It had been a long four years for the Ukrainian giant nicknamed Dr. Ironfist.
Since his eight round destruction of Danny Williams in 2004, then-WBC Heavyweight Champion Dr. Vitali Klitschko was forced to endure years of what he likely perceived to be betrayal.
In the wake of his dismantling of Williams, Klitschko was let down both by his body and the fickle fans of the sweet science. The same people who called Klitschko a "quitter" after a torn rotator cuff forced a premature end to his 2000 bout with Chris Byrd reappeared in droves when a series of injuries made Vitali postpone a planned fight with Hasim Rahman. Eventually, the proud warrior had to announce that he was leaving the sport because of his physical limitations.
Those who doubted the elder Klitschko's heart, however, would have been wise to review the events of June 21, 2003.
On that summer night in Los Angeles, Vitali Klitschko forever erased any concerns about his will or ability. The Ukrainian battered heavyweight titlist Lennox Lewis from pillar to post and was, at most, a few rounds away from knocking out the proud British champion.
Unfortunately for Klitschko, he had suffered a horrific cut during the third round. The laceration cost him the fight and spared Lewis a humiliating defeat.
The bout was stopped after the sixth round on the advice of the ringside doctor. At the time the contest was halted, Klitschko led four rounds to two (58-56) on all three official scorecards. Though Vitali's ability to see was becoming increasingly hampered, he was in firm control of the contest, and a fading Lewis was on his last legs as he dropped onto his stool after the end of the sixth.
It was only a matter of time before Lewis was finished off, and both fighters knew it.
Klitschko was incensed at the stoppage, and was immediately in Lewis' face demanding a rematch. Lennox agreed to give Klitschko a return bout.
Shortly thereafter, Lennox Lewis retired from boxing. There would be no Lewis-Klitschko II.
Many have since said that Vitali Klitschko retired Lennox Lewis, and based on Lewis' petty actions and statements towards Klitschko since their match in 2003, I cannot disagree with that sentiment. In short, Lewis has doth protested too much—far too much—since his matchup with Vitali Klitschko for me to be able to reach any other conclusion except that the British pugilist understood that Klitschko had his number, and that he wanted no part of a rematch with the massive Ph.D.
You would have thought that boxing fans and scribes might recall that series of events as we approached the Samuel Peter-Vitali Klitschko fight. Unfortunately, most did not.
Some overestimated Peter's skill, others said the time away from the ring would be Vitali's undoing against his younger foe. There were those who bemoaned the fact that Klitschko was getting a crack at Peter in the first place.
Whatever their varied reasons, a good number of so-called boxing experts favored Samuel Peter over Vitali Klitschko as Saturday, October 11th loomed. Thankfully, I was not part of that erroneous contingent.
Here was some of my reasoning from that post:
Peter is made for Vitali. His style, lack of defense and lack of stamina are perfect for Vitali. Yes, Vitali will have some rust and, yes, Vitali is older. But he is going to forever end the Peter hype and any questions anyone had about Rahman.
This was how the fight played out. Peter was forced to walk to Klitschko due to his relatively short stature. The only way Sam could hope to land a punch was to close the distance between himself and his towering opposition.
This played into Klitschko's hands as he repetitively scored with thudding counter-punches while Peter advanced and sometimes launched attacks that touched nothing but air. Klitschko had little trouble landing his shots and Peter's resolve and energy level gradually waned as the contest continued.
By the conclusion of the eighth round, Peter had had enough. An announcement was made over the public address system that Klitschko was far ahead on all official scorecards. At this point, a swollen-eyed and fading Peter made the decision that he would not be coming out for the scheduled ninth round.
With his victory, Vitali Klitschko became a three-time world heavyweight boxing champion. Vitali also joined his brother Wladimir in becoming the only brothers in boxing history to simultaneously hold heavyweight championship belts. The two men had long dreamt of achieving this accomplishment, and it had finally been realized.
Vitali Klitschko listened to the critics. He heard the doubters. He kept his poise while the haters launched their verbal tirades in the months and weeks leading up to his fight with Samuel Peter.
And then he went out this past Saturday night and gave Peter one of the most lopsided thrashings you will ever see in boxing.
Peter won one round, total, on the the three ringside judges' scorecards. And that was a gift. Following the eighth and final round, the official tallies were 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73.
No one should have been surprised at what took place in Berlin. This is who Vitali Klitschko is, and what he does.
Klitschko has the highest knockout percentage (92%+) in heavyweight history. Only one of his opponents (Timo Hoffman) has ever lasted the distance with the aptly-named Dr. Ironfist. Klitschko's two losses were the result of injuries, and he led on all scorecards when those two fights were stopped.
In other words, unless Klitschko gets injured (including during his training camps), he wins his fights. And he usually wins them by knockout.
On Saturday night, Vitali Klitschko resoundingly answered his detractors with a comprehensive defeat of Samuel Peter.
If you would like to view the fight in its entirety, I have posted it to my Youtube channel (courtesy of Germany's RTL Television). I will not post all of the various links for each round, but here are the links to the first and the eighth (final) rounds:
At the end of each video is an annotation with a link to the video of the next round, all the way through the final round and the aftermath of the fight.
Until next time, protect yourself at all times, and see you at the fights!