Wladimir Klitschko

Wladimir Klitschko – The Surgeon Operates!

by Fran on March 21, 2012


Having looked at the style of Vitali Klitschko, I’m sure that Mama Klitschko would be disappointed if her boys weren’t afforded equal treatment. So, I’ve decided to cast an eye over a Wladimir Klitschko fight, his 2008 contest against Hasim Rahman. You’ll be surprised to know that the fight took place in Germany.

We pick the fight up in the 5th round (40:54). You can watch the previous rounds, but to make the points that I want to make I only actually need to use the final couple of rounds of this particular massacre. The previous 4 rounds were fairly consistent with this one, with Wladimir in imperious form.

And by the way, Hasim Rahman is a seasoned fighter. He’s tough and versatile. He has 41 KOs from 50 wins, and this makes him a heavy hitter in my book. Serious opposition who stepped in that ring to win. Here is the video and below are some observations:

What’s With That Left Hand Thing?

Wladimir is like his brother in many ways. The stance is balanced and quite wide, the upper body is upright and side-on to the opponent thereby presenting less of a target, allowing maximum rotation for the right cross and allowing efficient deployment of the jab. The lead hand spends the vast majority of the time in a half-extended position. This has a number of benefits:

  • There is a shorter distance for the jab to travel
  • The constant presence of the lead hand ‘in their space’ gives the opponent lots to think about
  • It’s very effective as a probe, really helping Klitschko with effective range-finding for other shots
  • It enables Wladimir to hold an advance defence down his left channel, making lead hand blocks and lead hand parries play a greater part in his defensive make-up (particularly against straight shots).

However, I’m sure that you you can guess the potential vulnerability here? It’s the fact that Klitschko is open to incoming hooks around the leading left hand. But, and here’s a key, he is always, always ready to push away from danger with his feet, extending the lead arm at the same time. This limits the risk around that vulnerability to the hook. If he stayed still he could encounter big problems, particularly against a fighter who is both good on the way in AND on the inside.

Your Weapon of Choice

The jab is the true weapon of Wladimir Klitschko’s dominance. I’m going go out on a limb here and say that the jab of Wladimir Klitschko is the best in boxing since the reign of Larry Holmes, maybe even better. It’s almost a cliche in boxing, the way in which we extol the virtues of the simple lead hand jab. But we do so with good reason. In this fight Wladimir breaks up Hasim Rahman right from the outset, and the jab is the weapon of choice.

By the time our clip begins, Hasim Rahman must have eaten about 50 jabs a round for the previous 4 rounds. And these are big jabs. Hats off to Klitschko, the arm extends, accelerating onto the target. There is zero elbow flare, Rahman just doesn’t have the time to defend against this job because of the technical perfection of the shot. Any young fighters wanting to know how to jab properly, this is the fight to watch. I don’t need to point out times, there’s barely 5 seconds go by without him slamming home this javelin of a shot.

The Old One-Two

Wladimir is very comfortable firing the one-two (jab then the right cross). Check out the combination at around 42:53. Full rotation of the hips and leaning slightly to the left allows the shot to come down onto the target; an overhand right. This just confirms his dominance at long range, beating Rahman to the shot every time. And I bet it hurts when it lands!

Risk Averse?

In the Vitali Klitschko vs Kirk Johnson article I talked about the Ukrainian’s apparent reluctance to take risks, preferring instead to smash home long range shots without becoming involved in ‘trench warfare’ in the form of infighting. Wladimir is cut from the same cloth. He is a fighter who doesn’t want to take unnecessary risks. In fact, his style does not allow it. But, he regularly performs what we coaches often preach against; leading with a left hook (lead hand hook).

Check out 45:24. Klitshcko lands THREE left hooks in quick succession. Rahman ducks in low and forward and eats a perfect short range left hook. Immediately two more left hooks land, extending the range slightly with each. Rahman has nowhere go but the canvas. Klitschko’s left hooks are powerful but safe. Why? Watch his weight distribution as the shots go. Each time he throws the hook his body weight slams into his back foot due to the massive drive off the front foot. This is great hooking from a ‘risk averse’ straight puncher.

Turning the Screw

Having hurt Rahman badly, Wladimir now turns the screw on his foe. His punch rate increases, all built upon that crashing jab. Interesting to note that Klitschko begins feinting his jab in order to open up with his left hook 46:39. Hasim Rahman backs into the corner without much fight left and Wladimir begins his dismantling job; methodical and clinical. Looking for openings and not wanting to waste a single shot.

Wladimir looks tired around 47:50. He’s breathing heavy but still pushes himself to launch regular assaults, emboldened by his left hook successes. 48:01 sees him lead again with a full-blooded left hook. He’s a little more comfortable to take chances because he knows that Rahman is all but finished.

It’s all Over

Into the 8th round, and more of the same. Klitschko has simply beaten Rahman up. A thumping (lead) left hook lands at 50:06, quickly followed up by a mirrored right hook, the force of which rattled Rahman sideways.  Throughout all of this not once does Klitschko over-balance or over-commit, he is always in full control. It was a clinical finish without being spectacular. But there it is, that’s Wladimir.

I think this was a fantastic performance. It was a systematic one-sided beating, handed out in a technically proficient manner. Wladimir Klitschko demonstrates precision and power. He combines with these a work-ethic that has a wearing effect on opponents. For me he’s the real deal. Speaking of which, Wladimir and a ‘peak’ Evander Holyfield would have made an amazing match-up. A truly mouth-watering clash of styles. We can but dream…



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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Alvaro October 20, 2015 at 11:49 pm

You are very good!

May I ask how could it be explored against the lead arm being extended? As you said he uses it to control distance and just pulls back if things get dangerous. It seems to me a pretty unbeatable formula


Fran October 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Confident jabbing from someone with a similar reach maybe Alvaro? He does have a very solid style, no doubt.


ahk April 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm

klitschko = best HW
Ali = p4p king


Joshua October 3, 2016 at 1:28 am


ali = best hw
srr = p4p king



greatest August 9, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Ali would have murdered wladimir.Ali was faster than sugar ray robinson.sugar ray was a middle weight. Ali was fast and had amazing footwork and damn durable. If you think aby of the klitschos could have survived the rumble in the jungle then you are on crack!!!


markzima June 10, 2013 at 5:43 am

Here is an alternate video of the 2008 W. Klitschko v. Rahman fight to replace the original video of this article that was removed:


Fran June 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Thanks Mark. I’ll get the timings aligned.


Ivan December 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

The main stream in the US has been screaming for a Great White Hope ever since Marciano retired. Just when all hope seemed to be on hold, two Great White Hopes came true and blew away the opposition. Better than Larry Merchant’s dreams, bigger too. But there was a catch – they were Ukrainian of all places. Fighting out of Germany. So what – not great enough, not white enough, not hopeful enough – where is the fanfare, the candid enthusiasm of the talking heads on TV? Oops, they are not even on US TV. Champions of the world nevertheless, Great White Hopes indeed – it’s an American concept, Germany had nothing to do with it.

If the Klitshkos were two American dudes called Budd and Bob, they would have been hyped up to outer space, endorsements, commercials, own food and clothes brands, Hollywood, the whole nine yards plus ten more. Look what the hype machine did with Brock Lesnar even before he fought for an MMA title. Did he deliver – of course not , he was already too rich to fight, too rich to train, and they kicked him in the stomach. A two-bit redneck no-hoper from the beginning.

If they were Chinese or Russian the motherland would have taken very good care of them. If they were British, they would be national heroes with noble ranks and titles. They are not even German, still Germany has been their real home and benefactor. Ukraine just doesn’t need as much propaganda as the G8 nations, the Klitschkos are on their own. They remind me of an independent movie studio coming on top of the Hollywood establishment.

All I’m saying is fans need to keep an open mind about the Klitschkos, the brothers will do the rest. The heavyweight division today is as tough as they come. Wlad and Vitali will be appreciated when they are gone. They will be sorely missed when they retire even by those who slight them today but deep down admire them.


Fran December 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Hear hear. Great comment Ivan, made with eloquence, precision and poetic charm. I agree and mentioned in the Vitali article that if the brothers were from stateside then the colour of their skin and the clean living approach to life would guarantee idol status. After all, I remember the fanfare that heralded Gerry Cooney’s assault on Larry Holmes. The Great White Hope was smashed into defeat without a moment’s doubt. Would the boys have met the same fate against the terribly underrated Holmes? Dream matchup for me that one. Thanks for the comment Ivan, Happy New Year.


Ivan January 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

The prime Holmes would definitely have been a problem for anyone. Under-appreciated champion mainly due to the the negative media coverage. He had a talent for turning the press and boxing officials against him:
From 5.00 to 7.00 he makes more damaging statements than many boxers could in a life time. Funny thing is he was right about most of it, but his choice of words didn’t make life easier for him.

Holmes had two major setbacks as a boxer IMO – his hand speed was average and he didn’t have one punch KO power. If he had a punch, he would have been unbeatable and an easy number 1 of all time.
So Holmes vs Klitschko would be natural boxing ability against size, strength and conditioning. I would be much more concerned for the Klitschkos if they fought a prime Foreman.


Val October 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm


Please pay attention that W.K. video is removed from Youtube by the user. Thanks.


Fran October 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Thank you Val, I’ll find an alternative as soon as possible.


Fran April 3, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Haha. Maybe so hey Paul. Klitschko was very impressive here for me. Very difficult for opponents to deal with.


Ivan March 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I’d like to thank you for the in-depth appraisal of the styles of the K2 brothers. I can watch them from a different perspective now and see the purpose in some of the stuff they do. The control of range and the traps they set with the low left hand, the side-on upper body, the weight distribution – all appear to be elements of a game plan individually designed for each of them. They avoid close range and the lack of infighting is probably one of the reasons they are not very fashionable world-wide. And the reason Wlad gets only two comments form only one subscriber. The Klitschkos fill up soccer stadiums in Germany and I am glad that HBO doesn’t want them, so we can watch them for free in real time.

You did great on those articles, some expert technical analysis of two prize fighters who happen to hold all major titles. Technically speaking, the titles are in good hands.


Fran March 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Your welcome Ivan. It was at your prompting that I did something on Wladimir and Vitali, and I enjoyed doing it. Don’t fret on the comments front, they build up over time and regardless of whether the Kiltschkos are considered fashionable they certainly provide lots to learn from. This learning includes the way in which they conduct themselves beyond the ropes, that’s very important in my book. Thanks Ivan, you’re a valued member of the MyBoxingCoach community.


Ivan March 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Great analysis Fran. If you keep an open mind, you can see a lot of assets in Wladimir’s style, in fact too many. It makes amateurs feel professional and professionals feel amateurish. He may not be as crowd-pleasing as he is connoisseur-pleasing, but these days he looks unbeatable (Vitaly will not fight him). In fact I can’t think of too many champions from the past or present whom I would favor against the brothers – if you by any chance beat one, there is a rematch with the other, and they win in the end. Seriously, I guess a prime Foreman would have been a little problematic for a young Klitschko, but a prime Klitschko rules.

Mexicans love a fajador (a boxer who takes a punch in order to land one), Americans (HBO in particular) would kill for a Rocky, but in the real world crowd-pleasers have slurred speech at 30 and very little to show for it. A safety first style is healthy (not always for the other guy) but does not sell millions of pay-per-views.

Wladimir’s chin and stress threshold were a matter of concern early in his career. Fears have dissipated as he matured, but his main setback is that he is not a natural bully, a tough guy with killer instincts, so he is not a good finisher. He seems to be keeping his opponents on their feet even after they are begging to be knocked out of their misery. But even if it seems so, his KO percentage is nothing to sneeze at, and it can only get better.


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