Klitschko’s Reputation On The Line This Saturday
By: Sean Crose
Let’s not kid ourselves – Wladimir Klitschko is not the world’s most popular fighter. Oh, Klitschko has his fans – particularly in continental Europe – but Tyson Fury knew he’d get nods when he essentially said he liberated the heavyweight title from the Ukrainian big man. In short, Klitshcko was one of the less exciting individuals to ever dominate the heavyweight division. Muhammad Ali he most distinctly was not. Holding – perhaps excessively – and throwing straight all night long doesn’t make for thrilling fights. Even Klitschko’s power, which has always been exceedingly impressive, has never won his detractors over. As a longtime fan once told me, there’s nothing explosive about the guy.
And now the forty plus year old finds himself in the match of his life against rising English superstar Anthony Joshua. Indeed, Joshua seems to have that indefinable star quality that people have long been looking for among the heavyweights. Statuesque, skilled and extremely powerful, many claim Joshua is the real deal – and the future of his division. Here’s the thing, though: He’s never fought anyone like Klitschko. That’s right, stiff, boring Klitschko has a real chance here.
That’s something that becomes quite obvious when you consider the fact that Joshua has already been rocked by an opponent (hello, Dillian Whyte). What happens if he takes some of those classic Klitschko shots? He’d better be ready for them, because the former heavyweight king is clearly aiming on putting his gloved fists to good use on Saturday. What’s more, Klitschko is clearly aware of the fact that his reputation, his ENTIRE reputation, is on the line this weekend. Fan base aside, the man is widely seen as the monarch of a thoroughly lifeless reign that ran far too long. That could all change for the fighter come Saturday, though. Believe it.
For Joshua will be seen as Klitschko’s single greatest accomplishment should the former champ win in impressive fashion in England, where the bout with Joshua will be held. Everyone loves a comeback. There’s just something impressive about a person getting ground down, then rising back up again. Should Klitschko pull it off, he may just earn himself a lot of love, the kind of love he hasn’t seen before. Or, if he doesn’t get the love, he’ll at least get the respect. Regaining a lost title goes a long way to taking away the yawn factor. Klitschko’s a smart guy. He knows what a win this Saturday will bring. Team Joshua may want to be mindful of what exactly is at stake for the former champion.