Wladimir Klitschko makes his historic return to America this Saturday, April 25th when he puts up all his baubles against undefeated American contender Bryant Jennings, 19-0, 10 KO. This will be his 3rd fight at Madison Square Garden, that’s New York, New York FYI, his last two appearances being too many moons ago to count.
More importantly, Wlad makes his official challenge this year at the great Joe Louis heavyweight records that have withstood the test of time as well as Babe Ruth’s baseball records. New athletes may come along and nip away here and there at specific records, but none will ever capture the elemental primacy that Joe and Babe displayed in dominating their eras in the richest histories of boxing and baseball.
None of that matters to Wlad since a fighter can only fight in context to his own era, one that he has been instrumental in making boxing more international. It helps that he and his brother Vitali are up there in the great pantheon of dominating fighters, their collective records of 63-3, 53 KO and 45-2, 41 KO add up to an amazing 108-5, 94 KO, not only dominating in knockouts but also in winning rounds, something like 90% of all rounds contested.
The 39 year old Wlad is 24-2, 19 KO in championship bouts going against the prime aged 30 year old Bryant Jennings with a guarantee to tie the Louis 27 total title fight record. The Louis total win record of 26 may well be tied at the end of the year or perhaps broken if Wlad fights three times this year, however, as invincible as Wlad looks by recent performance and record, being 39 years of age is not a typical invincible age for a fighter. He is fighting way past the primacy of any previous heavyweight champion save perhaps how any might evaluate the career of George Foreman. Foreman retired for a decade before coming back to fight his way back to becoming a contender, champ, and on well into his late 40s.
What about the hopeful American contender, the new kid on the ratings block, Bryant Jenning you ask?
Well, on paper he has about a fractional chance just above zero, however, at Wlad’s age, stuff can happen, so if Jennings plays it cool and smart, he could be around for if and when some bad stuff happens. I haven’t seen Jennings in a true jab and run fight that he’ll need to survive the early going, so he’ll have to pull it out fresh and hope it’s enough to stay out of Wlad’s range. Unfortunately for him though, Wlad and his brother Vitali are among the best long range boxing heavies in history. Jennings could try to go inside, a dangerous gambit for a smaller, weaker fighter as Wlad excels at locking fighters up to wait for the ref break in between muscling around fighters to wear them out.
Win, lose, or draw, Jennings has made a bold statement to the rest of America’s light in the loafers, faint in the heart heavyweight wannabes. He’s a fighter and won’t be hiding behind some sugar daddy promoter feeding him the dead and dying like they’ve grown used to. He’s right at his athletic prime in which any young man tends to feel invincible and is willing to go for the biggest prize in boxing. I’m looking forward to this.