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When Klitschko became “Dr. Wimp”

On April 1, 2000, Vitali Klitschko suffers the first defeat of his professional career against an American. What seems like a bad April Fool’s joke has a major impact on the heavyweight’s career

Former professional boxer Vitali Klitschko suffered two defeats in his illustrious career – both of which caused quite a stir.

In June 2003, “Dr. Iron Fist” lost in Los Angeles to the superstar of the heavyweight scene, the British WBC world champion Lennox Lewis, by technical knockout, whereby the decision to stop the fight after the sixth round was extremely controversial.

Although badly scarred by a deep cut on his left eye, the Ukrainian challenger was determined to continue boxing and showed no understanding for the referee’s decision, as did the crowd, who acknowledged the stoppage with loud boos.

Klitschko is mocked as “Dr. Wimp “

Despite the bitter outcome, the now 52-year-old was able to feel like a secret winner and was celebrated for his strong fight, as he inflicted several effective punches on his supposedly overpowering opponent. He also proved his critics wrong, as he had been mocked as “Dr. Wimp” a good three years earlier.

Because on April 1, 2000 – 24 years ago today – Klitschko experienced an evening to forget in Berlin, when the WBO champion faced the US American Chris Byrd and had to throw in the towel before the 10th round due to injury.

Klitschko had dominated the fight and was clearly ahead with the three judges before he had to give in due to a tear in the rotator cuff of his left shoulder and incurred the wrath of US commentary legend Larry Merchant.

“He doesn’t have the mentality of a champion, otherwise he would have fought on,” the HBO commentator raged. “I can hardly believe what I just saw. All he had to do was stand still for a few more rounds. It’s incomprehensible how you can stop leading so clearly.”

The current mayor of Kiev only needed to last three more rounds to remain WBO world champion, but the pain simply did not allow the fight to continue.

“I was in so much pain, I couldn’t go on,” apologized a dismayed Klitschko, who had taken a blow to his left shoulder in the third round, which had opened up an old injury.”

Rehabilitation despite second defeat

“Health comes first,” said his coach Fritz Sdunek, justifying his protégé’s withdrawal, but also emphasized: “We feel like shit.” The first defeat after 27 knockouts in a row was undoubtedly a heavy blow for the then 28-year-old Klitschko.

For the USA, the most important boxing market in the world, the Ukrainian was burned and initially no longer an issue, before coming full circle in Los Angeles and bringing the great Lennox Lewis to the brink of defeat three years later like a phoenix from the ashes.

Although “Dr. Eisenfaust” lost the fight, he won the hearts of the fans and was fully rehabilitated in the USA. In the years that followed, he contested further fights in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles before stepping into the ring for the last time in 2012.

What remains is a unique professional career with 45 victories, including 41 by technical knockout, and two unfortunate defeats!



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