Name: Wladimir Klitschko
Weight Class: Heavyweight (really a Super-Heavyweight)
Hometown: Ukraine, fights out of Hamburg, Germany
sfc's Heavyweight Ranking: 2nd (Behind only Lennox Lewis
sfc's Pound for Pound Ranking: 17th
Official Website: www.klitschko.com (Check this out for a detailed biography, pictures, etc.)
Wladimir Klitschko was born on March 25, 1976 in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. His older brother, Vitali, is also a high-ranked Heavyweight Boxer. Wladimir was introduced to Boxing at a young age and won several junior titles in Boxing and kickboxing. In 1996 he won the Gold Medal in the Super-Heavyweight division at the Olympics in Atlanta.
Both of the Klitschko brothers are very active outside of Boxing. They both have legitimate PhDs. Wlad's is in Sports Science and Philosophy. They also both created a Sports Fund to promote "Sport" throughout the Ukraine and the World. In the Ukraine they've helped to reconstruct a Church and try to promote the country as they travel the world beating people up. Wlad has received numerous awards for his career inside and outside of Boxing.
Personality, etc.: Wlad Klitschko displays the combination of brutality and humanity that many people find confusing. In reality, this is the norm for boxers. You only have to listen to Wlad speak for a little while to get the impression that he's a really nice guy. He currently speaks in rapidly improving broken English. He speaks 3 other languages besides that. He's indicated that if he can become the true Heavyweight Champion of the World that he will use it as a pulpit to spread his positive message about "sport" and the Ukraine.
Amateur: As mentioned above, Wlad had an excellent amateur career leading to a Gold Medal at the Olympics.
Early Career: As a "hot prospect" Wlad's early career was carefully handled. He easily blew through his first 24 opponents with 22 KOs and picked up the WBC International Heavyweight Title.
vs. Ross Puritty: In Boxing, you're often judged more by your losses than your victories. In 1998 Wlad squared off with tough US journeyman Ross Puritty. Wlad lead through most of the fight but tired quickly going into the late rounds. By the 11th round Klitschko's corner stopped the fight because of "dehydration". Wlad had made a big mistake in expending too much of his energy early on. This fight still hangs over Wlad's career like a dark cloud. Many analysts feel that this fight indicates that Klitschko won't be able to handle the really difficult fights in the future.
vs. Chris Byrd: Wlad quickly recovered from this stumble and racked up 10 more wins and picked up a minor belt. He defeated another US journeyman, David Bostice, and probably sent aging Axel Shulz into retirement. In the meantime his brother Vitali had picked up the WBO Heavyweight title only to lose it to the much smaller, but highly skilled, Chris Byrd in 2000. Six months later, Byrd was in the ring with Wlad. All of Byrd's skill couldn't get him past the size of his opponent though. Wlad knocked Byrd down twice on route to a unanimous decision and a semi-legitimate Heavyweight title.
vs. Ray Mercer: Wlad KO'd three more opponents, including Francois Botha before the most recent defense of his title against "Merciless" Ray Mercer. This fight was intended to be a "Showcase" fight to start to build Wlad's popularity here in the States. While Mercer was a real contender at this prime, at 41 he was more of a punching bag. Klitschko pounded Mercer around the ring for 6 rounds before the ref had enough and stopped the fight. Even though Mercer wasn't the best opponent the fight did show off Klitschko's devastating skills.
You don't need to know much about Boxing to see what Klitschko's main Pro is. At 6'7" tall and weighing in at 240+ with no fat on him, Klitschko is a very large boxer. Even more surprising, when he starts throwing punches they are very quick and fluid. He throws a tremendous number of punches for a Heavyweight and moves around the ring great.
Who knows? Wlad is largely untested. In Boxing, one of the most important aspects of a fighter is "heart". What will happen when things don't go well for Wlad? Will he fall apart and give up like against Ross Purrity? Or will dig deep down and fight back like Micky Ward?
So far, Wladimir Klitschko's future is very bright. He is currently trying to get a major fight against a big name like Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield, or, of course, a shot at the true Heavyweight title held by Lennox Lewis. It's hard to imagine the future of Heavyweight boxing without a Klitschko at the top. Besides the soon to retire Lennox Lewis, only Jameel McCline can match the Klitschko's in size. This fact combined with Wlad's obvious Boxing skill make him the future of Heavyweight Boxing.
Wlad appeared in the recent movie, Ocean's Eleven, in a staged Boxing match against Lennox Lewis. A real fight against Lewis could possible happen and it should be a good one. Wlad has stated that he would like to precede the Boxing Match with a Chess Match "refereed" by Gary Kasparov. The outcome is great regardless of who wins. Lewis will truly cement his legacy as the best boxer of his era if he beats Klitschko, and otherwise the fight will usher in a new era in Boxing: The Klitschko Era.
Last Updated: July 3, 2002
HBO's Boxing After Dark
ESPN's Friday Night Fights, www.espn.com/boxing
www.boxrec.com (contains complete Boxing Record)
Quick Note (05/28/2004): Since the last update Wlad's career has hit rock bottom. Last year Wlad was KO'd in several rounds by S. African journeyman Corrie Sanders
. He recently returned to the ring after this debacle but lost again to Lamon Brewster
. All three of his losses have shown a bizarre lack of endurance. It is now obvious that his chances of being a dominate champ are few. Oddly, his older brother Vitaly, is now a Heavy champ and scheduled to become Lennox Lewis's predecessor.