By Adrian Warren
Wladimir Klitschko has rained punches on Alex Leapai then showered his vanquished opponent with praise after shattering his world title dream.
World heavyweight champion Klitschko stretched his 10-year winning streak to 20 fights by clinically dismantling but outclassed Australian Leapai, knocking him out in the fifth round of his quadruple title defence in Oberhausen, Germany.
The towering Ukrainian landed 147 punches to Leapai's mere 10, knocking down his much shorter challenger once in the first round and twice in the fifth.
While Leapai's trainer Noel Thornberry was adamant the first knockdown should have been ruled a slip, neither he nor Leapai were offering any excuses, instead praising Klitschko.
And the champion was generous in his praise of Leapai, who struggled to get past the champion's long and accurate jab.
"You have truly a lionheart," Klitschko said to Leapai, referring to the Australian's nickname.
"You never stopped. You were challenging, you were bold.
"You had great desire to become a champion. Not many of my opponents have that type of attitude, that type of heart.
"I think this experience is good for you.
"It was an experience also for me and I think the fans back home can be proud of you for representing the sport and yourself and your family the way you did."
Klitschko was adamant Leapai would remain competitive in the heavyweight division despite the comprehensive nature of his defeat.
"I could see with the fight tonight that he was looking for the right moment and he was looking for the right shot and I swear if one of those shots landed anywhere on my head, I wouldn't be sitting here," Klitschko said.
"He's 110 kilos of pure muscle and power, so I'm sure that Alex can defeat a lot of fighters in the heavyweight division."
Leapai 34, was adamant he would continue fighting.
"Wladimir really did his homework, he really studied and he just made it hard for me to land the right hand, he just kept moving," Leapai said.
"It's a learning experience and I've just got to get back to the gym and keep going.
"It's not the end of the Lionheart. He'll be back.
"Wladimir really did his homework."
As potential future opponents Leapai nominated former world champion Shannon Briggs, Manuel Charr and fellow Australian Lucas Browne, who won the vacant Commonwealth title in England shortly before Leapai's fight.