I use the above picture as a way to choose how I remember Wladimir Klitschko. For nearly a decade he was the man at heavyweight and dominated all that was put in front of him for 18 successful title defenses of his IBF Championship. Along the way he wore all the major belts minus the WBC and carved out a great championship run. There are now stories emerging about K2 Promotions promoter Tom Loeffler stating that he “would like him to comeback”
I am not going to write a long post given there is no official comeback being announced and this is just the wishes of a boxing figure. I think Wladimir’s time is up, the division though competitive is not of great quality. Could he run through a large swath of the top 10? Sure, probably and I would make him the favorite over Whyte, Parker, Ortiz, Ruiz, and Rivas. However, he is done at the championship level. Tyson Fury won a clear cut decision against Klitschko nearly five years ago in a fight where Wladimir looked lost and befuddled for a majority of the fight. He only landed landed 52 of his punches which is absurdly low, especially for a fighter of his caliber. For Fury this was really his coming out party as he had only previously defeated Derek Chisora and Steve Cunningham and was not a very proven or seasoned pro. Fury is only better now and Klitschko is even older.
Wladimir got another try at redemption after Fury imploded in his fame when he challenged Anthony Joshua at Wembley in the UK in 2017. The fight was for his old IBF title that was stripped away from Fury and the WBA title as well. After a dull initial 4 rounds, Joshua stormed out in the 5th round and had Klitschko on the canvas. He continued to pursue his wounded foe but punched himself out and left himself open to a Klitschko counter assault that had the older hurt fighter in better shape at the bell. It was miraculous to watch in real time as Wlad survived and came out the better man. In round 6 it seemed as though the upset was complete as he dropped Joshua with a right hand with plenty of time in the round. Against Fury, Wladimir seemed incapable of letting his hands go and versus Joshua he seemed ineffective when he pulled the trigger. He could not finish a badly hurt Joshua and I think was very sloppy in his attempts to end the fight. Rather than go back to the right hand that put Joshua on the deck he continued to lunge with lead left hooks that were telegraphed and missed terribly. In missing the target he often wound up in too close and smothered himself inside and thus allowed Joshua to survive. He then began to box cautiously and slowly Joshua began to regain his lunges and rallied in the 11th round to ultimately end the fight. Wladimir was banking on outlasting the younger champion but even then he was not in command on the scorecards either. I know many fans and observers would point to how close he came in that fight but I think that is as close as he could get. Joshua has only improved and learned from the fight and has since went on to defeat other names like Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin. He did have a disastrous performance versus Andy Ruiz in a fight much like the Klitschko fight where he poorly appraised how hurt he had Ruiz and was caught going for the kill. I mean I guess that situation is always likely to occur but I would not bank on it.
Boxing is filled with too many guys who hang around too long. Usually its because of money issues or trying for a glory they could not reach. Wladimir has his money by all accounts and had plenty of glory. He has a PHD, is a celebrity in Europe and has his health and faculties. Boxing is a brutal and unforgiving sport and you would hate to see something happen to someone who for all intents and purposes should not be fighting. I’ll leave it to Mickey to explain it in one of my favorite Rocky moments: