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Wladimir Klitschko: Can Dr. Steelhammer be a Top 5 All-Time Great?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Following his dismal performance in his recent unanimous decision loss to Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KO), can former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) still be considered one of the best 5 heavyweights ever?

Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Jack Johnson.

Does Wladimir Klitschko deserve to be mentioned alongside the above heavyweight greats?

History is kinder than the present
Keep in mind, history is usually a lot kinder to fighters than the present.

Now considered by many as the greatest heavyweight ever, Muhammad Ali was once considered a 'Poor Man's Joe Louis,' and Larry Holmes, also considered an all-time great today, was thoroughly trashed during his administration. It wasn't until after their careers Ali, Holmes and Lennox were given full credit for their accomplishments. So rest-assured, ten years from now Wladimir Klitschko will be more respected than he is today.

Bor-ing but...
Wlad, despite boasting one of the best knockout ratios in heavyweight champion history, gets ripped for his cautious fighting style.

He certainly hasn’t been as exciting as Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson or George Foreman were in the ring nor as charismatic or controversial as Floyd Mayweather outside it. Wlad doesn't starch opponents with mind-numbing punches nor knock opponents clear across the ring.

He scores knockouts scientifically, slowly and deliberately breaking foes down, round and after round.

But Klitschko, from a greatness standpoint, shouldn't be judged by his level of perceived excitement. After all, the most important element in boxing is 'hit and don't be hit,' and Wlad has done that well.

Next steps….
If the soon-to-be 40 year old Wladimir Klitschko defeats Tyson Fury in their rematch and then triumphs over Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KO), another quality, unbeaten young lion, he will have truly conquered not only the best in his era (sans his brother), but two fine fighters in the following era. 

With wins over Fury and Wilder, it would be virtually impossible for critics to keep him Wladimir off of a Top 5 Heavyweights List, even if he lost subsequent bouts.

Exacting revenge against Fury, alone, enhances Wlad’s legacy.

On any list of historical statistical comparisons of the best heavyweights in history, Klitschko already ranks right up there with the sport's great legends such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and Jack Dempsey. Like him or not, he's already heavyweight royalty to some extent.

Wladimir Klitschko Accomplishments...

  • Has held the titles of the WBO (twice), IBF, WBA (Super title) and The RING Magazine.
  • Held the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles longer than any other fighter in history, and is the second longest-reigning heavyweight champion of all-time.
  • Klitschko's reign of nine years, seven months and seven days is second only to the reign of Joe Louis, who was champion for 11 years, eight months and eight days.
  • Klitschko successfully defended the WBO and IBF heavyweight titles more than any other fighter
  • Defended the WBO title 19 times (five during his first reign and 14 during his second reign) and the IBF title 18 times; Only Joe Louis (25 defenses) and Larry Holmes (20 defenses) have made more.
  • Boasts a record of 25-3 (19 KOs) in world title fights.
  • 11 year / 22 fight unbeaten streak
  • 6 years as the RING Magazine (real and legitimate) heavyweight champion
  • 78 percent KO ratio
  • Is 12-3 (8 KOs) against former or current world titlists


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