On Saturday, November 28, heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will face the toughest challenge of his career when he defends his titles against Tyson Fury. With this fight quickly approaching, I reviewed the highlights of Klitschko’s 19-year career to try and predict how Klitschko’s legacy will be interpreted by fight fans after he retires. I originally thought he would be wrongly undervalued, but on second thought, his legacy might be viewed poorly for a good reason.
After reviewing all of Klitschko’s past fights, it’s hard to find quality opposition. The biggest names he’s defeated are Chris Byrd and David Haye. These men will not be remembered as titans of the sport. His entire career is made up of sub-par opposition. Haye and Byrd might make the Boxing Hall of Fame, but I don’t think any of his other opponents will.
To be fair, quality heavyweight opponents have been an endangered species over the last 12 years. The heavyweight division was buried in obscurity for the majority of Klitschko’s championship reign. Recently, the heavyweight division has been reborn with the likes of Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury. These boxers pose a legitimate threat to Klitschko’s dominance over the division.
Tyson Fury (24-0, 18 KOs) is a respected heavyweight. He has the size and power to push Klitschko. If Klitschko can defeat Fury in impressive fashion, then I think he has a chance of preserving his boxing legacy. I don’t think that a win against Fury assures him a spot as one of the greatest heavyweights, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
In order for Klitschko to truly secure a position as one of boxing’s all time greats, he needs to look good against Fury and then decisively beat a fighter like Wilder or Anthony, or both. We’ll see how things go against Fury.