By Johnny Walker
Every time Vitali Klitschko is interviewed by any media outlet, be it large or small, these days, he is badgered about his retirement date. It’s become tiresome to hear him constantly asked about it, and to see the uncomfortable look on Vitali’s face as he tries to diplomatically answer. Usually, Vitali comes up with something like, “I don’t want to break George Foreman’s record,” meaning he doesn’t plan on sticking around until he’s 45. Vitali has been forced to repeat this to the point where it is almost as painful for the audience to hear it as it obviously is for him to say it again (and again).
A better question than, “When is Vitali going to retire?” might be, “Why is the boxing media so anxious to push him into retirement?”
Again last week, the sometimes ridiculous echo-chamber that is “Internet journalism” began replicating a story about Vitali supposedly telling a Ukrainian TV station that he only “has one, maybe two fights left” before he retires to concentrate on politics. Never mind that this story was not confirmed by anyone in the Klitschko camp or from whatever Ukrainian show it was that Vitali allegedly said this on. There was no video clip, no translation of the interview from anyone. Soon the story was everywhere, even with laughable speculation on one web site as to what it meant for David Haye and Tyson Fury that Vitali was exiting the heavyweight scene. David Haye and Tyson Fury?
Almost predictably, reports soon surfaced in which Vitali expressed surprise at the retirement rumors, and promised his fans he was going nowhere, at least in the near future. Oooops. Once again, the Internet boxing media has egg on its face. Nothing new there.
And it’s funny how that same boxing media doesn’t seem to badger someone like James “Lights Out” Toney, who is 43, about his retirement plans every time he opens his mouth.
So here’s some advice to the people who keep pushing for a Vitali retirement story: give it up. The man may be 40 years old, but he just shut down a very good fighter in Tomasz Adamek as if it were child’s play. Having lost over three years of his career due to injury, Vitali is obviously relishing this period of his boxing life, making up for lost time. And unlike his sometimes too timid younger brother Wladimir, Vitali Klitschko is a tough, mean guy in the ring: he loves the action, and is always worth watching.
So quit trying to shove him out the door.
Boxing has enough problems with a lack of heavyweight star power right now: the exit of Vitali Klitschko would be a very bad thing for boxing worldwide. Instead of asking him when he’s going to quit, why not encourage Vitali to continue for as long as he’s able?
And from the looks of his latest performances, that might be for quite some time.