Wladimir Klitschko has this Thursday morning announced his retirement from boxing which ends the speculation surrounding a rematch with Anthony Joshua.
The Ukrainian heavyweight has always been something of a love-hate figure but has possibly never received the respect and praise that he deserved.
Klitschko had a glittering amateur career which included a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta as a standout highlight. His amateur record stood at a hugely impressive 134-6 when he decided to turn professional towards the end of that year.
He went on to have the second longest period as a heavyweight champion with a reign which lasted over nine years.
Despite his undisputed dominance over the division and the apparent ease with which he dispensed most of his opponents, there have always been doubters and people looking to diminish his accomplishments.
There is an opinion out there that his dominance over the heavyweight division does not compare with other great champions due to the supposed lack of real world class opposition during his years at the top.
There is certainly some merit to that argument as we haven’t for some time seen the same explosive heavyweight talents and personalities which graced the division during the 1990s when the likes of Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis were at their peak.
That opinion does not take into account the level of discipline and professionalism that Klitschko needed to maintain during those years in order to remain so dominant.
The former champion always fought at a consistently high standard and therefore he was more than ready for the challenge the few times he was seriously challenged by ambitious fighters such as David Haye, Samuel Peter or Alexander Povetkin.
The Haye victory was particularly impressive due to the size of the build-up and the confidence that Haye and the British public came into the fight with.
Klitschko was completely dominant in the fight and used his superior reach and boxing skills leaving Haye sheepishly complaining of a broken toe at the end of the contest. The ambitious Londoner had been firmly put back in his place.
Wladimir’s blockbuster fight against Anthony Joshua will be his final fight as a professional and he appeared to gain more respect in that defeat to Joshua than he ever had during his long reign as champion.
It is quite sad that it took a heroic defeat at 40 years of age for people to appreciate the boxing skills that Klitschko quite clearly possesses.
This fight was also an obvious reminder to the boxing public of his dedication to training and fitness as he was in incredible shape for the fight and was competitive with Joshua right up until the final telling blow.
Now that Klitschko has hung up his boxing gloves, he should hopefully receive the respect that he always deserved for his impressive and dominant record as a heavyweight boxer.
He will be most remembered in some parts for his epic battle with Joshua but the history books will always remain in his favour when looking at his reign as heavyweight champion.
Kieran McCarthy, Pundit Arena