5 Biggest Threats to Wladimir Klitschko's Dominance of the Heavyweight Division

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

5 Biggest Threats to Wladimir Klitschko's Dominance of the Heavyweight Division

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    Wladimir Klitschko (59-3, 50 KO) has been the dominant force in heavyweight boxing for the past several years. He hasn't lost a fight in nearly eight years and has dominated every opponent put in front of him during that time period.

    As the IBF/WBA/WBO world champion, his reign is virtually undisputed. The only man who can make any sort of legitimate claim would be older brother Vitali, and challengers have been in short supply of late.

    That has forced the champion to line up and knock down a series of retreads, unknowns and no-hopers who have all but killed interest in heavyweight boxing.

    But that could be about to change. There are finally on the horizon several young heavyweights who, if managed correctly, could well find themselves, if nothing else, live dogs against the champion.

    These five men are the biggest challenges to Wlad's heavyweight dominance in the world today.

Tyson Fury

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    Very few heavyweights in the world can match Wladimir Klitschko in terms of sheer size and boxing ability. It's not just that the champion is big but that he uses his frame perfectly and boxes so well behind his jab, it's hard to get inside.

    Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KO) may have less of a problem with that style than most. 

    For one thing, at 6'9" he would have a three-inch height advantage over the champion, and his length and jab could present some problems not seen by Wladimir in quite some time.

    Fury also has a supreme confidence about himself, and unlike previous brash challengers, this isn't false bravado, that could will him past the substantial incoming he'll need to take in order to touch up the champ.

    He was very impressive in his last bout in winning a unanimous decision over fringe contender Kevin Johnson, who was also durable enough to see the final bell against Vitali Klitschko in 2009. 

    In the fight, Fury used his boxing ability very well and stuck to the type of game plan he might utilize should this fight come off.

Kubrat Pulev

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    Kubrat Pulev (17-0, 9 KO) turned pro just a few years ago, getting a late start for a boxer, but has made up for lost time by facing a slew of name fighters.

    He also had an extensive, and highly successful, amateur career, winning several well-regarded European titles and championships. The Bulgarian heavyweight won the European Boxing Union heavyweight title in his last fight, a knockout of previously undefeated Alexander Ustinov.

    His extensive amateur background and polish as a fighter would make him a substantial threat to anyone in the division, including Wladimir Klitschko.

David Price

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    David Price (15-0, 13 KO) is another undefeated British heavyweight who has done a good job of building a resume against other known fighters from across the pond. 

    He has shown more punching power than his countryman Tyson Fury, but hasn't faced anyone really ever considered a heavyweight contender, that is, unless you consider Audley Harrison, who turned pro with a great deal of hype before sputtering out quickly.

    He does, however, hold an amateur victory over Fury, and the two could be headed toward a match that will establish one or both as threats for the title.

Alexander Povetkin

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    Alexander Povetkin (25-0, 17 KO) holds the absolutely meaningless WBA regular heavyweight title and has been supposedly destined for a bout with Wladimir Klitschko for some time now. 

    Like most of the others on this list, Povetkin was a highly decorated amateur fighter, winning several high-profile European championships before turning pro.

    As a pro, he won his world title by defeating former titlist Ruslan Chagaev in 2011 and holds the most notable wins of any fighter who can stake a claim to challenging for the real title.

    His resume includes wins over faded names such as Larry Donald, Chris Byrd and Hasim Rahman. But he has also beaten solid fighters, including Chagaev, Eddie Chambers and, in highly controversial fashion, cruiserweight champion Marco Huck.

    Povetkin is underrated by many due to a lack of perceived willingness to face stiff challenges. But he can box and shouldn't be dismissed.

Deontay Wilder

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    Say what you will about Deontay Wilder (27-0, 27 KO) and his boxing technique, but boy can he punch. He's by far the most raw and unrefined heavyweight on this list.

    Does he have talent? Yes. But his ceiling is far from determined, and he can be difficult to watch at times and is overly reliant on his ability to knock guys out. There has thus far been no plan B.

    At this stage of his career, his chances against Wladimir Klitschko can be summed up in the often derisive term the puncher's chance. 

    Wilder throws with dynamite in his hands, and if there's one thing that Wlad has shown throughout his career, it's a questionable, and at times weak, chin. If Wilder were to find a way through his guard and land a perfect shot on the button, it would be interesting to see if the champ could take it.