Ring Magazine, IBF, IBO and WBO king “Dr. Steelhammer” Wladimir Klitschko successfully defended his crowns and earned the 50th knockout of his professional career Saturday afternoon in the fourth round against French challenger Jean-Marc Mormeck at the Espirit Arena in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Despite competing in a division that is utterly devoid of talent, Klitschko’s historical prowess in the squared circle cannot be overlooked.
“Dr. Steelhammer” further elevated his lofty status this weekend and he now must be considered one of the preeminent heavyweight champions to throw fists over the course of the past quarter-century.
Below are the five most accomplished heavyweights to enter the ring since 1987.
1) Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32 wins by KO) – Lewis, 46, became the WBC heavyweight champion by default in 1993 after Riddick Bowe cowered and refused to scrap the mammoth Brit.
Bowe’s pink decision made Lewis the first and only world heavyweight titleholder to hail from Britain in the 20th century.
In September 1994 in London, Lewis lost to a journeyman dope fiend named Oliver McCall via TKO in the second round.
In April 2001 in South Africa, Lewis was defeated by Baltimore bruiser Hasim Rahman via knockout in the fifth round.
The only two losses that Lewis suffered in his professional career stemmed from two flailing bombs that miraculously landed directly on the Brit’s kisser.
Lewis avenged both of his losses and retired as champion in 2003.
The United Kingdom’s resident badass is one of four boxers in history to have won the heavyweight championship on three separate occasions.
“Lewis wasn’t my favorite,” said Brad Sherwood, 31, a resident of South Boston who is employed as a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Medford. “He was pretty much boring. But, he beat everyone that beat him and he left the sport on top. That’s all you need to know.”
2) Evander Holyfield (44-10-2-1, 29 wins by KO) – Holyfield, 49, began his professional career as a cruiserweight.
However, after having had great success in that division, the Atlanta native purposely gained weight and set his sights on the heavyweight division.
In October 1990, “The Real Deal” countered a looping uppercut and cracked James “Buster” Douglas squarely on the jaw.
The portly pugilist was unable to get off the canvas and Holyfield became the new undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Holyfield’s crowning moment in the ring came when he bullied Mike Tyson and TKO’d the notorious villain in the 11th round to capture the WBA Heavyweight Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Seven months later, Holyfield was scheduled to fight Tyson in a rematch for the WBA Championship.
In the rematch, Holyfield incited the menacing Tyson when he connected an inadvertent head butt that opened a deep laceration over the former champion’s eye.
Tyson subsequently went insane and ferociously chomped pieces of Holyfield’s ears off with two illegal bites.
Holyfield has somewhat tarnished his legacy because he has insisted on continuing to fight despite the fact that he is more spent than a 65-year-old prostitute.
Nevertheless, Holyfield is the only boxer to ever win the heavyweight title four times and he deserves to be recognized as one of the absolute greatest pugilists of the past quarter century.
3) Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 wins by knockout) – Tyson, 45, had one of the most ferocious and intimidating presences in the annals of professional sports.
Before he receded into a cannibalistic, convicted rapist, Tyson was also one of the most skilled prizefighters the sport of boxing had ever seen.
“Kid Dynamite” became the youngest heavyweight champion in history when he demolished Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight championship in November 1986.
Tyson steamrolled the competition for years before his personal demons derailed his seemingly inevitable path to immortality.
Tyson can be considered something of a Shakespearean tragedy.
However, the Brooklyn brawler also needs to be recognized as one of the most talented fighters in the illustrious history of boxing.
4) Wladimir Klitschko (57-3, 50 wins by knockout) – Klitschko, 35, outmanned WBO Heavyweight Champion Sultan Ibragimov at Madison Square Garden in New York City in February 2008 to unify the IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.
With his demolition of Ibragimov, “Dr. Steel Hammer” became the first unified champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Klitschko, who has emerged victorious in 15 consecutive prizefights and lost only a handful of rounds since he lost to Lamon Brewster by a fifth round TKO in April 2004, utterly battered and continuously floored the overmatched Mormeck (36-5, 22 KOs).
“I dominated. I’ve been around for 15 years and now I have the 50th (KO),” said Klitschko, 35, who won a Gold medal as a super heavyweight at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. “It’s a big day for me (http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/7642591/wladimir-klitschko-stops-jean-marc-mormeck-easily-retain-heavyweight-titles).”
Mike Cappiello, who earned the New England super featherweight title in 1990 and finished his professional career with an impressive record of 33-6, believed the 39-year-old Mormeck could knock the seemingly indomitable Ukrainian onto Queer Street.
“Wladimir Klitschko can be beat,” said Cappiello, the owner of Cappiello Brothers Boxing in Brockton (Mass). “He is always on the outside not wanting to be hit because he knows his chin isn’t the greatest.”
There is not a heavyweight boxer on the planet Earth that can compete with the indomitable Ukrainian legend.
Hence, “Dr. Steelhammer,” who has now managed to defend his titles on 11 straight occasions, is going to need to compete with himself and create goals for motivation purposes.
The truly iconic Joe Louis triumphantly safeguarded his belts for 25 straight challenges.
Wladimir Klitschko has a legitimate opportunity to snap Louis’ longstanding record.
“Dr. Steelhammer” has dominated the sport since George W. Bush’s first term and he will inevitably continue to maim the entire heavyweight landscape well into the foreseeable future.
5) Vitali Klitschko (44-2, 38 wins by knockout) – WBC heavyweight titlist “Dr. Iron Fist” Vitali Klitschko earned an easy unanimous decision victory over 9-1 underdog Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora February 18 to successfully retain his belt at Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany.
Klitschko (44-2, 38 KOs), 40, who has never been floored in a prizefight, or involved in one that he wasn’t winning at the end on the scorecards, has emerged victorious in 12 consecutive bouts and hasn’t been trumped since June 2003.
“Dr. Iron Fist,” who has now managed to defend his title on ten straight occasions since capturing it from Corrie Sanders in 2004, owns the second greatest knockout-to-fight ratio (87.76%) of any champion in heavyweight history after the immortal Rocky Marciano.
Roger “Pit” Perron is a venerable boxing trainer from Brockton (Mass.) who now works with Mike and Rich Cappiello at their gym, Cappiello Brothers Boxing and Training.
“Chisora was in over his head against Klitschko,” said Perron, 75, who worked with International Boxing Hall of Famer Marvelous Marvin Hagler. “He can’t mess with that monster. Nobody in the game today can handle either Klitschko.”