August 19, 2017
August 19, 2017
Valeria Witters/Witters Sport/USA Today Sports

Wladimir Klitschko

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FORMER long-reigning heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko retired recently from boxing after an incredible 27-year career as a fighter.

Here we take a photographic journey through his time as a professional, from the early days as a European champion, taking in some early stoppage defeats before going on to rule the big men with an iron fist.

Below, in 1999 Klitschko won the EBU title by a knocking out Germany’s Axel Schulz in round eighteen Cologne.

German boxer Axel Schulz (R) is punched by Wladimir Klitschko (L) of Ukraine during his heavyweight European Champion title of the EBU September 25. Klitschko won the EBU champion title by a knock-out in round eight. INA/WS

23-year-old Klitschko’s Las Vegas debut saw him knock out experienced former title challenger Phil Jackson in two rounds.

Boxing - Momentum Enterprises Show 12/11/99 The Orleans Hotel Las Vegas  Mandatory Credit : Action Images / Alex Morton  Wlasmir Klitschko (lt) bt Phil Jackson (rt)

Another second-round knockout, this time Lajos Eros was on the receiving end in Hannover.

Wladimir Klitschko (R) of the Ukraine returns a punch to Eros Lajos of Hungary during their European championship heavyweight fight in the EMU association in Hanover December 5. Klitscko won the fight in the second round after Lajos gave up. PEM

In a rematch of the 1996 Super-heavyweight Olympic final won by Klitschko, he destroyed Tonga’s Paea Wolframm in a solitary round.

VladimirKlitschko (R) from the Ukraine tries to land a punch on Paea Wolfgramm from Tonga during their World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship fight in Hamburg March 18. Klitschko knocked out Wolfgramm after one and a half minutes. PEM

Klitschko works out with a heavy bag at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas.

WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko works out with a heavy bag at Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada July 31, 2001. Klitscho (36-1), originally from Kiev, Ukraine but living in Hamburg, Germany; defends his title against Charles Shufford (16-1) of Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas August 4. SM/SV

In 2000 at the London Arena Klitschko stops Monte Barrett in seven rounds,

Boxing - Vladimir Klitschko Bt Monte Barrett -  "The Homecoming" - London Arena - Heavyweight Contest - 15/7/00  Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Richard Heathcote Vladimir Klitschko  (Lt) connects with a  punch during the bout which Vladimir Klitschko wins on a 7th Round Technical Knockout

Chris Byrd was coming off a injury stoppage victory of Klitschko’s big brother, Vitali, when he became the victim of 24-year-old Wladimir’s first world title victory (WBO). He lasted the distance but was down in the 9th and 11th rounds.

Vladimir Klitschko of Ukraine (R) strikes WBO Heavy-Weight World Champion Chris Byrd of the U.S.A. during their fight in Cologne late October 14, 2000. Klitschko won on points after twelve rounds. JS/WS

Klitschko defended his WBO title in Las Vegas with sixth-round stoppage Charles Shufford. The American was down three times.

WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (L) of Kiev, Ukraine connects on Charles Shufford of Las Vegas, Nevada, during the fifth round of their title fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center August 4, 2001, in Las Vegas. Klitschko retained his title with a sixth round knockout. It was the second title defense for Klitschko, now 37-1, who fights out of Hamburg, Germany. SM/RCS

Back to Germany in 2002 for an eight-round stoppage of rugged South African Frans Botha.

Wladimir Klitschko of the Ukraine (R) lands the first punch of a series of hard hits to Frans Botha of South Africa during the eighth and final round of their boxing WBO World Championship heavyweight fight in Stuttgart March 16, 2002. Klitschko retained his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) heavyweight title by stopping Botha in the eighth round of their scheduled 12-round bout on Saturday. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach KP/CLH/

Klitschko on the speed bag during a training session in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 2002.

German Boxer Wladimir Klitschko trains on the speed bag during a training session in Atlantic City New Jersey, June 18, 2002. Klitschko, the WBO Heavyweight champion, will fight Ray Mercer at the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City on June 29. PHOTO TAKEN JUNE 18 REUTERS/Teddy Blackburn MS

Klitschko retained his title in six rounds against 41-year-old former champion Ray Mercer.

Wladimir Klitschko (R) lands a right to a bloody Ray Mercer during the sixth round of their WBO Heavyweight title fight in Atlantic City, New Jersey, June 29, 2002. Klitschko won the fight and retained his title on a technical knockout later in the round after referee Randy Neumann stopped the fight. REUTERS/Mike Segar MS/SV

WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on the heavy bag during a session in Las Vegas in 2002.

WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko works out with a heavy bag during a training session in Las Vegas, Nevada December 3, 2002. Klitschko, originally from Kiev, Ukraine but now living in Hamburg, Germany, defends his title against Jameel McCline of Port Jefferson, New York at the Mandalay bay Events Center December 7. Klitschko has a record of 39-1, McCline is 28-2-3. REUTERS/Steve Marcus SM

Back in Vegas for his third fight of 2002 and a tenth-round retirement of Jameel McCline.

Jameel McCline (L) of Port Jefferson, New York is hit with a body shot by WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in the third round of their title fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada December 7, 2002. Klitschko, originally of Kiev, Ukraine but now living in Hamburg, Germany, retained his title when McCline's corner stopped the fight just before the 11th round. REUTERS/ Steve Marcus SM/ME

Klitschko is sensationally dispatched in two rounds by South Africa’s big-punching southpaw Corrie Sanders in Hannover. Wladimir lost his crown with his second inside-the-distance defeat.

Corrie Sanders of South Africa (L) lands a punch on Wladimir Klitschko in the first round of their WBO heavyweight championfight at the Preussag Arena in Hanover on March 8, 2003. Sanders beat Klitschko, originally of Kiev, Ukraine but now living in Hamburg, Germany, with a knock-out in the second round. REUTERS/Christian Charisius CHA

Klitschko at the La Brea Boxing Club in Los Angeles in 2003.

Heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko works out at the La Brea Boxing Club in Los Angeles November 19, 2003. Klitschko is scheduled to fight a boxer to be determined on December 20 in Kiel, Germany. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith RG

His first fight after the Sanders upset saw Klitschko walk through Argentina’s Fabio Eduardo Moli in one round in Munich.

ARGENTINA'S MOLI KNEELS AFTER HE WAS KNOCKED OUT BY UKRAINIAN HEAVYWEIGHT BOXER VLADIMIR KLITSCHKO IN A WBA INTERNATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT IN MUNICH.

The Klitschko brothers in Los Angeles in 2003.

Heavyweight boxer and brothers Wladimir (L) and Vitali Klitschko pose for a photograph at the La Brea Boxing Club during a news conference in Los Angeles November 19, 2003. Vitali, is 32-2 and will be facing Kirk Johnson in a 12-round bout on December 6 in New York. It will be his first fight since losing to Lennox Lewis. Wladimir, 41-2, will fight an unnamed opponent on December 20 in Kiel, GermanyREUTERS/Robert Galbraith RG

Chicago’s Danell Nicholson lasted four rounds in Kiel in December of 2003.

UKRAINIAN HEAVYWEIGHT BOXER KLITSCHKO LANDS A PUNCH ON NICHOLSON OF THE U.S. DURING WBA INTERNATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT FIGHT IN KIEL.  Ukrainian heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko (R) lands a punch on Danell Nicholson of the U.S. during their WBA international heavyweight championship fight in Kiel December 20, 2003. Klitschko won on a technical knockout when British referee Coyle stopped the bout in the fourth round. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

Fighting his vacant old WBO title, Klitschko dramatically unfolds in five rounds against Lamon Brewster in Las Vegas. Wlad’s third stoppage loss and as a result he was being written off by some.

Wladimir Klitschko Lamon Brewster

Klitschko was back in the ring less than six months after the Brewster loss to defeat DaVarryl Williamson by technical decision after five rounds. Wlad was again on the floor and the fight went to the cards after he was cut from an accidental head butt. “It was not an easy fight,” Klitschko said afterwards.

DaVarryl Williamson (L) of Denver, Colorado, takes a hit from Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine, during the third round of their heavyweight fight at Caesars Palace hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2, 2004. Klitschko was later cut on the forehead by an accidental head butt and the fight was stopped after the fifth round. Klitschko won by spilt decision. REUTERS/Steve Marcus  SM

In his first outing of 2005 Klitschko stopped previously unbeaten Cuban Eliseo Castillo in the fourth round in Dortmund.

Former Ukrainian WBO heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko delivers punch to Cuba's Eliseo Castillo in Dortmund.  Former Ukrainian WBO heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko (L) delivers a punch to exiled Cuban Eliseo Castillo in Dortmund, Germany April 23, 2005. REUTERS/Alex Grimm

 

Klitschko now 30 picked up the IBF crown when thrashed 35-year-old former opponent Chris Byrd in seven in Mannheim.

Wladimir-Klitschko-Chris-Byrd

 

He was due to defend against Shannon Briggs, but when that fell through he made the first defence of his IBF title at New York’s Madison Square Garden with a seventh-round stoppage of North Carolina’s Sydney Olympian Calvin Brock.

Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine scores technical knockout over Calvin Brock of US in New York

 

In 2007 Wladimir Klitschko reversed one of the most painful losses of his career with a sixth-round defeat of Lamon Brewster in Cologne. “He took quite a beating,” said 31-yeard-old Klitschko. “I was surprised they gave in but today I knew I would not lose.”

wladimir klitschko

 

Klitschko saw off former champ Hasim Rahman as he defended his WBO and IBF titles in Mannheim in 2008. “He fought a very smart, intelligent fight,” said Klitschko’s trainer, the legendary Emanuel Steward.

Wladimir Klitschko Hasim Rahman

 

A sellout crowd of 61,000 at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen in 2009 saw Klitschko dominate Uzbekistan’s former WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev after nine rounds. Chagaev was on the canvas in the second.

Wladimir Klitschko Ruslan Chagaev

 

Klitschko successfully defended his titles with a twelfth-round knockout of ‘Fast’ Eddie Chambers in Düsseldorf. “When I was able to get past his jab, I couldn’t land any combinations. He worked well with his jab,” Chambers said later behind dark glasses.

Wladimir Klitschko Eddie Chambers

 

Always in his corner, Klitschko had his brother on hand for advice when necessary.

Wladimir Klitschko Vitali

 

Wladimir Klitschko and his Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward.

Wladimir Klitschko & David Haye Media Work-Outs

 

Five years after he was knocked down three times in a tough victory over Samuel Peter, the IBF and WBO champion battered and bloodied the Nigerian challenger before finally stopping him in the 10th round of another dominating performance in 2010 in Frankfurt.

Wladimir Klitschko Sam Peter

 

In arguably his defining fight, Klitschko scored a one-sided twelve round unanimous decision over cautious WBA champion David Haye in Hamburg in 2011. “He was very cautious”, said Klitschko afterward. “He was very difficult to hit. I really didn’t get challenged in the ring offensively. Instead he was like all of them, like all of my recent opponents. I would have loved to have celebrated my 50th knockout.” Haye later blamed the defeat on his injured toe.

Wladimir Klitschko v David Haye IBF, WBO, IBO & WBA Heavyweight Title's

 

Klitschko celebrated victory over Haye with his trainer Emmanuel Steward.

Wladimir Klitschko v David Haye IBF, WBO, IBO & WBA Heavyweight Title's

 

Now 35 years old, Klitschko defended all his titles in Düsseldorf with a fourth-round stoppage of former cruiserweight Jean Marc Mormeck.

Wladimir Klitschko Jean Marc Mormeck

 

Klitschko knocked out Tony Thompson again in July 2012 in the sixth-round in Berne, Switzerland.

Heavyweight World Championship Fight Klitschko vs Thompson_Bern_Switzerland_2012_July

 

Poland’s Mariusz Wach took a massive amount of punishment in Hamburg in 2012, but amazingly made it to the final bell to lose widely and unanimously to Klitschko.

Wladimir Klitschko Mariusz Wach

37-year-old Klitschko improved to 60-3 after his 52nd knockout of Francisco Pianeta in six rounds in Mannheim. “My brother was very strong,” Vitali Klitschko said. “Francesco has a big heart. You have to pay him respect.”

Wladimir Klitschko Francisco Pianeta

Klitschko dominated Alexander Povetkin in Moscow for his 22nd career win in a world heavyweight title fight, tying him with Muhammad Ali for second place. Povetkin was down in the second and seventh but lasted the distance. The loser said: “He’s the best in the world, that’s clear.”

Wladimir Klitschko Alexander Povetkin

An overmatched Alex Leapai was easily dealt with in Oberhausen in 2014. The challenger was down in the first and twice in the fifth.

Wladimir Klitschko

Now 38 years old. Klitschko knocked out Kubrat Pulev in five rounds in Hamburg in 2014. Pulev then said: “Wladimir is a really good opponent, but he was lucky. I want a rematch. I’ll win the next time.”

Wladimir Klitschko

In the final victory of his incredible career, Klitschko settled for a decision victory in New York against Bryant Jennings. Klitschko was docked a point in the tenth for holding.

Wladimir Klitschko Bryant Jennings

In 2015, Tyson Fury bamboozled Klitschko as he dethroned the long-reigning 39-year-old heavyweight champion in Düsseldorf. It was Klitschko’s (the second longest-reigning heavyweight champion of all-time) only decision defeat.

Wladimir Klitschko v Tyson Fury WBA, IBF & WBO Heavyweight Title's

Klitschko, bloodied and bruised, had boxed poorly.

Wladimir Klitschko v Tyson Fury WBA, IBF & WBO Heavyweight Title's

Klitschko with his trainer Johnathon Banks during his public workout ahead of his challenge for Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight crown.

Wladimir Klitschko with his trainer Johnathon Banks during his public workout

41-year-old Klitschko, in sensational condition, weighs in before the Joshua contest.

Wladimir Klitschko during the weigh-in

Wladimir Klitschko before the fight.

Wladimir Klitschko before the fight

Klitschko floored Joshua with a thunderous right hand in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Wladimir Klitschko knocks down Anthony Joshua

But the younger man was too strong and too fresh for Klitschko.

Anthony Joshua in action with Wladimir Klitschko

In defeat, Klitschko earned the respect of the fans with his heroic effort. It was to be a bittersweet ending to Wladimir’s glorious career.

Wladimir Klitschko speaks to the fans after the fight

Watch Wladimir Klitschko’s greatest hits