WBC heavyweight king, Vitali Klitschko improved his world record knockout ratio this weekend with his first round stoppage of previously undefeated Odlanier Solis. The 39-year-old Klitschko has now triumphed in 42 fights. An astounding 39 of those victories have come by way of a ten-count or technical knockout. Vitali has scarcely lost a round in half a decade. Still, Americans continue to yawn at the knockout artist who is also a politician in the Ukraine.
For those, however, intrigued by boxing history, Klitschko's superiority has to make us reassess the career of Lennox Lewis. Lewis, of course, retired after stopping Klitschko on cuts in 6th round of their 2003 contest. George Foreman once told me that Klitschko's wound was the worst he had ever seen in boxing. The Ukrainian was ahead on points at the moment the bout was halted but Lewis was clearly gaining momentum. While it is a pity that there was no rematch, the ending affirms that Lewis was a truly great heavyweight.
Lewis decisively beat the best of the last generation, namely, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. Moreover, he accomplished the immensely difficult task of coming back and turning the black lights on the men who had stopped him (Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall). More significantly, Lewis beat Vitali Klitschko when Klitschko was much closer to his prime. And yet, Klitschko went on to completely dominate every man who has stepped into the ring with him since the Lewis fight.
While a bit of a debacle because of the knee injury suffered by Solis, the fight in Cologne, Germany this weekend is cause to celebrate both the work of Vitali Klitschko and Lennox Lewis. It is also further evidence of the fact that with Klitschko's canon of a right, his pawing jab, and ability to control distance, it is probably going to take an NBA-sized fighter with a chin to give him the exciting tussle that he seems to crave.