By Kirk Jackson
After nearly a 10 year run, heavyweight great Wladimir Klitschko 64-4 (53 KO’s) finally lost a fight.
The scene of the crime took place with thousands of spectators in attendance at the ESPRIT arena, in Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany and was witnessed by many viewers across the globe.
The perpetrator who executed the crime is Manchester’s Tyson Fury 25-0 (18 KO’s); the giant slayer who is indeed a giant in his own right.
Klitschko, the 10 year champ, ruled the division with hammer fists; steel hammer fists that is, along with his older brother Vitali for the better part of the 2000’s.
Wladimir, with legitimate claim to the pound for pound throne prior to his recent defeat will more than likely retire within the next year or so as he eeks closer to the age of 40.
This wasn’t exactly a picturesque swan song for the Ukrainian great; this unspectacular finish certainly signifies the end of an era for one of boxing’s thriving stars of yester year.
And although Klitschko will effectively exercise his rematch clause and face Fury again at some point next year, it looks as though things may be over for once dominant champion.
As the year 2015 draws to a close, it appears this is truly the end of an era.
Boxing’s long standing preeminent star Floyd Mayweather, announced his retirement earlier this year after defeating Manny Pacquiao and Andre Berto to raise his record to 49-0 (26 KO’s).
Speaking of Pacquiao, he announced his intentions to retire in 2016 to focus on family and of course his political affairs in the Philippines.
Other well-known fighters appear to be at the end of the road as well.
Miguel Cotto appears to be on his way out, in the midst of an erroneously scored, controversial, unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Saul Alvarez.
In all likelihood, former two division champion Paulie Malignaggi will hang up the gloves and resume his bright career as a boxing analyst. We can only hope Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones follow suit.
Four time super middleweight champion Carl Froch was last active in 2014 against George Groves and announced his plans for retirement earlier this year.
Juan Manuel Marquez hasn’t fought since May of 2014, as he is battling injuries and the natural wear and tear of a fighter well into his 40’s. He plans on fighting Cinco De Mayo weekend of 2016, but his opponent is yet to be determined.
Marquez made his debut back in 1993; a lengthy, legendary career spanning 3 decades and numerous gut wrenching battles.
With nothing left to prove, he appears to be approaching the finish line as well.
Shane Mosley probably should have retired a few years back after losing to Pacquiao and eventually serving as a stepping stone for Saul Alvarez.
It’s the cycle of life. The fighters we watched growing up eventually have to hang them up. This sport is as dangerous as it gets and only becomes more threatening as time passes by and athleticism fades.
If anything, this recent performance from Klitschko should serve as a harsh reminder about who truly is undefeated, Father Time.
Hopkins, Mayweather, Marquez have been diligent in fighting off father time, but eventually he overcomes every fighter. Klitschko certainly proved this sentiment.
In regards to Klitschko, we should celebrate his reign and appreciate what he has accomplished.
Klitschko has held the IBF, WBA, and the WBO heavyweight titles longer than any other fighter in history, and he has defended the IBF and WBO titles more than any other fighter. He held all of these titles along with The Ring Heavyweight title simultaneously.
Overall, he is the second longest-reigning heavyweight champion of all-time.
Only Joe Louis, who is often considered the greatest heavyweight of all time, has a longer title reign.
During his title reign, Klitschko made 18 consecutive title defenses. Only Louis and another heavyweight great Larry Holmes, have more consecutive title defenses. If we include his first reign as champion, Klitschko has 23 title defenses in total and only trails Louis who has 25.
Klitschko has a record of 25-3 (19 KOs) in world title fights.
He spent 4,383 days as a champion over two separate title reigns with his last reign spanning almost a decade. No matter how you slice it that’s impressive.
Often times, as spectators we do not always appreciate greatness as it comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s even more difficult to appreciate an athlete who is levels above dominant against the rest of the field.
Mayweather was a victim of this other great athletes experienced this as well and Klitschko certainly falls into the same category.
He should not be penalized for his fighting style or for the era he fought in. He may not have the most aesthetically appeasing fighting style, but he took on all challengers and the goal is to win and be effective right?
Klitschko was the master of efficiency. Very technical fighter as he possessed underrated footwork, incredibly high boxing intellect, controlling jab and a devastating right hand. At one point in time, Wladimir held the record for highest heavyweight knockout ratio.
Thank you Wladimir Klitschko and all of the other great fighters of the last 15 years or so that made boxing what it is.
As the fighters of this previous era exit the sport one by one, it will be interesting to watch the current crop of fighters step in, as they create their respective paths and etch their own legend.