The recent announcement by Vitali Klitschko that he is retiring from professional boxing to concentrate on a political career is perhaps no surprise given the recent statements by the Ukrainian on the very subject. He will leave the sport having suffered only two defeats in 47 fights but his departure may finally offer the opportunity for a unification of the heavyweight division.
Since Klitschko and his brother Wladimir began to dominate world heavyweight boxing for most of the past 10 years, there has been few of the titanic battles of previous eras. Both brothers possess a style which offers little footwork but rather a mix of sharp jabbing interspersed with less frequent powerful punches. It is effective and successful boxing but does not offer the glamour and panache of previous crowd pullers such as Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
It can also be argued that the brothers have not fought the wealth of talent so prevalent in days gone by, although Vitali did lose to former World Champion Lennox Lewis via a controversial decision, after a cut eye ended the contest when he was leading on points.
Vitali will leave the professional circuit by relinquishing only the WBC version of the title as his brother is in possession of the other belts and they have always vowed not to fight each other.
Wladimir has now stated his aim of unifying the titles and that may herald a much needed new dawn in the heavyweight division. No longer will boxers be fighting a Klitschko in the hope of clinching a version of the most prized possession in world boxing.
No doubt, Wladimir will be forced to fight a leading contender when a unification bout is officially declared, but the goal of becoming the undisputed champion should be a spur for any leading ambitious heavyweight.
The fact that Wladimir is not invincible is another source for encouragement. Although he has not lost a bout for nearly 10 years and has won 61 of 64 fights, several boxing analysts have earmarked as the weaker of the two brothers pointing to his fallible chin of earlier days. Had David Haye shown the same sort of movement in his clash with the champion as when evident during his win against former WBA holder Nicolai Valuev, he may have averted a rather laboured defeat.
At 37 years old, Wladimir is five years younger than his brother and may have already surpassed his peak performance days but that may only be a guess. For now, at least one of his rivals must prove that he is finally capable of wresting control of the world titles from the Klitschko brothers and in doing so, reawaken the heavyweight boxing scene.
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