Now that his younger brother has disposed of Samuel Peter for a second time, Vitali Klitshcko believes his sibling is now equal to the consensus greatest heavyweight of all time, Muhammad Ali.
Vitali made the claim this week in an interview with Moscow Komsomolets. Vitali first praised his brother for his significant improvement over the last five years. Unlike his struggles in the 2005 fight with Peter, Wladimir did not lose a round or get hit with a significant punch. Vitali believes this is exceptional considering that Peter was his ranked #1 contender and had gone 9-2 since their first encounter.
“Peter was much better than he was five years ago, but Wladimir is also himself different from the past,” explained Vitali, who also knocked out Peter in 2008. “He was in great shape, he didn’t get tired, and he was aggressive. Wladimir was hit by almost no punches at all, he got no injuries and now he feels himself pretty well. All in all, my brother proved he was in a different league with the Nigerian. Samuel had no chance at all, at least in his pre-fight shape.”
In the opening montage, Wladimir utilizes a spliced clip that featured himself interacting with Muhammad Ali. While Vitali conceded his younger brother does not have the Hall of Fame competition that Ali faced in the 70s, he claims that skill-wise both fighters are on the same level. With his younger brother’s remaining challenges being much smaller fighters in David Haye and Tomasz Adamek, Vitali boasts that there is not a fighter out there that could give Wladimir trouble.
“There was a highlight reel of TV moments before the fight, which compared my brother with the living legend Muhammad Ali. I consider Wladimir’s achievements comparable with those of Ali,” Vitali said. “The only difference is that Wladimir hasn’t had worthy challengers to this throne. Ali had Smoking Joe Frazier, Big George Foreman and several more stalwarts, who were skillful enough to give him troubles in the ring. Wladimir hasn’t had any of these sorts in front of him. There’s no boxer in the world that can cause him major problems. But comparing their technique, their ring strategies and their dominance you can have a point that Wladimir Klitschko is on the same level with the legend.”
At press time, Wladimir Klitschko is looking to have one more fight to close out the year in December, possibly against David Tua.
I’m not irate with Vitali’s stance but I do disagree.
Like any sane person, he concedes that there are no all-time great fighters like Frazier and Foreman, or even excellent contenders like Ken Norton or Jerry Quarry to challenge his younger brother. But unlike Vitali, I don’t think you can make such a distinct separation between skills and quality of opposition when comparing his brother to arguably the greatest heavyweight in history. To me, what truly proves your skills is being able to execute them against opponents that are on your level or better.
Make no mistake, Ali definitely had some title defenses against weak competition, especially following the Thrilla in Manila. And overall, he’s faced multiple Hall of Fame fighters and a big name challenger nearly every year of his career. Klitschko doesn’t have that luxury. Beating Haye and Adamek would definitely help. But the fact he didn’t get to face Lennox Lewis, the last truly great heavyweight before the Klitschhko reign, hurts his standing. At least then fans and critics would see how he’d match up against another great fighter.
With all that said, both Klitschkos should rank very high on a head to head list. They don’t have the great fighters on their resume that someone like Rocky Marciano has, but you’d be hard-pressed to envision the 185 pound Brockton Blockbuster being able to handle the size and talent the Klitschkos possess.
The Klitschkos will always have their supporters, but the lack of strong competition and glaring KO/TKO losses will always result in question marks about them.