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Heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko notches 16th consecutive title defense
Unified IBF/WBA/WBO and IBO/Ring Magazine heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (62-3, 52 KOs) successfully defended his titles with a dominant fifth-round KO of Alex Leapai (30-5-3, 24 KOs) of Australia last Saturday in Germany. The victory was Klitschko’s 16th consecutive defense of the word heavyweight title dating back to April 2006, which is third on the all-time list. Klitschko trails only Larry Holmes (20) and Joe Louis (25) for most successful title defenses in a single reign.
The 38 year-old’s destruction of Leapai was impressive, perfectly well-executed, and amongst one of his greatest performances.
“Despite my 38 years I felt superb,” Klitschko said afterwards. “I was in top form tonight in the ring.”
Klitschko, the 6’ 7,” 245-pound mammoth from Ukraine, is one of the dominant heavyweights in boxing history. Klitschko has defeated heavyweight of various sizes, skills, styles, and personalities through a well-accomplished professional career that began after he won a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. 65 professional fights, 52 highlight-reel knockouts, and with only three defeats is extremely impressive. The last time Klitschko lost was in 2004, a fifth-round KO loss to Lamon Brewster that was avenged in July 2007 during Klitschko’s third defense of his current title reign.
The opportunity to fight Leapai came as a surprise to Wladimir and K2 Promotions. Initially Klitschko was about to begin preparations for WBO mandatory challenger Denis Boytev, but he shockingly lost to Leapai in a stunning upset in his last fight in November 2013. The World Boxing Organization not only stripped Boytev of his No. 1-ranking, but gave it to Leapai, who was ranked No. 8 at the time the upset had transpired.
Leapai, a very big guy, but not the most athletic or very talented, entered the Klitschko fight with only a puncher’s chance. Leapai was very confident that he had the power, the skills, and the preparation to beat Klitschko.
“Klitschko is very tall but no different to a lot of the guys I’ve fought,” Leapai said during the initial press conference in February. He knows how to use his reach, so it’s something that we’ve got to work on but I’ve fought a lot of guys his height and it’s all about cutting the distance and getting inside.”
Once Leapai got inside, Klitschko scored a knockdown with a single jab in the first round. Leapai’s experience against bigger men or of Klitschko’s size didn’t help him. Leapai was dominated from the start. He reportedly landed only 10 punches to Klitschko’s 147. Klitschko’s mandatory defense against Leapai in front of a sold out crowd in Oberhausen, Germany and watched by more than 9 million viewers on RTL in Germany was target practice.
Klitschko ended the session with two knockdowns in the round five, as referee Eddie Cotton waved the bout at the 2:05 mark.
Wladimir, throughout his entire career, is taking some of the best heavyweights in the last 20 years (post Mike Tyson, post Lennox Lewis, post Evander Holyfield, of course) and he is destroying them easily. Klitschko’s dominance has reached the pinnacle where he is fighting guys that he has never heard of: Mariusz Wach and Francesco Pianeta are among the unknown hat Klitschko has fought inthje last two years.
Klitschko will continue to dominate the heavyweight ranks for as long as he wants because, there is no other heavyweight in the division with the size, skills, and experience to seriously challenge Wladimir, who at age 38 is better than he was 10 years ago. Perhaps the winner of the rematch between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverene for the vacant WBC heavyweight title may be of interest. Tyson Fury and Derrick Chisora will fight for a mandatory shot at Klitschko. Deontay Wilder, the last American to win an Olympic medal, is apeerfect 31-0, 31 KOs in his career. Also, Shannon Briggs, the last American world heavyweight champion has been making a lot of noise. He has been stalking Wladimir from sice his training camp in Florida to the final press conference with Leapai last week in Germany. Four years ago, Briggs unsuccessfully challenged Wladimir’s older brother Vitali for the WBC title, and is currently riding a two-fight winning streak.
The remainder of 2014 will be v ery interesting and exciting during the next 18 months.