Champion's 13 prosperous years
More than 13 years after winning his first noteworthy belt, Wladimir Klitschko went out to defend four “world” titles on Saturday night.
The 38-year-old Ukrainian put his IBF, WBO, WBA “super” and IBO heavyweight belts on the line in a fight against Alex Leapai in Oberhausen, Germany.
He also took a professional record of 61 victories, including 51 inside the distance, and only three defeats into the ring, as well as significant advantages in height, reach and experience.
Leapai, 34, is an Australian citizen but was born in Samoa. He compiled a record of 30-4-3, with 24 knockouts, since his professional debut in July 2000 and before getting a shot at Klitschko's belts.
Klitschko, who has an Olympic Games gold medal among his trophies, was widely topped to retain his titles without much trouble. Leapai was, after all, not in the top ten on the WBC, WBA and IBF rankings lists. But somehow he was at No 1 on the WBO list.
Some analysts regard Klitschko as an excellent tactician. Others say he has a glass jaw and has beaten mostly inferior opponents. He has been stopped three times.
He is not, by far, the most exciting champion in the world. He tends to rely on his jab and reach which have enabled him to remain undefeated since losing in five rounds to Lamon Brewster in April 2004.
Leapai had fought almost exclusively in Australia, and against ordinary opposition. He probably had a points victory over ten rounds against previously unbeaten Denis Boystov to thank for his No 1 spot on the WBO list. That fight in November last year also gave him the WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title.
Before the weekend, he had won 64.86 per cent of his fights inside the distance and was said to have at least a puncher’s chance. But he’ll knew he would find it hard to get anywhere near against Klitschko, who had a 16cm reach advantage and a solid jab.
South African Deon Dwarte was one of the judges, along with Glen Feldmen and Zoltan Enyedi. The referee was Eddie Cotton.
On the undercard, 22-year-old New Zealand heavyweight champion Joseph Parker was slated to take on a late replacement, 33-year-old Marcelo Luiz Nascimento. Parker, who had knocked out South African Fransie Botha in the second round in June last year, had a record of 7-0, including 6 knockouts. His Brazilian opponent stood at 17-5; 15.