With all due adoration to Rodney Dangerfield, Wladimir Klitschko is the one who gets no respect.
Having defended the heavyweight title 17 consecutive times going into his match with Kubrat Pulev at the O2 Arena in Hamburg, Germany, it’s safe to say that Klitschko does not get the credit he deserves for being such a consistent force in the boxing world.
Make that 18 consecutive.
Related: Klitschko vs. Pulev Play-by-Play
It was the 21st straight victory and 18th consecutive title defense for Klitschko, who owns the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and “The Ring” world champion titles. Only boxing icons Joe Louis (25) and Larry Holmes (20) defended the heavyweight title more.
Klitschko downed Pulev twice in the opening period and once more in the third before dropping the Bulgarian for good with a vicious left hook. A count from referee Tony Weeks was not even needed. The official time was 2:11 of round five.
Pulev, considered by many to be the stiffest test in years for the 38-year-old champion, seemed tight and uncomfortable against the Ukrainian. Off to a horrible start with the two knockdowns in the first round, Pulev was never able to get his feet under him and establish any meaningful offense. Both fighters seemed satisfied to clinch and bide their time for later in the fight.
“This was a tough fight,” stated Klitschko through a translator, who upped his record to 63-4 with the win. “Kubrat Pulev was a tough, worthy opponent, and I felt this was the only way to get close to him. The way Pulev sets up. And it turns out I was right.”
His opponent had little to say after the match, having suffered his first defeat as a professional.
“He beat me fair and square,” said Pulev, now 20-1 with the loss. “I offer him the respect he deserves.”
Time will tell if the boxing world follows suit.
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