Vitali Klitschko Receives Arthur Ashe Courage Award at 2022 ESPYs
By John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Ukrainian heavyweight boxing legend and current Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award For Courage Wednesday night at the 2022 ESPY awards.
Known as “Dr. Ironfist” during his boxing career, where he amassed a glittering record of 45-2 with 41 wins coming by way of knockout–an 87.23% KO percentage–Vitali and his younger brother Wladimir dominated the boxing world for over a decade. Vitali held both the WBO and WBC world titles, and was named “Eternal World Heavyweight Champion” by the latter organization.
Remarkably, in 2008, Klitschko came back from a retirement of over three years due to an injured knee to regain the WBC title strap by making Samuel Peter retire on his stool. Having lost just two matches, both due to injuries, before his initial retirement from boxing, Vitali would remain undefeated during the utterly dominant second phase of his career.
After retiring from boxing for the second time in 2013 at the age of 42, Vitali Klitschko found a second career in politics, becoming the Mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, in 2014.
Both Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have been back in the headlines of late for their bravery as they battle against the Russian invasion of their country. Actor Dwayne Johnson, accepting the award on Klitschko’s behalf, called Vitali “a man who will tell you very plainly, that sports is part of the reason he is where he is.”
“Vitali is a hero, who has shown the world what courage truly looks like,” Johnson added.
The ESPY award, named for African-American tennis great Arthur Ashe, recognizes those who find ways through sports to make a difference far beyond the field.
A video of Klitschko’s life story played during the broadcast, and retold his journey from heavyweight boxing champion to mayor of Kyiv.
Klitschko Brothers Object to Dimitry Bivol vs Canelo Matchup; Bivol Says “It’s Sad” They Have Become Politicians. Plus: Will Tyson Fury Show in Vegas?
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Former heavyweight champions of the world the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, won’t be cheering on WBA light heavyweight champion Dimitry Bivol when the latter man takes on superstar Canelo Alvarez this Saturday evening at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Though Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs), a Russian, has spoken out against the war his country has chosen to wage against neighboring Ukraine, the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers are far from satisfied about Bivol is getting a world wide platform to perform against Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) in the middle of a bloody conflict that his country started.
According to former unified world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, currently fighting on the front lines with his brother [the current mayor of Kyiv] Vitali, it’s nothing personal against Bivol, but a matter of principle.
In an interview with the BBC, Wladimir recently opined that “[Bivol should] absolutely not [be facing Canelo]. Every sanction, and it’s nothing against the personality or athletes, it’s about the politics of Russia.”
“Every Russian representative in this case needs to be sanctioned, because this way we show to Russia that the world is against this senseless war and that there’s no good in this war,” Klitschko said.
Bivol, of course, sees the issue differently, and claims the realms of sports and politics should be kept separate.
“All his career I support [Wladimir], I liked how he was fighting and of course I was glad when he won,” said a somber Bivol.
“He is [a] sportsman, he should know sports and politics is different. He was [an] athlete. Now he is politician. It is sad that wants to shake it up and mix sport and politics,” a downcast Bivol told Britain’s IFL TV.
While the Klitschkos won’t be making a Vegas trip to see Bivol defend his title against Alvarez, one face to look for at ringside is that of current “retired” WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Last weekend, Matchroom promotions honcho Eddie Hearn put on a successful women’s boxing headliner featuring popular Irish fighter Katie Taylor at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
Irish compatriots such as former pugilist Matthew “Mack The Knife” Macklin, and according to rumor, Tyson Fury himself were slated to fly to Manhattan to cheer on their woman, but Mackin and “other boxing figures” were refused entry into the USA due to their connections with former MGM/MTK honcho and reputed Irish mob kingpin, Daniel Kinahan (“MTK” is an acronym for Mack The Knife).
Fury, rumor has it, was tipped off not to get on the plane to Manhattan. The WBC champion, who recently made light work of hapless challenger Dillian Whyte, was very friendly with Kinahan until the FBI offered a $5 million reward for the mob boss, at which point an agitated Fury was adamant that he knew nothing of Kinahan’s business and split ties with him.
If Fury, who recently bought a home in the Las Vegas area, and who is due to meet with the WBC next week to discuss his retirement plans–which he claims are 100% irreversible–fails to show at the Canelo vs Bivol tilt, the rumor mill over Fury’s own legal status regarding Kinahan and the now-defunct MTK Global promotional outfit will surely go into overdrive.
Dr. Ironfist Passes The Torch to Usyk
By: John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Ukrainian boxing legend and former two-time WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko, currently the mayor of the country’s capital city of Kyiv, honored his countryman Oleksandr Usyk today, symbolically “passing the torch” to the man who put on a boxing display for the ages last Saturday in defeating former unified heavyweight world champ Anthony Joshua of the UK in London.
Vitali, who amassed a sterling record of 45-2-0 with 41 KOs, was the more feared of two Klitschko brothers who ruled boxing’s heavyweight division for more than a decade (his younger brother is Wladimir, who, unlike his brother, was not present today or in London for Usyk’s victory).
Mayor Klitschko symbolically awarded Usyk a WBC title belt as part of the ceremony.
Vitali Klitschko was a boxing gunslinger, and these days his reputation often suffers by his being unfairly lumped in with his younger brother’s more cautious, “jab and grab” style, when in truth Vitali seldom clinched his opponents, threw copious amounts of punches, and was blessed with a granite jaw that allowed him to fight with his hands held low. His career knockout percentage of 87 percent ranks among the best ever. He held the WBC heavyweight title twice, the second time winning it in his first fight after returning from over three years out of the ring due to a knee injury.
And the elder Klitschko brother was mightily impressed by what he saw when Usyk bravely took on a much bigger man in Joshua, fighting with skill and aggression and emerging the victor, winning the WBA, WBA, and IBF titles.
“I once again congratulate you on your victory and want to present a symbolic gift to you. You now hold four heavyweight championship belts, but you do not have a WBC belt in this category yet,” Klitschko told Usyk.
“And you will definitely win it,” an enthused Klitschko continued.
“I am presenting you with the first WBC belt with a large Ukrainian flag, which was made for the WBC Convention that took place in Kyiv in 2018. This is to make you lucky and motivated! After all, your idol, Muhammad Ali, also held such a belt,” Klitschko continued.
Also, present via video link to the ceremony was WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, whose organization gave Vitali the title of “Eternal World Heavyweight Champion.” Usyk thanked Klitschko for the honors and good wishes and told Sulaiman that the WBC strap would be the next trophy that he collects.
Usyk has expressed the desire to now spend time with his family and wants any rematch with Joshua to take place in his homeland of Ukraine.
David Haye: “I will never turn down a fight with Vitali!”
By Johnny Walker
Former WBA heavyweight champion David “Hayemaker” Haye and his manager Adam Booth have struck back hard against claims made yesterday by the Klitschko brothers and their manager Bernd Boente to the effect that the UK fighter ducked a September matchup with WBC champion Vitali.
“I offered Haye a fight for September, but he obviously does not want to fight me. He ducked out to face [Dereck] Chisora instead,” Vitali Klitschko said yesterday while in Britain to promote the Klitschko biopic.
“I don’t think it [Haye-Vitali] will happen,” Boente added.
“It will definitely not happen in September because we are already talking to a couple of different opponents for then and it is too close for Haye to fight him after his fight against Chisora.
“[Haye] never really wanted to fight Vitali. “The guy is always talking. He barks like a dog and is mostly afraid.”
These new claims by camp Klitschko were somewhat surprising, given the Hayemaker’s claims that the biggest reason for his recent unretirement was the allure of a fight with the elder Klitschko brother.
And today, Haye and his trainer/manager Booth fired back on the fighter’s website.
“It makes absolutely no sense for me to turn down a fight I desperately want,” Haye contends.
“Remember, the whole idea behind going ahead with this Chisora fight was that a victory may then lead to a fight with Vitali Klitschko. That was my plan, my reason for returning to the ring.
“I want to fight on 14 July and then again in September, and have been telling people this for months now.”
According to the Hayemaker, camp Klitschko is trying to maneuver around a fight with him because Vitali looked like a mere mortal against Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora last time out, and can’t risk a loss before the mayoral elections in Kiev this fall, where he is a leading candidate.
Yesterday, Boente lent more credence to this notion by stating that Vitali will immediately retire from boxing if he wins the election.
“What is clear to me is that K2 [Klitschko’s management] are now happy to protect an ageing Vitali and usher him towards politics as soon as possible,” says Haye.
“Politics is about popularity, and Vitali’s popularity in Ukraine would take a massive hit if he were to get knocked out by me before retiring.
“It’s imperative for him to keep winning and beating up puddings en route to retirement, as that sets him up nicely for a career in politics.
“At this advanced stage in his career, the last thing on Vitali’s mind are tough challenges in the ring. He’s essentially semi-retired, which is fine, so long as he comes clean about it. Don’t go stringing everybody along – fighters and fans – when some of us know the truth.”
“Unfortunately, Vitali will probably now look to fight some no-hoper, while telling the boxing world I turned down the fight.
“I will never turn down a fight with Vitali,” Haye states flatly.
For his part, Adam Booth expressed surprised at the statements coming from “Herr Boente.”
“Today I read that Herr Boente claims David ‘turned the fight down’ and ‘does not want to fight Vitali’,” Booth says.
“Both of these claims are completely false. If Vitali wants to fight David in September, we are here and happy to accept. If not, no worries or sadness from our side.
“Maybe K2 realized during Vitali’s fight with Chisora in February that their precious champion was drastically slowing down and didn’t fancy going up against anyone too quick in the future. Whatever their reasoning, if Herr Boente is happy to spin the lines he feeds people, good for him.”
Both Booth and Haye also express cynicism toward the recent statements of outrage from the Klitschko brothers and their manager over Haye’s upcoming fight with Dereck Chisora, with world heavyweight champion Wladimir repeatedly branding the fight a “freak show.”
They feel that camp Klitschko is merely furious because of the interest of the boxing public in the bout, as compared to the indifferent yawns provoked by Wladimir’s scheduled tilt with a man he’s already knocked out, Tony Thompson.
“They can call my fight against Chisora a freak show as much as they like, but we all know that so-called freak show will have more people interested in it than either of the Klitschkos’ next fights,” Haye contends.
“Who wants to see Wladimir fight Tony Thompson again? Even Tony Thompson doesn’t want to see that again. Their first fight was horrible enough.
“Also, anybody with an ounce of intelligence would know that Boente and the Klitschkos were only name-dropping and ridiculing my fight with Chisora to raise some publicity over here for the Klitschko film, which they happened to be in London promoting on Monday night.”
Booth also gets a dig in at his nemesis Boente, who, during the infamous press conference scuffle in Munich—a scuffle that the Klitschkos themselves appeared to be enjoying at the time, only to express shock and disgust with later—was an instigator, holding the carrot of a Klitschko title shot out on a stick to the winner of a Haye-Chisora showdown.
“It’s bizarre just how much hatred with agenda the Haye versus Chisora fight has attracted,” Booth muses.
“Maybe Bernd Boente has short-term memory issues. A quick look back at the video of that infamous Munich press conference clearly shows Bernd agreeing with Frank Warren that Haye and Chisora should fight for the right to challenge Vitali.”
Dereck Chisora Licensed in Luxembourg as the Klitschko Brothers Howl
By Johnny Walker
Flamboyant UK Heavyweight Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora rubbed the noses of the protesting BBBoC (British Boxing Board of Control), WBC, BDB (German Boxing Board)–and who knows, maybe a few more other acronyms as well–in it Monday as he travelled to Luxembourg to pick up his boxing license for his July 14 grudge showdown in London with his countryman David Haye.
Meanwhile, the world heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, took to the British airwaves and opened rhetorical fire on both Chisora and Haye—their two most loathed rivals–as they visited the UK to promote their excellent film documentary, simply entitled Klitschko.
A relaxed Del Boy even hung out at a Luxembourg boxing gym, kibitzing with the local fighters.
“I had plenty of opportunities to be licensed by other countries, but I chose Luxembourg because they were very respectful towards me, very accommodating and friendly people and I look forward to making them proud,” the eccentric Brit said at a press conference where he was presented with his license, in a dig at the aforementioned organizations seeking to prevent the fight from happening at all.
Adding insult to the BBBoC’s injury, Tony Tiberi, General Secretary of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation, said, “Dereck Chisora is a great champion and become a hero in Luxembourg when he visited a boxing gym today and made a lot of boxers day by helping with some coaching. We are sure he will not let the people of Luxembourg down. He will now go into the ring know as the Red Lion of Luxembourg.”
Earlier in the day, the German BDB had sided with the BBBoC and WBC against promoter Frank Warren, the WBO and the WBA, and demanded that the fight not take place.
Tipping his hand, BDB president Thomas Putz said: “I was surprised, disappointed, upset and shocked when I heard [about the] fight between Dereck Chisora and David Haye.
“Neither Chisora or Haye hold a valid licence with the BBBofC.
“For obvious and good reasons Dereck Chisora has lost his license with the BBBoC, is under suspension from the BDB, and has been suspended indefinitely by the WBC. This fact alone justifies Wladimir Klitschko’s comment that we should not talk about a boxing fight but about a ‘freak show’. I have to say that, even though I would choose a different wording, I totally agree with our world heavyweight champion in this point.”
Ahhh, the Klitschkos.
Can it really be a surprise that the Klitschko brothers, who rule the German boxing scene, are pressuring the BDB to put the whammy on the fight between the two men they most loathe?
Haye, you will remember, was the Klitschkos’ sworn enemy, the man who featured their two severed heads on a T-shirt and who trash-talked them like no one before.
Then along came Dereck Chisora, who slapped WBC champion Vitali’s face hard at the weigh-in before their fight, and spit water in Wladimir’s face in the ring.
After Chisora got in the act, David Haye almost seemed like an OK guy to the Ukrainian brothers.
Visiting various British media outlets on Monday to promote the opening of their documentary, the brothers took verbal aim at both Chisora and Haye.
“It is not right to sanction this fight,” Wladimir argued.
“That is my opinion. I am totally against it. People have compared Mike Tyson to Chisora and said he has done some bad things too. Let’s not compare Mike Tyson to Dereck Chisora. Mike Tyson has been the youngest heavyweight champion of the world and he has been an exciting fighter.
“Haye-Chisora is a fight between two losers,” Vitali chimed in.
“Haye lost to Wladimir, Chisora lost to me. I offered Haye a fight for September, but he obviously does not want to fight me. He ducked out to face Chisora instead. The fight between them has no meaning in the sport.
“It’s two losers against each other.”
Perhaps. But given the fact that the boxing public has been polled as being roughly 75% in favor of Haye and Chisora getting together, some of this complaining from the Klitschko camp comes across as sour grapes.
Put simply, Haye versus Chisora is a heavyweight fight the public wants to see.
The Klitschkos can’t really say the same about the Wladimir’s upcoming mandatory title defence against Tony Thompson, a man he’s already knocked out. And it seems that fact rankles them.
Sometimes always following the rules has its drawbacks, and occasionally breaking them pays off.
It has to hurt to see boxing fans so excited about a fight between the two men the brothers dislike so much.
WBC President Sulaiman: “Vitali Can’t Fight David Haye”
By Johnny Walker
According to a post on promoter Frank Maloney’s website, WBC president Jose Sulaiman has nixed the idea of a fight between his heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko and former WBA champ David Haye of England.
Both Klitschko and Haye have been chomping at the bit to fight each other, with Haye even announcing last week via Twitter that the fight was on.
Now, in opposition to both fighter’s wishes, Sulaiman has thrown rhetorical cold water over the whole idea.
“The WBC will not accept David Haye,” writes Sulaiman.
“He is not rated by the WBC. And, The British Board of Boxing Control, can’t issue anything against someone who’s not affiliated to them any more. If he was licensed, he’d for sure have his license taken away from him. It would be setting a bad example for boxing if we accepted David Haye.
“This is a long feud, but I believe Vitali must think of the world, and not just limit himself to the area where he’s been fighting recently. I think he should now look for something more important and worldwide.”
Exactly who Sulaiman has in mind is the real question here.
There are few if any other fighters in the heavyweight division who can sell a fight like the “retired” British motormouth, so for pre-fight publicity and resulting fan interest alone, Haye versus Vitali is a sure-fire world-wide winner–especially after the recent highly publicized post-fight brawl in Germany featuring Haye belting his UK counterpart Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora in the face.
But Sulaiman isn’t having it.
“I would not like to mention David Haye again, because for me today, he’s not a good example for boxing,” he says. “Let’s talk about someone else that could be a reality. This is a joke!”
Some might say that the WBC president’s sudden worries about the image of the boxing are also a joke, but that is another story for another day.
Frank Warren’s Open Letter To WBC Head Jose Sulaiman
In the wake of a statement issued by WBC president Jose Sulaiman, in which British fighter Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora was indefinitely banned from fighting and asked to submit to anger management therapy, boxing promoter Frank Warren has published an open letter in SunSport to state his views on the matter:
I wish I could accuse you of having double standards. But I can’t, because I question whether you have any standards at all.
The way you have banned Dereck Chisora indefinitely, without even having the decency to call a hearing to establish the facts surrounding his recent bout against Vitali Klitschko, in my opinion shows you as a posturing, self-righteous egotist.
I learned of your decision through the media. You didn’t even let the British Boxing Board of Control, myself or Dereck know before you spoke to the world’s Press.
In any democracy, any man is innocent until proven guilty. But you appear to have set yourself up as judge, jury and executioner as far as Dereck is concerned.
You have announced an indefinite WBC ban on Dereck without a hearing and you have also said you will impose a ‘serious’ fine after you eventually do hold a hearing.
Again, you have found Chisora guilty without establishing any fact about what truly went on that night in Munich.
Not for one minute am I condoning what happened before the fight or with David Haye at the Press conference after the bout. I also believe boxing needs to discipline boxers who step out of line.
But I am staggered by how you have treated Dereck before you have heard any evidence from his side. It seems to me this is just a matter of convenience for your organisation.
Let me remind you how your organisation has dealt with other instances of indiscipline by boxers who wave the WBC flag.
Antonio Margarito was banned for a year by the California State Athletic Commission following the controversy over his hand wraps in the fight against Shane Mosley. He was accused of using some kind of plaster to make the bandages harder.
Without any WBC hearing, Margarito was then allowed to fight for a minor title in Mexico and made top contender to fight Manny Pacquiao.
Take Floyd Mayweather Jnr’s case, after he was found guilty of physically abusing a girlfriend.
You said the WBC should not touch Mayweather’s career or title as you wanted him to fight Manny Pacquiao.
I would like to remind you of the time you were injured in the brawl that took place between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, when Tyson disgustingly bit Lewis during the Press conference prior to their fight.
You didn’t call for a ban and rang me asking if you should sue those who hosted the conference and broadcast the fight because of the lack of security.
That is one of my issues with the events in Munich. But you don’t seem interested in what actually happened.
If Dereck Chisora was a world champion, would you be taking this stance?
Dereck Chisora Banned By World Boxing Council
by Johnny Walker
World Boxing Council heavyweight contender Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora has been banned from fighting and ordered to seek out anger management therapy as a result of the antics he engaged in before and after his recent failed title challenge against WBC champion Vitali Klitschko.
Chisora slapped Vitali hard in the face at the weigh-in, spat water in his brother Wladimir’s face during the ring introductions, and brawled with fellow UK heavyweight David Haye at the post-fight presser.
The WBC has issued the following statement on its website:
Jose Sulaiman, Mexico, president of The World Boxing Council has followed strictly all the actions related to the misconduct of Derek Chisora, that is considered one of the worst behaviors ever by a professional boxer, and we stand strongly with the BBB of C and the BDB to resolve this case immediately. The WBC is absolutely condemning behaviors that are not to be accepted in boxing under any circumstances and will act as soon as it can proceed to impose the fines and sanctions as we consider necessary.
The WBC is imposing a serious fine to be finally determined after the hearing to be held under the supervision of our counsel representative attorney Stephen Beverly. The WBC will also take off from the WBC rankings, the name of Derek Chisora and declare an indefinite suspension against fighting again for a WBC title, while demanding Chisora to take an anger management medical treatment after which his suspension will be reconsidered.
Boxing has won through the years an outstanding position in the world of sports and is liked by a President as well as by a shoe shine boy; the WBC has devoted at least 35 years for safety and boxing is today a sport that had only one fatal accident in minor boxing, that has overturned the past; boxers are gentlemen and show to the world an example of honor and fair play when after a tremendous battle, they go to the center of the ring to pay respect to each other.
Derek Chisora is not going to tarnish the sport for those born in the humblest beds, who become sports heroes of the world to live a life of dignity and pride. Chisora, however, as a human being that he is, is going to be strongly invited to enter an anger management rehabilitating program that hopefully will act in his benefit.
All The Pressure On Wladimir Klitschko In Saturday’s Fight With Mormeck
By Johnny Walker
Following two straight weekends of exciting heavyweight fights, world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and French challenger Jean Marc Mormeck will try to make it a triple play when they meet this coming Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Just after the HBO network had announced that it was giving up on the heavyweights, Vitali Klitschko and Dereck Chisora (with an assist from David Haye), along with Alexander Povetkin and Marco “Captain” Huck, showed why contests featuring the big fellas can be exciting in a way that the lower weight divisions just can’t match.
Thankfully, new cable player EPIX picked up these fights and allowed interested American fans a chance to see some dramatic heavyweight action.
There is, however, widespread cynicism about the Wlad-Mormeck matchup (also on EPIX). The French challenger is short (under six feet tall), not exactly young at age 39, and has not had a distinguished run at heavyweight since moving up from the cruiserweight division in 2009.
There is a feeling out there in the boxing public that this is a throwaway title defense for the younger, stronger, larger Klitschko, though it could also be argued that Wladimir has earned an easy one after facing the best in the division for the last few years.
Resultantly, there is almost no pressure on Mormeck (36-4-0, 22 KOs) going into this fight. Everyone outside of Mormeck’s own immediate family expects him to lose, and perhaps even they are hedging their bets. If Mormeck somehow avoids ending his night lying on the canvas and staring up at the referee, he’ll have exceeded most people’s expectations.
For Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs), however, there is immense pressure this time not only to win, but to look very good while doing it. A chess match in the ring is not what is called for this time out, with even Klitschko trainer Emanuel Steward complaining about the lack of knockouts in heavyweight boxing as of late.
At today’s final press conference in Germany, Klitschko seemed to acknowledge the pressure that is on him to produce fireworks against Mormeck, and he at least tried to take some of the heat off and reduce the boxing public’s expectations of an easy win.
“I still have the hunger and I do not take this fight lightly,” Wladimir said.
“It is extremely difficult to box against a man who is a lot shorter. It does not make my job easier.
“His size makes it even more difficult for me to hit him. I will do anything to make sure to keep the belts that I have been unifying in the last years.”
All of that is fine and dandy, but none it changes the fact that anything less than a spectacular knockout win for Klitschko this Saturday night will see him answering numerous questions as to what went wrong. A unanimous decision is not going to be enough against Mormeck.
It’s time to for the cerebral Wladimir to put the chess set away, and go for broke.