By: Joe Toppe Staff Writer
September 19, 2013
They’re not the typical heavyweight champions. They’re not brutes. They’re not from the mean streets of Chicago, Louisville or Baltimore, and they have no rivals outside of each other.
They’re Ukrainian with PhD’s. They’re methodical with a talent for chess. They hold every major belt in the heavyweight division, and they almost never lose.
Vitali and Wladamir Klitschko have combined to win a total of 105 bouts with just five losses, and given these staggering statistics, it would be difficult to deny them a place among the all-time greats.
Ali is widely considered the greatest of all time but he is also remembered for his three wars with Joe Frazier including his one loss to Smokin’ Joe, and who can forget that lunging left hook that put Ali on his back in the 15th round of their first fight?
Of course, Mike Tyson is remembered for his intimidation and formidable punching power, but he is also remembered for his knockout loss to Buster Douglas, biting a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear off in frustration, and a lop-sided thumping he took from Lennox Lewis.
But the Klitschko brothers have rarely been involved in anything other than a one-sided beating they were dishing out, and for all of you that would argue against the validity of their opponents, just try and name more than one man Tyson defeated.
Not that easy is it?
In fact, if you were to remove both of the brothers from boxing today, I am betting the division would look more competitive.
Perhaps the validity of the heavyweight division is in question because the Klitschko’s are making it look so easy?
And who’s to say they wouldn’t have dominated every era with their formidable size and reach?
It’s hard to imagine a 5-foot-11-inch Joe Frazier or a 5-foot-10-inch Mike Tyson ever getting past Vladimir’s jab or Vitilai’s 6- foot-7- inch frame.
The problem for American boxing fans and the assortment of other critics lining up to discredit the two brothers lies in a common misconception of their contemporaries.
The Utah Jazz and the New York Nicks put together some amazing teams throughout the 1990’s but they are largely remembered for not getting it done. Why? I’ll tell you why, because Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were standing in their way and made it look so easy.
Of course, many would say the NBA in the 1980’s was a higher level of professional basketball because there was a perceived higher degree of talented teams.
Teams like Bird’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, and Isaiah’s Pistons.
The 1980’s were viewed as a better era for professional basketball because there were so many great teams of equal talent fighting it out each year, but none of them could distance themselves from the rest of their contemporaries like the Bulls did in the 1990’s or the Klitchko’s have done in the modern era of heavyweight boxing.
Remove Michael Jordan from the 1990’s equation and you have memorable competition, an assortment of champions, and games for the ages.
Don’t believe me? What happened to the Bulls when Michael Jordan decided to play baseball?
Let me tell you.
Jordan’s Bulls won three consecutive NBA titles until he retired from basketball to play professional baseball. During that time, Scottie Pippen’s Bulls made the playoffs but did not win a championship. When Jordan returned to the Bulls in 1995, he promptly guided them to three more consecutive titles, and just like that basketball was boring again.
Why? Because we knew who was going to win.
There is nothing wrong with heavyweight boxing today; it is just being dominated so thoroughly that it has degraded the talent of anyone not named Klitchhko.
In essence, it is boring because we all know who is going to win.
And I don’t think that would change in any era.