Wladimir Klitschko comeback: Big pros and consWritten by Leroy Cleveland
Comebacks... They are synonymous with boxing.
Since the dawn of the sport, retired champions have often contemplated a return to the ring with many, if not most, coming back in some way, shape or form.
Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, Evander Holyfield, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, George Foreman, Bernard Hopkins, Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier and the list goes on and on.
Today, 42 year old fight legend and former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is grappling with the itch to return to the ring.
"[To potentially return to the ring] it must be something extraordinary [to get me to come out of retirement].... [something] incredible. I've still got it, but I don't know for how long I'm going to remain in the same shape," Klitschko recently told Fox Sports.
Despite losing to current consensus champion Anthony Joshua last year, Wladimir Klitschko's stock rose. Not only was it one of his best performances in his career, the fight was one of the greatest in heavyweight title history.
Should Klitschko make a comeback?
Experience - As an Olympic champion with a long amateur career, Wlad, with his 69 pro fights, would still enjoy an edge in experience. He has faced more opponents and more styles than any active heavyweight today.
Punching Power - Sporting a 77 percent KO ratio, the Ukrainian is not short on power. Ask Anthony Joshua who was decked and nearly KO'd by Wlad last year. Power is the last trait an aging fighter loses and Klitschko would have it in abundance should he comeback.
Popularity/Purses - Given Klitschko is an international star and fight legend, a comeback would attract a wide audience and subsequent massive purse sums.
Legacy - Should Wlad win a world title again while in his early or mid 40s and after a long layoff, it would certainly enhance his already-strong legacy and make him a literal sports icon.
There are valid reasons Wlad should return but there are counterpoints as well.
Legacy - Unlike many boxing legends, Wladimir Klitschko will have retired on top should he never fight again. Despite being KO'd in 11 by Joshua in his final outing to date, Wlad's legacy was boosted by his memorable performance, undoubtedly one of the best of his career. Should he comeback, he runs the risk of embarrassing himself in the sunset of his career a la Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Age - Although Wlad would have an experience advantage over any heavyweight, he would have a youth disadvantage. An opponent like Wilder of Joshua, despite not having Wlad's boxing knowledge, could compensate with better agility and reflexes.
Chin - George Foreman regained the heavyweight title at 45 due in part to his freakish punching power and durability. George was slow and got hit often but could absorb the punishment.
However, as most of us know, Wlad has never been the most durable of fighters and his chinny chin chin might bedevil him against a young, explosive opponent who would likely test Wlad's reflexes - and jaw, early.
The Joshua fight - Wladimir was obsessed with winning that bout, was extremely prepared mentally and physically and had a solid game plan. In fact, it was Klitschko's swagger that was partially responsible for the buzz that fight generated.
.. But despite Wlad's level of preparation and intensity, he still lost. How would Wladimir Klitschko attain that same level of hunger and focus the second time around against a top 3 heavyweight? And what could he do differently to convince himself he could defeat Joshua, Wilder or Fury? Wlad would not only have to train with the same intensity, focus and determination he had for Joshua last year, he'd need an even better game plan... if one exists.
Should Wladimir Klitschko make a comeback? If so, which top heavyweight would he match-up best with stylistically?