Boxing: Wladimir Klitschko’s Loss Signals End of Era

By Andreas Hale Dec 8, 2015
Editor's note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

Despite hosting one of the biggest fights in years, 2015 has officially become the year where the old guard washes out of boxing.

With Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao’s long-awaited clash now over and both fighters set to hang up their gloves -- Mayweather in September; Pacquiao in April -- the last to fall from the old regime of long-standing champions was Wladimir Klitschko. The 39-year-old lost his world heavyweight titles on Nov. 28 in a putrid performance which was less about the rise of opponent Tyson Fury and more about the decline of “Dr. Steelhammer.”

Boxing has entered a new era with talent such as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Deontay Wilder, Roman Gonzalez, Terence Crawford, Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev taking the reigns to ride the sport into the new frontier. In order for that to happen, however, the rulers of the old kingdom needed to come off the throne.

In the last 18 months, just about all of the top fighters from the mid to late 2000s have left the sport or been forced out of it. Klitschko had been standing tall atop the heavyweight mountain for more than a decade. Between he and his brother Vitali, the Klitschkos effectively pulled boxing’s money division out of the states and into European territory. But everyone has to fall sooner or later.

Ironically, it would be an English boxer named after an American icon who would dethrone Klitschko. Tyson Fury, the 6-foot-9 giant with a mouth that never stops, made good on his promise as he yanked away the IBF, WBA, IBO and Ring titles with a unanimous decision victory before a shocked crowd in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Although the story should be about Fury finally taking down the champion -- and delivering a rendition of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” to his wife afterward -- it’s really about how Klitschko grew very old, very fast in a matter of 36 minutes.

Fury did little to excite as he landed a mere 23 percent of his punches (86 of 371), but he may have been a defensive dynamo in the mold of Mayweather. Klitschko landed only 52 of 231 punches at a 23 percent clip. He couldn’t get anything off as the jab was absolutely ineffective. Fury’s movement and height all contributed to Klitschko looking every bit of his 39 years.

Could it have been simply an “off” night for the Ukrainian? Perhaps. But it’s not likely considering that Klitschko was neutralized from the outset. He looked like Kobe Bryant with bad knees, ready to announce his retirement but unwilling to do so on this night. However, it might be time for Klitschko to follow Mayweather, Pacquiao and Hopkins into retirement. He’s done all that he could do and dominated a division -- albeit a relatively weak one -- for over 10 years. If nothing else, his departure would allow some new blood to inject some excitement into a division that has long grown stale.

Unlike Mayweather and Pacquiao, Klitschko never truly connected with American audiences, as his style was never built on the excitement and unpredictability expected of heavyweights. Instead, he used a long jab, a massive frame and technical prowess to dominate undersized opponents. It was never a fun exercise to watch for a casual fan who didn’t connect with his personality or fighting style. Fury brings forth a colorful personality who could engage all audiences. As American prospect Wilder also comes with a big personality to match his dynamite power punching, boxing could finally be in for a heavyweight throwdown that would appeal to more than just diehard fans.

Although it appears that Klitschko will exercise his rematch clause, it’s safe to surmise that his reign has come to an end. Sometimes, the end of an era is the start of something new and fresh. Let’s hope the heavyweight division finally gets the injection that it needs.

Andreas Hale is a content producer for Jay Z’s LifeandTimes.com and editor-in-chief of PremierWuzHere.com, as well as a frequent Sherdog.com columnist. Check out his archive here.

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