W. Klitschko makes 16th title defense

The heavyweight champion finishes Alex Leapai in five rounds

Originally Published: April 26, 2014
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

The untouchable Wladimir Klitschko retained the heavyweight championship of the world and barely broke a sweat doing it.

Just a few days after reaching the eight-year mark as holder of a heavyweight title -- second all time in division history behind only Joe Louis' 11 years, 8 months and 8 days as champion -- Klitschko annihilated truck driver and mandatory challenger Alex Leapai.

Klitschko scored three knockdowns overall and stopped him in the fifth round of a one-sided destruction on Saturday at the König-Pilsener-Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.

How one-sided was it? To the CompuBox numbers we shall go.

Klitschko connected on 147 of 396 punches (37 percent), including 80 of 172 on power punches (47 percent), while Leapai's pathetic offense consisted of landing 10 -- yes, 10 -- out of 69 total punches (14 percent). Of those 10 punches that supposedly landed, nothing was even remotely damaging.

Klitschko landed nearly as many jabs (67) as Leapai threw total punches (69). And Klitschko closed the show brilliantly, landing 31 of 49 punches in the fifth round, while Leapai landed none of the 10 shots he threw.

"I feel very good at 38," said Klitschko, who is not even remotely thinking about retirement. He is enjoying himself way too much.

As he told ESPN.com a few days before the fight, "It's not hard to find motivation because I am enjoying what I'm doing. I'm crying like a baby because my training camp is coming to an end. It's exciting times to be in the sport. I love to get ready. It's exciting and enjoyable to be a true professional."

The win goes down as Klitschko's 16th successful defense of his second title reign, third-most in heavyweight history behind only Louis (25) and Larry Holmes (20). It also ran Klitschko's mark to 23-2 overall in heavyweight championship fights as he continued his historical reign.

Granted, Australia's Leapai was not an elite contender, but he was a mandatory challenger, meaning Klitschko had no choice but to fight him or be stripped of one of his belts.

Anyone who is unhappy with the level of opposition Klitschko faced, don't blame him. Blame the WBO, which put wrongly Leapai in the mandatory position after he upset previous mandatory challenger Denis Boytsov in November when Boytsov took a supposed tune-up and got whipped.

Those who take issue with Klitschko's opponents forget that he has faced basically all the top opponents of his time other than now-retired older brother Vitali Klitschko, for obvious reasons.

He has faced all comers and not had any issues with them either. Sure, there were some soft touches, like every titleholder faces, such as Leapai (remember, a mandatory), Jean-Marc Mormeck, Francesco Pianeta and Ray Austin (also a mandatory).

But some thought the undefeated Alexander Povetkin would give him problems. Klitschko dropped him four times and shut him out.

David Haye, who trash-talked Klitschko for years, was supposed to be a big threat, but he got rolled in a one-sided unification fight.

Legit contender Tony Thompson got knocked out twice in mandatory defenses.

Then-undefeated Ruslan Chagaev, stripped of his alphabet belt for taking the fight with Klitschko, got smashed.

Then-unbeaten titleholder Sultan Ibragimov was dominated in a virtual shutout loss.

There is no Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson or George Foreman for Klitschko to face. That's not his fault. All he does is win against the opponents available to him, and he doesn't just eke out victories -- he wipes his opponents out.

The 34-year-old Leapai, who gave up 6 inches to the 6-foot-6 Klitschko, was just the latest to get his rear end kicked and probably won't be the last.

[+] EnlargeWladimir Klitschko, Alex Leapai
AP Photo/Frank AugsteinWladimir Klitschko, right, dropped Alex Leapai three times on his way to a TKO victory in Round 5.

Klitschko (62-3, 53 KOs) dropped him in the opening round with a hard jab, a round in which Klitschko outlanded Leapai 23-3. Leapai was not badly hurt on the knockdown, but it was just a matter of time.

Klitschko mixed up his punches and landed all kinds of right hands, jabs, a few left hooks and even went downstairs to the body a few times. Leapai had no answer for anything.

Klitschko kept him exactly where he wanted him, repeatedly landed 1-2 combinations and broke Leapai (30-5-3, 24 KOs) down.

"They said he was very tough, that he dreamed of the title," Klitschko said of Leapai. "I wish him everything good in his life. He gave everything."

Every round was one-sided, especially the fifth, when Klitschko buckled him with a right hand and dropped him and then dropped him again moments later with more heavy blows, prompting referee Eddie Cotton to wave it off at 2 minutes, 5 seconds as the pro-Klitschko crowd cheered wildly. They don't mind Klitschko's dominant wins one iota. They revel in them.

If there were any concerns whatsoever about Klitschko's readiness for the fight, it was the fact that he is from Ukraine and his homeland has been on his mind, given all of the strife and uncertainty there. Distractions abounded.

His mother, Nadezhda, lives there, as do many of his friends. And brother Vitali is smack in the middle of the chaos as one of the opposition-party leaders, but he made it to the fight to work in his brother's corner, as always. But a just a few days before the fight Wladimir was unsure if his brother would be there.

"It wasn't easy with everything that's going on at home," Wladimir Klitschko said. "I hope there's going to be a political compromise. Ukraine is going to stay as it is, and it is not going to fall apart. All of the people who stood up for the rights of Ukraine deserve our praise and our thoughts."

Klitschko said he tried to push thoughts of Ukraine out of his mind as the fight approached, something not so easy to do.

"It's dangerous. People are getting killed and shot," he said. "I am worried about my brother and countrymen and everyone. It's my country. You cannot imagine how many feelings there have been for me about what has gone on these past months."

But, like the true champion he is, Klitschko put that out of his mind, at least for the five rounds that he shared the ring with Leapai, yet another opponent with championship dreams shattered at the end of Klitschko's powerful fists.

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