By Keith Idec
Vitali Klitschko regrets the advice he gave his younger brother between the sixth and seventh rounds of his loss to Anthony Joshua.
Wladimir Klitschko came back from a fifth-round knockdown to drop Joshua in the sixth round April 29 in London. Vitali Klitschko sensed that the muscular Joshua was exhausted and instructed Wladimir Klitschko to take his time in the seventh round.
Wladimir Klitschko’s lack of aggression in that round helped Joshua start to get his wind back and set the stage for his own dramatic comeback. England’s Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) dropped Klitschko twice more in the 11th round and won their heavyweight title bout by technical knockout.
“It was a great fight – Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, great fight,” Vitali Klitschko told FightHub TV. “I’m more than sure Wladimir [had] a great performance and was ready to knock out Joshua. … I feel guilty because I told Wladimir in the corner, ‘Please, don’t be so active.’ In round number six, Wladimir sent Joshua to the floor. I expect [an athlete with] so big muscles to never recover. I was surprised Joshua recovered so fast and stopped Wladimir. If I didn’t stop [my] brother, in my opinion, Wladimir [would’ve] knocked him out in maybe round number seven.”
Wladimir Klitschko’s loss sparked the competitive fire within Vitali Klitschko to come back and avenge his younger brother’s defeat. That’s what Vitali Klitschko did the year after the late Corrie Sanders stopped Wladimir Klitschko in what was a stunning upset in March 2003.
Vitali Klitschko was an active boxer back then, considered one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world.
Now, however, the 46-year-old former WBC champion has a more important purpose as the mayor of his native Kiev, Ukraine, and cannot seriously consider a comeback. Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) hasn’t boxed since he stopped Manuel Charr in the fourth round of their September 2012 fight in Moscow.
“I have a feeling I can do it better,” Vitali Klitschko said, recalling how he felt in the aftermath of Wladimir’s loss to Joshua. “I have to fight Joshua and bring back the belts in the family. But sorry for [being] in this position I have right now. I [don’t] have a chance to come back and fight Joshua. But I have a feeling … if I go inside the ring, I’d knock him out. But I can’t do that right now.”
Now that his brother has retired, Vitali Klitschko considers Joshua boxing’s best heavyweight. He can’t help but feel, though, that Joshua got “lucky” when he came back to beat Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) before an enormous crowd of roughly 90,000 at Wembley Stadium.
“Wladimir was [for a] long time the best heavyweight in the world,” Vitali Klitschko said. “Joshua stopped him and if you mean who stopped the best one, you have automatically the best. But it was just lucky fight, lucky day for Joshua. He can improve himself in the next couple of fights. If he beats everyone in his next couple fights, Joshua will be the strongest one of the present time. If not, everyone can say it was lucky day for Joshua.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.