Iron Fist have coped with the best big men the 1980s had to offer? Remember, the ‘80s produced not only Tyson and Witherspoon, but also Larry Holmes. How would the two brothers have done against the three best heavyweights of that decade?
Personally, I think the peak Tyson, from 1988, would have been way too fast for both Wladimnir and Vitali. The speedy wrecking machine that rubbed out Michael Spinks would, in my opinion, have gotten inside the long reach of either brother, and once he was on the inside, Tyson would have gone to work to head and body alike. It would have taken a few rounds to topple the tree, but soon enough the crowd would have been hollering timber! (in the case of Wladimir anyway)
I think Tyson would have taken Wladimir out in around two or three rounds (remember what Corrie Sanders did to Wlad?), and I think he’d have hammered away sufficiently at Vitali to pound out a points win. But that’s just my opinion. Still, ask yourself, when has Wladimir or Vitali ever had to cope with anyone with the speed of a Mike Tyson? Never.
Larry Holmes, possessing a left jab even greater than Wladimir, would have beaten either brother, too. With his great chin, his superb boxing skills and his big right hand, “The Easton Assassin” would, in my opinion have won decisions against both siblings. They would have been good fights, one with Vitali especially, but Holmes had the tools needed to come out on top.
That just leaves Witherspoon himself. Here I feel the Klitshkos would have come out on top. Witherspoon’s feared overhand right might have caused the champions of today a few problems (when has anyone tried this punch against Wladimir or Vitali?), but overall Tim was too unpredictable and often too lazy in his fights to have been able to defeat the well conditioned giants. Witherspoon wouldn’t have been KO’d, though. Not the version that gave Holmes hell for 12-rounds, anyway.
Whether you agree with my opinions or not, one thing is definite, it sure would have be fun if the Klitschkos had fighters the calibre of Tyson, Holmes and Witherspoon to face today!