Wladimir Klitschko stood atop the heavyweight division for the best part of a decade, from the day he won the IBF iteration of the world championship against Chris Byrd in 2006, until he was shockingly dethroned by Tyson Fury in 2015, by which stage he had collected three of the four widely recognised titles.
His reign falls just behind that of the legendary Joe Louis’ in the all time history of the blue ribbon division, and rightly saw Klitschko inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2022.
Many have called into question the standard of opposition faced by ‘Dr Steelhammer’ in this period, which was widely regarded as a particular weak era in terms of heavyweights.
Tony Bellew is the latest to throw shade on Klitschko’s resume, saying whilst appearing on Up Front with Simon Jordan that he was “spoon fed” opponents.
“Klitschko, throughout his era, had been spoon-fed guys who were smaller, inferior to him and who didn’t have as much power as him.”
“So when he came up against someone like Fury who was just as big, just as powerful, he just got done by the mind games and was bamboozled when he got into the ring. He just couldn’t deal with the movement.”
Though a contractual rematch clause was activated, Klitschko would never get his shot at revenge on Fury, after ‘The Gypsy King’ withdrew from the sport for three years due to a well documented mental health struggle.
The Ukrainian did, however, get the opportunity to become heavyweight world champion once again in 2017, when he faced Anthony Joshua for the IBF and WBA titles at Wembley Stadium.
In one of the best heavyweight fights of the last 20 years, Klitschko would ultimately get stopped by the fresher fight, and announced his retirement from boxing in the weeks after, aged 41