Is Wladimir Klitschko a true boxing legend?

Wladimir Klitschko v Bryant Jennings

With Wladimir Klitschko set to defend his World title for the 26th time on Saturday when he takes on Tyson Fury, it is worth assessing the Ukrainian's impact on boxing.

There's no doubt Klitschko has enjoyed monumental success during his boxing career after being Heavyweight Champion of the World for nine years and appearing in 27 World title fights.

Klitschko's fight with Fury, which will take place in Dusseldorf's Esprit Arena, will be his 65th professional fight and he will be defending the WBA, IBS and WBO heavyweight titles.


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Despite his impressive list of career statistics, many boxing fans do not consider Klitschko a true boxing great. The 39-year-old has a reputation of being boring and lacking in the flamboyance possessed by previous champions Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson. Even the arrogance of Floyd Mayweather Junior is more charismatic than the Ukranian's cold disposition.

Another nail in Klitschko's popularity coffin is the ability of his opposition during his rise to the top during the mid-2000's. Mike Tyson was on the brink of retirement, Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe were past their best and Britain's Lennox Lewis retired in 2004.

Without truly great opposition, Klitschko never earned the respect he deserved while dominating heavyweight boxing for the last decade and concreting his position at World Champion time and time again.

But where many struggle to take to the German-based Ukrainian, others view him as a breath of fresh air and a champion like no other before him.

The obvious differences regard Klitschko's origin, not Black and not from the United States. He doesn't possess the thuggish determination of Tyson or the likeable character of Ali. Instead Klitschko is intelligent, speaks four languages and boasts a PhD. His ring name, Dr Steel Hammer is more than deserved.

Klitschko's alternative image is too often overshadowed by his lack of personality. He is the second-longest reigning Heavyweight Champion of all time, in between Joe Louis and Larry Holmes - both of whom were also criticised for the opponents they faced.

Louis' opponents were collectively nicknamed "The Bum of the Month club." Both boxers are now recognised as legends of the sport.

Wladimir Klitschko v Bryant Jennings

Klitschko's trainer Johnathan Banks has said: "Wladimir won't be properly appreciated until after he's left the sport. Once he leaves the belts will be handed around likes Turkey's on Thanksgiving."

Whether Klitschko wins or loses on Saturday night, he should be recognised as not only one of boxing's greatest ever fighters but one of its greatest ever personalities.

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