Photo and report by Phil Doherty
The Heavyweight Factory boxing gym in Hollywood Florida received a surprise visitor this afternoon when WBO, IBF, IBO and Ring magazine world heavyweight champion Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko (55-3, 49 KO’s) stopped in for some “light” conditioning. Klitschko mercilessly assaulted one of the gym’s heavy bags for almost 20 straight rounds until the hapless sack tore off the iron cross beam securing it. No worries for Klitschko as he nonchalantly stepped to his right and continued pounding the next bag in line.
The Ukrainian Klitschko plans the same fate for his next opponent: the ever-voluble WBA world champion David “Hayemaker” Haye (25-1, 23 KOs) when and if they square off as scheduled in Germany on July 2nd. Haye has backed out of scheduled fights against Wladimir and his older brother, WBC World champion Vitali (42-2, 39 KOs). Wladimir admits he will believe the fight is on when Haye is: “standing across from me in the opposite corner.”
For those who’ve never had the opportunity to see the 35-year old Klitschko in the flesh, his monumental stature is surprising. The champion towers at almost six feet seven inches tall of what appears to be pure muscle. His massive back coiled and arched as he worked the bags in the steaming gym under the South Florida heat. Fellow fighters from multiple weight divisions looked on in awe as the champion did his thing. He entered the gym by himself. No entourage, no fanfare, no problem.
Indeed, even his International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward wasn’t present due to training former light heavyweight champion “Bad” Chad Dawson at the Kronk gym in Detroit. Dawson (29-1, 17 KOs) readies himself to face Adrian Diaconu (27-2, 15 KOs) on May 21st in Montreal as part of the Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal rematch.
Klitschko seems to have already beaten David Haye to the punch in at least one arena—motion pictures. Haye recently mentioned pursuing a film career when he leaves the boxing profession. However, Wladimir and his brother Vitali receive rave reviews for the documentary film Klitschko, which premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Of course the Klitschkos play themselves in the film, which traces their incredible decade-long domination of the heavyweight landscape.
Although fans have long complained of their “boring” style, Wladimir shows surprisingly nimble footwork and swift handspeed when he needs it. He also flashed a sharp sense of humor as he joked with another pair of brothers, super middleweights Andre and Anthony Direll.
The storyline of Wladimir Klitschko’s career continues to develop but his massive physical size and incredible work ethic easily explain why he remains a world champion. Sometimes you can believe what you see on TV.