Wladimir Klitschko apparently still has some ring ambition left in the tank.
Klitschko, the former long-reigning heavyweight titlist who dominated the division from 2004-2015, suggested in an interview Monday that he has not completely ruled out a return to boxing, on the caveats that he can still get into “shape” and that the geopolitical alignment of his country does not drastically change anytime soon. “Dr. Steelhammer'' is currently tied up trying to defend his homeland of Ukraine against the ongoing Russian invasion.
His comment was in response to Tyson Fury’s successful heavyweight defense of his WBC title against mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte Saturday night at Wembley Stadium in London. Fury stopped Whyte in the sixth round with a right uppercut.
Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) has plenty of history with Manchester, England’s Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs), as they faced each other in a heavyweight unification bout in November 2015 in Dusseldorf. Fury sprang the upset, winning a unanimous decision to win the WBA, WBO, and IBF titles.
"I also learned that despite the war, you shouldn't forget life,” Klitschko told Bild, a German newspaper. “Sport is part of my life. I'm delighted that Tyson Fury won.
"Who knows, I don't want to promise anything big here, but if I'm in good shape and, above all, that the war in Ukraine will soon come to an end, and that our Borders exist without any invasion coming from Russia, then in the end who knows?”
Originally, Fury was obligated to partake in a rematch with Klitschko, but that fight never materialized after Fury postponed his participation multiple times, the first time citing an ankle injury, the second time claiming that he was “medically unfit.”
Klitschko, instead, would go on to fight Anthony Joshua in April 2019, losing by technical knockout in the 11th round. Later that year, Klitschko decided to retire. Meanwhile, Fury was battling mental health issues that drove him to substance abuse, weight gain, and suicidal thoughts. Fury would rehabilitate himself, however, and, after a nearly three-year layoff, he returned to boxing in 2018. He eventually regained his former perch in the heavyweight division, thanks to his trilogy with hard hitting Alabaman Deontay Wilder; while the first fight ended in a draw, the latter two saw Fury deliver definitive stoppages over Wilder.
The prospect of exacting revenge over a former foe aside, Klitschko is apparently also intrigued by the possibility of entering the record books if he is able to claim a title at his current age of 46. George Foreman holds the record for oldest heavyweight to ever claim a title in the division, having done so at the age of 45 with a one punch knockout of Michael Moorer in 1994 to win the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.
“If I'm in good shape, who knows? Maybe I'll have this dream of breaking George Foreman's record,” Klitschko said. “That motivates me to get up every day and do sports. Everyone has their own motivation.”
An obvious obstruction to a Fury-Klitschko rematch is the fact that Fury has stated repeatedly, before and after his fight with Whyte, that he intends to retire. At the same time, Fury has strongly floated a desire to participate in a hybrid bout with UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
As part of his efforts to drum up global support for Ukraine, Klitschko has stated recently that no Russian boxer should be allowed to participate in a title bout, taking express aim at the upcoming May 7 light heavyweight title bout between Russia’s Dmitry Bivol and Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez.
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