Sunday, June 04, 2023  |



Fan Polls: Comeback of the Year

Fighters Network


Vitali Klitschko: 44 percent
Nate Campbell: 27 percent
Vic Darchinyan: 21 percent
Raul Marquez: 8 percent

Today’s poll: Upset of the Year
To vote, go to, then click on boxing

No one doubted Vitali Klitschko’s ability going into his title fight against Samuel Peter on Oct. 11 in Berlin. The question mark was an eternity-like layoff of almost four years, the result of the big Ukrainian’s inability to remain healthy.

Was Klitschko finally fit? Would his age, 37, be a handicap? Would his hiatus leave him dangerously rusty against a tough, proven opponent like the WBC titleholder?

Klitschko emphatically answered those questions in his favor with one of the most-impressive heavyweight performances in years, pummeling the normally fierce Peter until he quit on his stool after the eighth round.

“I knew if I lost the fight I wouldn’t get a second chance,” Klitschko said after the fight. “It was a one-way ticket, and I used my chance.”

To provide some perspective: This is the same Peter who put Wladimir Klitschko down three times before losing a fairly close decision in 2005, the Nigerian-born fighter’s only previous setback.

And against Vitali Klitschko, Peter was rendered helpless, utterly unable to cope with the bigger man’s reach, skills and determination. Peter took a beating but quit as much out of frustration as physical punishment.

Peter isn’t exactly Joe Frazier. Still, in light of the layoff, Klitschko’s performance could hardly have been more impressive. He went from retired to perhaps the best heavyweight in the world on one remarkable night.

With the victory, Klitschko (36-2, 35 knockouts) realized his dream of holding a heavyweight title at the same time as his brother, the IBF and WBO belt holder, and also can claim to have the fourth-longest gap between titles in heavyweight history.

George Foreman regained the belt 20 years after losing it to Muhammad Ali in 1974, Mike Tyson regained it six years after losing it to Buster Douglas in 1990 and Ali regained it five years after the last of the sanctioning bodies stripped him of his title in 1969.

Klitschko, now a three-time titleholder, won the WBO title in 1999 when he stopped Herbie Hide in two rounds and then lost it the following year to then-slick Chris Byrd. In 2004, he won the vacant WBC belt by avenging his brother’s loss to Corrie Sanders and then successfully defended against Danny Williams before “retiring” because of injuries.

However, Klitschko’s most-impressive performance – even more impressive than his victory over Peter – was his sixth-round TKO loss to Lennox Lewis in 2003. Klitschko, standing toe-to-toe with a Hall of Famer, was leading on points when the fight was stopped because he was cut.

That night, he proved that he is among the best heavyweights of his time. If there was any doubt, he proved it again this past October.

And he’s just getting started again. Next up for Klitschko: Cruiserweight-turned-heavyweight David Haye in June.