SportzNewz takes an in depth look at former WBO Heavyweight Champion of the World Wladimir Kitschko as he is set to take on Lamon Brewster this
saturday on HBO.
In reel life, Wladimir Klitschko's dream came true. He fought Lennox Lewis. The boxers teamed to film a fight scene for the remake of the movie,
"Ocean's Eleven.'' He hoped to face Lewis for real, but older brother, Vitali, got the shot when he met the heavyweight champion June 21, 2003, in Los
"I want to show that I am the best, and I want to fight the best," Wladimir said. "Just to say it is not enough. You have to beat the men who the
people believe are the best to earn the recognition as the best. That is why I wanted to fight Lewis or whoever has the belts. These are the kinds of
fighters I need to get in against. These are the fights the public wants to see me in, and I am ready for any of them. Nobody knows who the real star
of the heavyweight division is.''
Until losing his World Boxing Organization (WBO) title on a totally unexpected second-round TKO to Corrie Sanders on March 8, 2003, in Hannover,
Germany, a match with Lewis appeared to be a distinct possibility.
"It could have been me, but Vitali got the shot at Lewis first," he said. "People were surprised by the way Vitali fought Lewis, but not me.''
If Vitali's performance was surprising, then Wladimir's against Sanders was a downright shocker.
"I think that everyone present at the arena or that watched the fight on television saw perfectly what happened," Klitschko, who got decked twice in
the first and second rounds, said. "In my 12-year career, nothing like this has ever happened to me.
"Corrie had one chance to beat me, and I played right into his hands. On the one hand, it was a lucky punch. On the other hand, it was my hasty
tactics. He was able to use my mistakes against me.
"Vitali says I underestimated Sanders, but I was as prepared for that fight as any other I have had. I considered him to be as serious as any other
opponent. Sanders' punch and my desire to look impressive took a toll. I would say my weight was somewhat heavy. It is not an excuse, just an
"The loss did not bring an end to my professional career. On the contrary, now there is intrigue, which is always interesting. I am certain I will
come back and be world champion again. My biggest idols in boxing, Max Schmeling and Muhammed Ali both lost, and came back.
"I appreciate all the letters and words of support from the fans.''
In his first comeback fight, Wladimir stopped Fabio Moli (29-3 going in) just 97 seconds into the first round on Aug. 30, 2003, in Munich, Germany.
Klitschko threw a left that the outclassed Moli, a seven-time South American champion, ducked into. The punch slammed into Moli's forehead and sent
him into the ropes. "I did what I had to do in the ring,'' Klitschko said.
In his most recent outing, Klitschko scored a one-sided fourth-round TKO over Dannell Nicholson on Dec. 20, 2003, in Kiel, Germany. Klitschko
dominated from the outset, flooring Nicholson once. The affair was stopped at 1:44 of the round as Klitschko battered Nicholson on the ropes after
knocking him down seconds earlier.
"It was not easy, but he moved a lot and it is not easy to hit a moving target,'' Klitschko said. "But the important thing is it will continue for me
and Vitali next year.''
Wladimir, who got his doctorate in sports science and philosophy from The University of Kiev in January 2001, first laced up the gloves when he was a
young teenager. At the time, he says, there was no way he thought boxing would become an important facet of his life.
"I got interested in boxing when I was 14, but I never thought I would make it as an amateur or as a pro," he said. Rather, he thought he would pursue
a career in medicine. "I really wanted to be a doctor. That is what I envisioned I would do in my life. I dreamed about everything as a boy - military
man, spaceman, but being a fighter? No, never."
Klitschko, who turned 28 on March 25, still is regarded as one of the world's top heavyweights. And despite the loss to Sanders, many still feel the
good looking, intelligent and personable young man possesses the tools and the potential to become a world champion again.
"That is good to hear, but I need to prove myself all over," he said. "I am on my way.''
Klitschko won the gold medal in the super heavyweight division in the 1996 Olympic Games, becoming the first white gold medallist in the highest
weight class in 36 years. In his four Olympic bouts, he defeated Lawrence Clay-Bey of the United States, Attila Levin of Sweden, Russia's Alexei Lezin
and Tonga's Paea Wolfgramm. He concluded an outstanding amateur career with a record of 134-6.
Wladimir restored the family name and got his revenge for Vitali, by beating the slick southpaw, Chris Byrd (31-1 going in), to capture the WBO
heavyweight title on Oct. 14, 2000, in Cologne, Germany. In a much easier-than-expected outing, Klitschko notched an impressive, one-sided decision by
the scores of 120-106, 119-107 and 118-108. Byrd, who learned the hard way not to mess with the brothers, went down in the ninth and 11th and got
tagged hard in almost every round. His right eye began swelling by the fourth and closed sometime thereafter. His left eye was only half-open at
"Byrd was a very difficult boxer to fight, but I kept my cool and my emotions under control," Wladimir said. "He was fast and good. It was special to
win since Byrd beat my brother, but I do not hate or dislike Byrd. 'Revenge of the Brother' (as the matchup was billed) was a very hard name. I find
that title too brutal. One can look at two aspects. First of all it was a title fight, which I always dreamed about. Second, Byrd did not beat up my
brother badly. Vitali lost due to an injury (torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder). I think that win proved that we are not soft. I am the world
champion and I love my brother.''
In his initial title defense, Wladimir registered a scintillating second-round TKO over Derrick Jefferson (24-2, 20 KOs going in) on March 24, 2001,
in Munich, Germany - at the same venue where brother, Vitali, defeated former world champion Orlin Norris by first-round TKO two months earlier.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Jefferson had the physical dimensions seemingly to stay with Wladimir, but he got destroyed. Klitschko, showing terrific poise
and patience, dropped Jefferson twice with right hands - in the first and again in the second. The ref halted the proceedings at 2:09 of the second
"That was an important fight for me," Wladimir said. "I was hungry for it. Jefferson had a very big mouth, saying he would put me and my brother under
the earth. Well, there was no funeral.''
Wladimir retained his title a second time with a fifth-round TKO over Charles Shufford on Aug. 4, 2001, in Las Vegas. He dominated Shufford, flooring
him three times. Klitschko, content to stay outside and throw jabs and an occasional right hand, decked Shufford in the second with a straight right
that blasted the challenger off his feet and into the ropes like a crash test dummy. He went down again from a right in the third. A left hook that
traveled about 18 inches finished Shufford at 2:52 of the sixth.
"This fight was important because it was my championship debut in America," Klitschko said. "I knew a lot of people would be watching. I wanted to win
convincingly and leave a good impression. I would have liked to give the crowd a more boisterous performance, but I knew he was a very cautious
fighter and it is tough to fight a careful fighter like that and look good. So I had to fight smart and do some problem solving. My left hook was
sharp in training, so that solved my problem. Overall, I was very pleased with my performance and the result.''
In preparation for his second Vegas outing, he arrived in town two months early to acclimate himself with the summer desert heat. "It was a good idea
that I arrived when I did because the heat was terrible," he said. "The preparation itself was difficult, but I finally became perfectly adapted. I
like Las Vegas, and meeting new people. I wish I had a Ph.D. in the English language so I would be able to make more friends in Las Vegas and all the
United States, but I am doing OK.''
Klitschko was scheduled to defend against David Izon in New York Dec. 1, 2001, on HBO, but he was forced to withdraw after injuring his left shoulder
two days before Thanksgiving.
"To say the least, it was very depressing and unfortunate and the last thing that I wanted to happen,'' Klitschko said. "I was really excited and
looking forward to defending my title in New York. As I told the press there a few weeks before, that fight was going to be my way to show support to
all the people who had gone through so much since the tragedy of Sept. 11. The fact I could not fight was quite upsetting. The timing could not be
worse. I was supposed to fly to New York three days later.''
The injury occurred when the popular Klitschko got hit on the back of his left shoulder during a sparring session.
When he returned to the ring three and one-half months later, Klitschko successfully defended his WBO title a third time by registering an
eighth-round TKO over former International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight titleholder Frans Botha on March 16, 2002, in Stuttgart, Germany.
The one-sided affair was stopped 48 seconds into the eighth round by the referee shortly after Klitschko recorded the bout's lone knockdown, flooring
the game but ineffective Botha with a left hook. Klitschko won every round in his first start in nine months.
"It took me a while to shake off the ring rust, but once I got going, I felt great," said Klitschko after he sent a sellout crowd of 11,000 home
happy. "By the fifth round I was able to establish and then dominate with my jab, and get into a good rhythm. I knew then it was a matter of time. I
was surprised Botha lasted as long as he did. I hit him with a lot of hard punches and he took a lot of punishment.
"I expected Botha to come out strong and try to land a lucky punch and that is what he did. He kept trying to land a haymaker on me all night. That is
why I knew it was important for me to keep my poise and be patient and not take any unnecessary chances at the beginning. Still, coming off a long
layoff and an injury made it tough. But, overall, I am very happy with the result and my performance.''
At the finish, Botha had two swollen eyes and his face was puffy. "I have never been in better shape or boxed this well, but Wladimir is a great
fighter,'' Botha said.
Klitschko became the first boxer to stop Ray Mercer when he recorded an impressive sixth-round TKO over the former Marine in his most recent start on
June 29 in Atlantic City on HBO.
Sharp and dominant from the outset, Klitschko knocked down Mercer in the first, landed countless brutal shots with both hands throughout, and had his
eyes cut and swollen by the time the referee halted the one-sided proceedings at the 1:08 mark of the sixth round.
"I enjoyed the fight very much,'' said Klitschko, who landed 104 of 167 power shots, including a left hook to the head that put Mercer down with 30
seconds remaining in the opening round. "I never saw anybody quite like him. I have a lot of respect for Mercer. He has the strongest chin in the
Klitschko successfully defended his title a fifth and final time with a 10th-round TKO over Jameel McCline on Dec. 17, 2002, in Las Vegas. Dominant
from the outset, Klitschko dropped the reluctant McCline late in the ninth round. The challenger did not come out for the 10th.
Klitschko turned pro at age 20 on Nov. 16, 1996, and scored a first-round TKO over Fabian Meza in Hamburg, Germany. He went 2-0 that year, and 13-0
the next. In his 1998 debut, Wladimir captured the WBC International heavyweight title by knocking out Marcus McIntyre (15-1 going in) in the second
round on Feb. 14. His 17-fight knockout streak ended the following March 14 when he was taken the distance by Everett "Big Foot" Martin in an
He won his next six by knockout. Two came in WBC International title defenses, another in his United States debut against Carlos "The Shock Absorber"
Monroe on Aug. 6, 1998, in Marksville, La.
Klitschko's 24-fight winning streak ended when he lost on an 11th-round TKO to veteran Ross Puritty (23-13-1 going in) on Dec. 15, 1998, in his first
appearance as a pro in his hometown of Kiev, Ukraine. It was a lack of stamina more than anything Puritty did that cost Wladimir, who had never gone
past eight rounds, was comfortably ahead on the scorecards, but who literally collapsed from exhaustion. He went down twice in the 10th - only one was
ruled a knockdown - and stopped at 0:18 of the 11th.
"This fight, even though I lost, made me stronger," he said. "I feel that I won because I learned so much. I did a lot of promotion for the fight. I
wanted it to be perfect for my hometown audience. But I did not have the proper focus or concentration. I did not prepare mentally and physically the
way I should have and ran out of gas. I was only 22. I was arrogant and paid the price. But it was a positive experience.
"It made me an overall better fighter. I was having it go my way for so long. I felt invincible. I felt I was the best and nothing could happen to me.
But boxers must lose sometimes and I simply learned a hard lesson about what it takes to be a pro. You must train hard, not only in the ring but in
the gym every day."
Said trainer Fritz Sdunek: "Like Vitali, Wladimir started in the pros with an incredibly high tempo and thought that everything would go very fast.
Then came the defeat with Wladimir against Puritty in Kiev. Since then, they have worked a lot better. They trust me more and everything has gone
After the loss, Klitschko won 15 in a row, all but one - the bout with Byrd -- by knockout. Along the way, he won the WBA Continental heavyweight
title with a fifth-round TKO over Joseph Chingangu on July 17, 1999, in Dusseldorf, Germany. The following Sept. 26, he captured the vacant European
title with an eighth-round TKO over two-time world challenger Axel Schulz in Cologne, Germany. In front of 18,000 fans and 11 million TV viewers,
Klitschko dominated. He knocked down Schulz twice in the eighth and the bout was terminated at 2:43. The German had never been stopped before and had
been competitive with George Foreman, Botha and Michael Moorer. But in this one, Schultz took a beating from the opening bell.
Klitschko made his second U.S. start on Nov. 12, 1999, and starched Phil Jackson in two rounds in Las Vegas. His finishing thuds against Jackson
nearly dropped ringsiders.
After retaining his European crown with a second-round TKO over Lajos Eros on Dec. 4, 1999, in Hannover, Germany, Klitschko overwhelmed Olympic rival
out Paea Wolfgramm (18-1 going in) to win the WBC International title on March 18, 2000. Landing almost every punch he threw, Wladimir bloodied
Wolfgramm and knocked him down, and he was counted out on all fours at 1:30 of the first round. Klitschko won the gold in 1996 Olympics by outpointing
Wolfgramm on a 7-3 decision in the final.
Klitschko retained his WBA Continental crown with a second-round TKO over David Bostice (32-1-1 going in) on April 29, 2000, in New York. Wladimir
scored two knockdowns in the first and two more in the second. After the final knockdown, the fight was stopped at 1:27. Klitschko recorded a
seventh-round TKO over Monte Barrett the following July 15 in London. Barrett went down once in the first and fourth and three times in the seventh
before the bout was stopped at 2:42. In his next start, he dethroned Byrd.
One of Klitschko's earliest boxing memories came on the eve of his first amateur bout.
"I was 14 and I remember we drove away to a tournament in Kazakhstan," he said. "About 40 boxers were there. I waited for my first fight. And then I
waited some more. Finally, I began to wonder, what happened? So I asked a tournament official, where is my opponent? He said, 'You win. You do not
have an opponent. Only you are here in heavyweight division.' I could not believe it. I win my first championship and I do not have an opponent. Then,
I had my first amateur fight and lost. After that I knew I had to win everything that I could.''
Klitschko's hobbies include golfing, snowboarding, kite surfing, surfing the internet, watching action movies ("Matrix," "Terminator," "The Mummy"),
playing soccer, listening to music (rock, pop) and, like his brother, Vitali, is a serious chess player.
Wladimir once played a game of chess against world champion Garry Kasparov. "That was a mismatch," he said. "The game was over so fast. Garry went
from table to table and played a lot of people at the same time, including against Vitali and myself. It was a great experience.
Regarding his personal beliefs, Wladimir is confident and philosophical. "I believe in God and in myself," he said. "During the Soviet era people
didn't have much chance to practice religion. Life without belief is meaningless. To me it does not matter if you are Buddhist, Jew, Muslim or
Christian, or whatever you put your faith in, a man needs to have beliefs, hopes, dreams. Still, unlike some other boxers - and I don't want to
mention any names - I do not make an issue out of religion nor do I feel the need to preach it, or mention my faith in every sentence. My personal
beliefs belong to my inner world.
"The people I admire most are those who have good, strong character. The ones with a will and a wish.''
BEFORE THE BELL - A GLIMPSE OF WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
STYLE: A huge, powerful, intimidating guy with great natural ability and tremendous punching power possesses a rare mixture of size, speed and power
.... Until falling to Sanders, he seemingly had been improving with every start while becoming one of boxing's biggest attractions.
STRENGTHS: Confidence: He is willing to fight anybody .... Punching power: Twenty-three of his last 24 victories have come by knockout, including all
four of his successful title defenses .... Personality: He is clearly a people's person who loves to meet fans .... Quickness and mobility: He looked
anything but bad or clumsy and was able to counter the speed of the slippery Byrd which, as most any heavyweight can attest, is difficult to do ....
Agility .... Jab .... Amateur experience: Besides winning the gold medal in '96 Olympics, he also won silver medals at the 1996 European Championships
and the 1994 Junior World Championships .... Discipline ... Smarts.
QUESTION MARKS: Can he bounce all the way back? .... Is he too big and strong for this guy? .... What happened against Sanders? .... Did he enter the
ring too overconfident? .... Can he still become the next great heavyweight? .... Did he prove anything against Moli? .... Will new co-trainer Emanuel
Steward make an immediate difference?
Alias: Steelhammer / Dr.
Hometown: Hamburg, Germany
Birthplace: Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan
World Rank: 1
Date of Birth: 1976-03-25
Height: 6' 7
Trainer: Fritz Sdunek / Emanuel Stewart
Manager: Klaus-Peter Kohl
Wladimir Klitschko Career Record
42 Wins, 2 Loss, 39 Knockouts
12-20 -- Danell Nicholson, Kiel, Germany, TKO 4
08-30 -- Fabio Moli, Munich, Germany, KO 1
03-08 -- Corrie Sanders, Hannover, Germany, TKO by 2
(Lost WBO Heavyweight Title)
12-07 -- Jameel McCline, Las Vegas, NV, W TKO 10
(Retained WBO Heavyweight Title)
06-29 -- Ray Mercer, Atlantic City, NJ, W TKO 6
(Retained WBO Heavyweight Title)
03-16 -- Francois Botha, Stuttgart, Germany, W TKO 8
(Retained WBO Heavyweight Title)
08-04 -- Charles Shufford, Las Vegas, NV, W TKO 6
(Retained WBO Heavyweight Title)
03-24 -- Derrick Jefferson, Munich, Germany, W TKO 2
(Retained WBO Heavyweight Title)
10-14 -- Chris Byrd, Cologne, Germany, W 12
(Won WBO Heavyweight Title)
07-15 -- Monte Barrett, London, England, W TKO 7
04-29 -- David Bostice, New York, NY, W TKO 2
03-18 -- Paea Wolfgramm, Hamburg, Germany, W KO 1
12-04 -- Lajos Erös, Hannover, Germany, W KO 2
11-12 -- Phil Jackson, Las Vegas, NV, W KO 2
09-25 -- Axel Schulz, Cologne, Germany, W TKO 8
07-17 -- Joseph Chingangu, Dusseldorf, Germany, W TKO 5
05-22 -- Tony LaRosa, Budapest, Hungary, W TKO 1
04-24 -- Everett (Bigfoot) Martin, Munich, Germany, W TKO 8
02-13 -- Zoran Vujecic, Stuttgart, Germany, W KO 1
12-05 -- Ross Puritty, Kiev, Ukraine, L TKO 11
11-14 -- Donnell Wingfield, Munich, Germany, W KO 1
10-03 -- Eli Dixon, Augsburg, Germany, W KO 3
09-19 -- Steve Pannell, Oberhausen, Germany, W KO 2
08-06 -- Carlos Monroe, Marksville, LA, W TKO 6
07-10 -- Najee Shaheed, Munich, Germany, W KO 1
05-23 -- Cody Koch, Offenburg, Germany, W KO 4
03-14 -- Everett Martin, Hamburg, Germany, W 8
02-14 -- Marcos McIntyre, Stuttgart, Germany, W KO 3
12-20 -- Derrick Lampkins, Offenburg, Germany, W TKO 1
12-13 -- Ladislav Husarik, Hamburg, Germany, W TKO 3
12-06 -- Jerry Halstead, Offenbach, Germany, W TKO 2
10-11 -- Marcos Gonzalez, Cottbus, Germany, W KO 2
09-20 -- James Pritchard, Aachen, Germany, W TKO 3
08-23 -- Biko Botowamungo, Stuttgart, Germany, W TKO 5
07-12 -- Gilberto Williamson, Hagen, Germany, W TKO 3
06-27 -- Salvador Maciel, Offenburg, Germany, W KO 1
06-13 -- Paul Ashley, Oberhausen, Germany, W KO 2
05-10 -- Mark Wills, Frankfurt, Germany, W KO 1
04-12 -- Mark Young, Aachen, Germany, W TKO 2
02-15 -- Carlos Monroe, Cottbus, Germany, W DQ 6
01-25 -- Troy Weida, Stuttgart, Germany, W TKO 3
12-21 -- Bill Corrigan, Frankfurt, Germany, W TKO 1
11-30 -- Exum Speight, Wiener Neustadt, Austria, W TKO 2
11-16 -- Fabian Meza, Hamburg, Germany, W KO 1
former WBC International Heavyweight Champion
2-Time and Current WBA International Heavyweight Champion
former European Heavyweight Champion
former WBO World Heavyweight Champion
1996 Super Heavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist
[Edited on 18-7-2004 by Ocelot]