The Klitschkos: Boxing's All-Time Best Brothers

J SorianoCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2009

HAMBURG - SEPTEMBER 24:   Vitali and Vladimir Klitschko  at home in Hamburg,  Germany on September 24, 2002. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Of all things, sports tend to run in families.

It makes sense: The family that plays together stays together.

We see examples of this all the time at the highest levels of sport, from tennis to basketball to football. From Serena and Venus Williams to Eli and Peyton Manning.

Boxing is no different.

But because of the perceived brutality involved with the sport, and the common rags-to-riches theme in boxing, siblings in the sweet science tend to stand out.

There have been many famous boxing families to date. The Fraziers (Joe, Jr., and Marvis), the Leonards (Ray and Roger), the Spinks (Leon and Michael), and The Marquezes (Juan Manuel and Rafael), to name a few.

Naturally, however, there can only be one “better” sibling—the one with the better record, the one with more belts, the one with the most titles—the famous one.

For every Manny Pacquiao, there is his less-heralded brother, Bobby.

For every Larry Holmes, there is Mark, a virtual unknown middleweight.

Occasionally, we see greatness run throughout a family, like the Mayweather clan.

Floyd Sr. and brothers Jeff and Roger captured titles in different weight classes and peaked at different times, while Floyd Jr. is considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

But rarely do we get a chance to see two athletes from the same family, in the same weight class, at the same time, dominate the sport.

We do with the Klitschkos.

Forget for a minute that the heavyweight division is perceived as weak and that the division is ruled by Europeans and relatively unknown challengers.

There hasn't been a great American heavyweight since Evander Holyfield, abruptly ending an iconic tradition that traces back to Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, Muhammed Ali, George Foreman, and Mike Tyson.

Ignore for a moment that all the biggest fights, paydays, and attention are going to the smaller men: the welterweights and middleweights.

Get past all of that, and you get the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir.

While some boxing purists will point to the uncreative mechanical style that defines them, very few can argue with their results in the ring.

Vitali, aka “Dr. Iron Fist,” has a career record of 39-2 with 37 knockouts. His knockout percentage of 94.9 percent is the highest in the history of the division.

And he holds the WBC heavyweight belt.

Fans have dubbed him “Iron Chin” because he maintains the rare distinction of never having been knocked down or out as a professional.

His brother Wladimir, aka “Dr. Steelhammer,” has amassed an even more impressive 53-3 record with 47 knockouts.

He is the current IBF, IBO, WBO, and Ring Magazine heavyweight champion.

Between the two, they own every available belt in the heavyweight division, save one—the WBA crown, currently held by David Haye.

Combined, they have wins over Chris Byrd, Lamon Brewster, Ray Mercer, Hasim Rahman, Ray Austin, Ruslan Chagaev, Sultan Ibragimov, Danny Williams, and Chris Arreola over a span of nearly 15 years.

Add to their impressive resumes, the fact that both hold PhDs and you get the two most formidable boxing brothers in the history of the sport.

With their sights set on unifying the final piece of the heavyweight championship by collecting the WBA belt, like them or not, the Klitschko brothers are doing things we may never see again.