Wladimir Klitschko unexpectedly brought his 21 year long professional career to an end yesterday, despite being widely expected to sign on for a rematch with Anthony Joshua in Las Vegas. Dr Steelhammer’s career ends with a record of 64 victories and 5 defeats: but how is his legacy?
In terms of comparisons to previous greats, the obvious stat to consider is that Klitschko holds the second most successful title defences with 23 and second longest reign in Heavyweight history. Only Joe Louis has more defences with 25. Over a period of 10 years, Klitschko took on some of the biggest names in boxing, remaining relatively active up until about 2014. Among these defences are the likes of two-time Heavyweight champ Hasim Rahman and Britain’s own David Haye, which will likely be remembered for the aftermath of the fight. Klitschko has defeated the rightly feared ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ Samuel Peter twice, as well as avenging his defeat to Lamon Brewster and defeating two time heavyweight champion Chris Byrd. He has beaten 10 current and former world champions: a feat that is second to none.
Despite having a less than appealing style to some – known for his utilisation of the jab and fighting on the outside – Klitschko was still respected for his considerable knockout power, finishing with 53 career stoppages. Even up to the end he was still able to mix it with the best, as evidenced by his sixth round knockdown of Anthony Joshua, a valiant effort which ended in an eleventh round TKO defeat for the Ukrainian. In recent years, the Heavyweight division waned, with Klitschko defending his belts against the likes of Bryant Jennings, Alex Leapai and Kubrat Pulev, none of whom are truly elite level fighters. This was until the arrival of the controversial Tyson Fury and Olympic Champion Anthony Joshua.
Klitschko will be remembered fondly by British fans, having defeated David Haye in some fashion before a shock defeat to Tyson Fury – losing his IBF/IBO/WBO & WBA ‘Super’ World titles in the process – and, finally, an all-out war against now IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua. At the time, Haye was considered one of the hardest hitting and most dangerous Heavyweights, holding the WBA belt in a fight made bigger by the build-up. Few fighters managed to get under Klitschko’s skin but Haye found a way. However, inevitably it wasn’t enough, as Klitschko controlled the fight almost from the off ending in a wide unanimous decision in favour of the Ukrainian. This win meant all Heavyweight titles were held by the Klitschko brothers, with elder sibling Vitali holding the WBC belt. The defeat to Fury in Germany was a result few expected, with the self-proclaimed ‘Gypsy King’ using his ring craft well to frustrate Klitschko throughout the fight and leave him struggling to land a punch. Even at one point, Fury was able to stand in front of Klitschko with his hands behind his back. Klitschko would later be left disappointed by the scheduled rematch never coming to fruition as a result of Fury’s mental health and drug issues.
Despite being 41 and having a two year break from the ring, Klitschko signed on to fight IBF World Champion and British fan favourite Anthony Joshua. I believe Klitschko may have left his best performance until last, using all of his experience and grit to survive an early knockdown and drop Joshua to the canvas himself in a pulsating sixth round. However, it sadly was not to be, as Joshua showed his heart to finish the fight in the eleventh. The Wladimir Klitschko of five years ago would have certainly prevailed against an inexperienced and tired Joshua instead of allowing him to regroup and recover.
Throughout his career, Wladimir Klitschko has been held in high regard with boxing fans for how he is outside the ring. Klitschko has epitomised the word role model, showing respect for his opponents inside and outside of the squared circle. On top of this, he is respected for his charitable work including auctioning off his Olympic Gold medal to help support the dreams of young people in his native Ukraine. Even in signing off, he once again showed his class tweeting: “My heart is at peace as I pass the torch to Anthony Joshua – the next generation. Good luck little bro, I’m proud of you.”
It is safe to say Klitschko will be remembered as one of the most dominant Heavyweight Champions ever, fighting all the top contenders available in search of all of the belts. He will be remembered for how well he handled himself outside the ring as well as inside it, and is a guaranteed Hall of Famer who will be sorely missed by boxing fans.
Respect to a true ‘People’s Champion’.
Article by: William Lott
You can follow Will on Twitter at: @WillLott27
Lee Selby has his eyes fixed firmly on unbeaten Mexican southpaw Eduardo Ramirez ahead of their showdown at the Copper Box Arena on December 9th.
The 30-year-old knows that should he come through his latest challenge unscathed, he'll be cashing in on some huge pay days in 2018, with the likes of mandatory challenger Josh Warrington, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg all banging the drum for a shot as his IBF featherweight title.
Selby told Behind The Gloves : "I'm not looking past December 9th and doing the job against Ramirez.
"There were only a few names available for this fight who were up there in the ratings, and Ramirez was the one we went for.
"I don't like to do too much research into my opponents, I've had a little look on YouTube and he looks decent, with fast hands and he seems tough too.
"He's the sixth or seventh unbeaten fighter I've faced, so I have no worries about his record."
The Welshman was talking from his training camp in Fuerteventura following a sparring session with Ryan Wheeler and Jazza Dickens, and admits it's nice to train with the sun beating down on his back, adding: "We've been out here before, the facilities at Adam Bailey's gym are superb and it's nice to break camp up and come out here to get some sun on my back.
"I'm getting great sparring with two southpaws in Ryan and Jazza and my preparation is going well."
Former Team GB amateur standout Harvey Horn has said he hopes to be fast-tracked as he embarks upon his professional career. Horn will make his debut on the undercard of a show featuring British world champions James DeGale and Lee Selby at London’s Copper Box Arena on December 9.
The 22-year-old signed a long-term promotional deal with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren at the beginning of October and will campaign in the Flyweight division. He trains out of the famous Peacock Gym in Canning Town under highly-respected coach Mark Tibbs.
The East-Londoner gained a wealth of experience in a fine amateur career where he won won the 2014 ABA championships, before continuing his progression in the following year after winning a European silver medal in Bulgaria. He then represented Team GB at the inaugural European Games in Baku.
Horn gained what could be crucial experience through participating in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) which he entered with the British Lionhearts squad. The pro-style boxing format sees participants compete without a vest and are not permitted to wear protective headgear over three-minute rounds.
"They’re five round fights, no vest, no head guard, it’s like a professional fight." said Horn, in an exclusive interview with Behind The Gloves reporter Isaiah Benjamin.
"I was in there with the world’s best, so as far as I’m concerned I’ve already had three or four professional fights already. I’ll jump in at four rounds to start and maybe have two of those and then move up to six rounders, but I don’t want to stick around on the six’s too long."
"Judging on how I’ve been performing the last few years, and with the WSB and amateur experience that I’ve got, I’m hoping to be fast-tracked and that’s something that is expected of me from my promoter and my trainer.” he continued.
Quick! Name two currently active professional boxers with more talent and skill than Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux? I'm not a gambling man but I'll bet the farm you can't do it. So don't even try. Listen, pedigree doesn't lie. Double Olympic gold medal winners don't grow on trees.
For the boxing faithful, 2017 has been a year where our cups have runneth over. We've had the drama of Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua and Ward vs Kovalev, the controversy of the long awaited clash between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, and the shock of Roman Gonzalez getting unexpectedly bombed out by the dynamite fisted Thai, Sor Rungvisai. Whichever way you slice it boxing is on a roll this year. And it's not over yet.
On December 9th, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, we get the biggest fight in the sport that can be made in any weight class below 135lbs. And the second the Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux bout was officially announced, you could hear the collective sound of jaws dropping across the entire boxing landscape. In fact mine dropped so hard it hit the floor, bounced back up and knocked me clean out.
A couple of swift kicks below the belt line from the wife - her version of first aid - woke me up and, apart from the searing pain in my groin, my first thought was of Loma-Rigo. The fact this fight is signed, sealed and delivered is almost too good to be true. So go ahead and slap yourself. This dream matchup is actually going to happen and if you're anything like me I'd wager you can't wait for the first bell to ring on fight night.
Moving forward I'll say this... It's a damn good time to be a follower of the "Sweet Science."
On 30 October 2017, Robert Smith of the BBBoC blamed Tyson Fury for delays to his anti-doping hearing. He said to Sky Sports, “ We [the BBBoC] are ready to go, UKAD are ready to go on our behalf, and the independent panel are waiting for a confirmed date. It's up to them [Team Fury] now [to propose a date] ."
Then, on 23 November 2017, Mr Smith reiterated to Sky Sports, " The reason why this has taken so long, so I have been led to believe, is because Mr Fury's legal team could not agree a date for the recommencement of the hearing. They obviously now have, and the hearing will recommence [in December 2017] ."
Mr Smith is incorrect. While Team Fury have been advised not to discuss this matter until it is over, we would like to clarify as follows:
(i) This matter started in February 2015 – almost 3 years ago – after routine doping control tests.
(ii) Tyson and Hughie were not notified of the results of those tests for 7 months, and even then UKAD simply asked them about their diet. There was never any suggestion that Tyson and Hughie had done anything wrong or that they might be in any sort of trouble.
(iii) Then, without warning, UKAD charged Tyson and Hughie in June 2016 in relation to the February 2015 tests – i.e. 16 months after the tests.
(iv) A hearing eventually took place in May 2017 but was halted after UKAD objected to the participation of a tribunal member.
(v) Hearing dates were then proposed for early October 2017 but UKAD’s team ( not Team Fury’s team) was unavailable.
(vi) A hearing has now been fixed for December 2017.
Contrary to the BBBoC’s suggestion, therefore, the delays have not been caused by Team Fury.
Source: Hennessy Sports [Press Release]
Belfast's Carl Frampton (24-1-0, 14 KO's) marked his return to the ring under new trainer Jamie Moore last Saturday night with a closely-contested, unanimous points victory over Horacio Garcia (33-4-1, 24 KO's) after ten months of inactivity.
Frampton certainly impressed in a win that could in no way be described as 'routine'; it was, in fact, anything but. It was a win where he was required to utilise his boxing skills and masterfully navigate the ring early on against a tenacious opponent, in addition to harnessing his own reserves of grit and determination as the fight progressed into the gruelling later stages, with Garcia growing in confidence.
Nevertheless, prior to making his comeback after a seemingly acrimonious split with former manager and mentor Barry McGuigan, it has to be said that Frampton's previous claims of his own capability to knockout any fighter in the division do now appear, in hindsight, to be somewhat hollow.
It's not that the Ulsterman possesses insufficient or otherwise unremarkable power. On the contrary, the spite and varied selection of his punches are clearly one of Frampton's main attributes. Moreover, Frampton is an extremely well-rounded fighter who is, to say the least, adequate in almost every department, and according to popular consensus, he stands with rival Leo Santa Cruz are the two best in a talent-rich Featherweight division.
Most boxing fans will have experienced a sense of deja vu on Monday evening, when it was reported that former two division World Champion David Haye (28-3-0, 26 KO’s) had sustained a bicep injury as a result of a freak training accident, resulting in the postponement of next month’s scheduled rematch with Liverpool’s Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KO’s).
The previous fortnight had seen much speculation surrounding the proposed bout, with a spate of rumours doing the rounds concerning the fitness of the thirty-seven-year-old ahead of the upcoming pay-per-view clash.
Haye has now withdrawn from four of his last seven scheduled contests, and has fought just one live opponent since 2012: suffering an 11th round TKO loss at the hands of the aforementioned Tony Bellew, on that one inauspicious occasion.
In spite of his latest injury setback, the former WBA World Heavyweight Champion has ambitiously proposed a rescheduled date of either March or May, pending venue availability. Whilst such optimism may be met with a degree of scepticism by many, it should come as no great surprise from a fighter who will be undoubtedly desperate to exact revenge upon his arch nemesis, and subsequently erase the image of him being punched through the ropes - and into defeat - in the first encounter in March of this year.
Upon suffering the shock reverse last time out, 'The Hayemaker' made the decision to part ways with trainer Shane McGuigan in favour of Cuban veteran Ismael Salas, who had relocated to London in order undertake the assignment. The fledgling partnership has appeared to be a success thus far, with Salas being handed the additional responsibility of training two of Haye’s most valuable promotional assets, in 2016 Olympian Joe Joyce and crossover MMA star Michael 'Venom' Page.
Boxing's No. 1 superhero and undefeated WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO middleweight world champion Gennady "GGG" Golovkin is back home in the Los Angeles area after his well-received visit to the Mexico, the motherland of his boxing style. Joined by his trainer Abel Sanchez and promoter Tom Loeffler, Golovkin traveled to Mexico City this week to meet with his fans and thank them for the support they have given him throughout his career and especially in the lead up and aftermath of his September 16 title defense against Canelo Alvarez. Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KO's), boxing's longest-reigning active world champion, has successfully defended the middleweight title 19 times -- one short of the record -- since 2010.
Golovkin's whirlwind tour of Mexico City included a sustained standing ovation from 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium at halftime of the game between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots. Golovkin, wearing his WBC world title belt, was introduced on the field at halftime and greeted by an entire stadium chanting 'Triple G' repeatedly. The following day, the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, honored Golovkin with a proclamation declaring him a distinguished guest of the city. The proclamation was in recognition of Golovkin's generous support of the victims of the earthquake. The highlight of Golovkin's trip was an extended visit to the Moctezuma Pediatric Hospital to give hugs, high fives and toys to children who are battling cancer. He also spent time with the relatives of the children, accompanied by the head of the Ministry of Health, Armando Ahued Ortega, and the president of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Mauricio Sulaiman.
"It really touched my heart to visit the children in the hospital, it was nice to bring them a special moment for a day," said Golovkin. "I have so much respect for the doctors and nurses who treat the children and their families every day. I am just thankful to God that I am in a position to be able to visit them and bring a smile to their faces.
It was a big honor to receive the official declaration from Governor Mancera, recognizing me as an official guest and International Ambassador of Mexico City. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should all give thanks for the blessing we have received. My trip to Mexico certainly did that for me."
"Gennady has won the hearts of Mexican people and is considered one of their own," said Sulaiman. "His kindness and much love given to those little champions fighting for their lives was humbling and brought tears of joy to many of us. I'm so proud to have GGG as the WBC middleweight champion. He truly represents the best of boxing in and outside the ring."
"When we walked onto the field in front of 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium and they were chanting 'Triple G,' it was one of those moments that you will remember forever, said Loeffler. "The secret to his success is GGG does more promoting of his career on a world-wide basis when he is not fighting than most fighters do when they have a fight coming up. Last week he was in China with Jack Ma and this week he was in Mexico at the invitation of the president of the WBC."
Source: Sternberg Communications [Press Release]
On Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, New York, former IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev returns to the ring to face Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for one of his old belts, the WBO strap left vacant by Andre Ward in the wake of his retirement from boxing. Ward of course claimed the aforementioned trio of belts with a narrow and controversial points decision over Kovalev in November 2016, one which many felt should have gone in favour of the Russian, who knocked Ward down in the second round. The closeness of the fight begged for a rematch and Ward put a definitive stamp on their rivalry by stopping Kovalev in the eighth round. There were complaints from Kovalev’s side of repeated low blows from Ward leading up to the stoppage, but the reality is that Kovalev had already been badly hurt by legitimate punches to the head and body and had nothing left in his tank.
The past year has been as torrid and unforgiving as the Russian winter for Kovalev. He lost his unbeaten record, all his belts and was stopped for the first time in his career. He split acrimoniously with his long-time trainer, John David Jackson, amidst an exchange of insults and accusations over who was to blame for the reversals suffered in the ring. Moreover, he lost the aura of menace and invincibility that he carried with him to every bout. Lest we forget that, before the fights with Ward, the ‘Krusher’ was regarded as one of the most feared men in boxing; a formidable boxer-puncher with devastating power and a notorious mean streak which carried him to a record 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts, three world titles, a career-defining win against the legendary Bernard Hopkins and a place in most pound-for-pound rankings. He now has the opportunity for redemption, albeit against a lesser foe.