Ukrainian National Hero Klitschko Wins by TKO Amidst Homeland Troubles
Wladimir Klitschko knocked down Alex Leapai three times en route to a fifth-round stoppage victory over the Samoan-Australian Alex Leapai on Saturday.
Wladimir Klitschko defended his heavyweight belts with another sparring-session of a match before a cheering German audience, wife Hayden Panettiere, and brother and Ukrainian political leader Vitali Klitschko. If the events in the ring mesh with the fifteen forgettable title defenses that preceded it, the events outside of the ring in Klitschko’s native Ukraine provided added drama. Klitschko announced to a global television audience after the match that he was "proud" of his countrymen.
The champion scored early. The taller man utilized a jab to stay out of Leapai’s range and to inflict punishment. In an otherwise uneventful first round, the Ukrainian sent Leapai to the canvass with a series of crisp Larry Holmes-like lefts.
The second round proved more dominant for the champion than the first despite the lack of a knockdown in the stanza. The champion utilized a mechanical jab to keep Leapai at bay and a straight right hand to remind the Samoan of his power. The third and fourth frames played out much the same, with Leapai occasionally launching desperate windmill or looping fists that failed to find a face.
The fifth and final frame proved the match’s most exciting. Leapai, who landed just two punches a round during the fight, clipped Klitschko and stumbled the champion. The only second of the fight won by Leapai served as an alarm bell for the not-so-sleeping giant. Dr. Steelhammer quickly issued another knockdown. With a minute left in the round, a thundering right hand set up by the jab sent Leapai to the canvass to stay. The referee quickly and mercifully ended the fight by technical knockout.
CompuBox gauged the landed punches in the lopsided fight at 147 for Klitschko to just 10 for Leapai. The champion improved to 62-3 while the challenger drops to 30-5-3.
Draped in his nation’s flag, the lineal heavyweight champion thanked his fellow countrymen for their support. Klitschko, whose brother recently retired from boxing to focus on politics in his beleaguered homeland, also applauded his German audience for supporting the struggle of Ukrainians: “The people who stood up for the rights of Ukrainians deserve our praise.”
The 38-year-old has won twenty fights in the ten years and sixteen days since losing via knockout in wild comeback by Lamon Brewster. The thinness of talent in the heavyweight ranks translates to no significant challenges on Klitschko’s horizon save for the crisis engulfing his homeland. “It wasn’t easy with everything that goes on at home,” he conceded after Saturday’s victory. “My head has been there.”