Juan Manuel Marquez and Wladimir Klitschko: Two of the greats?Written by DeMarkus Jones
In the last few weeks, boxing has lost several great fighters to retirement.
Timothy Bradley, Tyson Fury (maybe) and two names sure to inspire debate amongst boxing fans - Juan Manuel Marquez and Wladimir Klitschko.
Both had long, successful careers and are Hall of Fame worthy. However, should they be remembered as two of the greats of this era?
Juan Manuel Marquez will be remembered mostly for his series of exciting encounters with Manny Pacquiao but he should be remembered for more than those four fights. In fact, he should be considered on of the greats of this era based on longevity, success, entertainment value, quality of opposition and pure guts.
Marquez, one of the best boxers of this era, was never in a boring fight. His fights with Diaz, Pacquiao and even guys like Katsidis were all instant classics. The fact that he was a technically sound boxer who was willing to stand and trade made him even more marketable. Also, despite all those wars, Marquez was never stopped inside the distance in a career that lasted 24 years long and spanned 3 decades.
He would amass 8 world titles in 4 different weight classes and was the third Mexican boxer and the 13th overall to hold a major title in 4 weight classes. And at one point, Marquez was the #2 p4p boxer in the world. He is certainly one of the best Mexican boxers of all time and one of the greats of this era.
Dr. Steelhammer's place is a little harder to debate. The successful record is definitely there and his 23 title defenses are only second to Joe Louis in the Heavyweight history. At 4,383 days, he owns the longest combined championship reign of any heavyweight and from 2011 until 2013 either Vitali or Wladimir had possession of every major heavyweight title. In fact, 2006 to 2015 could be affectionately known as the ‘Klitschko era.’
Wladimir's record stands at 64 wins with 5 losses and 53 KOs.
From a success standpoint, we cannot argue his place in history. He checks the longevity box as well, boxing from professionally from 1996 until 2017.
As recently as his last fight against Anthony Joshua, Wlad (then 40) did not look old at all. He faired very well and even at times looked like he may have beaten his younger, bigger, stronger opponent. He looked better in that defeat than he as ever looked.
I would pick Klitschko to beat most of today's heavyweights.
The knocks against Klitschko are his fighting style, quality of opposition and chin. Klitschko has always been considered a "boring" fighter. Despite his very high 82% KO ratio, his style was all about safety and defense.
"Jab and grab" was the label given to the Klitschko style. While Klitschko is a very impressive athlete with tremendous size and power in his right hand, he fought too tactically and too often relied on technique rather than his physical gifts; A fact that never endeared him to American fight fans.
His quality of opposition was also a question mark. Klitschko fought in one of the weaker heavyweight division as participants lacked the star power of the 90s or the skill and tenacity of 70's. And apart from Lamon Brewster, Wladimir never rematched his conquerors as big brother Vitali normally did that for him.
However, you can only fight who is there for you to fight. Like Larry Holmes before him, you cannot hold Wlad’s era against him and he never ducked anyone. He fought and beat nearly everyone placed in front of him.
At the end of the day, you cannot argue with history. You may not agree with how he did it, but Wladimir Klitschko spent the better part of a decade dominating the marquee division in boxing and his numbers rival the greatest to ever lace up a pair of gloves. He belongs right up there with the greats of this era and heavyweight history.
So, there you have it. We recently lost two of the greats of this era.
How do you think history will remember Juan Manuel Marquez and Wladimir Klitschko?
My name is DeMarkus Jones and I am an amatuer boxer, trained in MuayThai and a 3rd degree black belt in Karate. I am a combat sports enthusiast and historian residing in Houston, Texas. If I'm not watching boxing or reading about boxing, I am probably in the gym myself.