Upon the announcement that Vitali Klitschko is to hang up his gloves to concentrate on his future outside the ring, the fallout on the three-time world champion’s legacy can begin in earnest after a successful 17-year career.
At 42, it seems to be the right time for Klitschko to call it day as ‘Dr. Ironfist’ has far bigger fish to fry amongst the Ukrainian political scene, with the heavyweight division still at it’s lowest ebb since the 1990’s.
Klitschko, along with his younger brother Wladimir, have struggled for opponents their entire careers and has only a failed attempt to dethrone a past-his-best Lennox Lewis in 2003 to show for such a dominant stint in the sport.
Looking through his resume, you would be hard pushed to name any other contender that actually stands up with the greats of the sport -as Klitschko looks destined to be remembered as the fighter who could never nail down a rematch with Lewis.
Granted that Vitali dealt with what was in front of him with consummate ease, but that is always never enough in boxing to have a sustainable legacy. The criteria, amongst the fans especially, is having a rivalry that defines you and I’m afraid either Klitschko has never been lucky enough to have a long-standing rival, apart from each other.
Numerous world title belts are never the recipe for being held in high regard with such names as Ali, Frazier, Tyson and the like – and it is a shame that such a talented champion is set to bow out after years of service with such a whimper.
Vitali was always recognised as the most talented of the two siblings after both overcame stuttering starts to their career, although once both have disappeared into the distant after their long reigns, it’s hard to see how they will be held anywhere amongst the greats.
The Kyrgyzstan born brothers have fought a boring tag throughout their careers, even with over 90 KO’s between them, and being too good for your own era has certainly had a detrimental effect on the two best heavyweights of the past decade.
A huge ‘what if’ will be stamped next to Vitali’s name in the boxing record books for years to come and we will never know just how good either of them were as they were never fully tested by anyone equal to their ability at thier peak.
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