Wladimir Klitschko isn't thinking about retirement yet, as he prepares for his May 4 fight against Francesco Pianeta of Italy, but the 36-year-old heavyweight champ has tired of his critics.
"I'm always criticised with my opponents, it doesn't matter if they are well known or not so much and it's always very difficult to fight against someone that is not known because you are always getting these critics. I have to assure you that (the) fight against Francesco Pianeta is going to be very, very tough and difficult because he is super motivated."
Klitschko (59-3, 50 KO) has made a good living by saying things like this, and while some fans agree that the Klitschkos receive too much criticism, what I think is more the case is that very valid criticism is often aimed at the wrong party.
Wladimir and Vitali are often called "boring" fighters. I don't think Vitali is really boring at all, though Wladimir definitely can be -- he's got more of a "play it safe" approach, while Vitali is the brother with the greater killer instinct. Wladimir's fights don't make me groan because of his style, though. Most opponents also tend to avoid any true conflict with him after the bell rings, and when someone does come at him, he generally takes them out. When pressed, Wladimir can bring the hammer down as well as anyone in the sport.
What more bothers me about Wladimir in particular is the way he sells garbage to fans who are either willing to buy into it for whatever reason (some reasons are good, some aren't), and the criticism of the critics. I don't think critics should be treated wonderfully by fighters -- I would never expect Andre Dirrell to be nice to me, for instance -- but Klitschko uses a sort of sly tactic when he does this, and it irks me a bit.
When Wladimir overhypes his opponents, most will think, "At least he's not talking trash." He saves the trash talking for his critics, and even that he does in a "gentlemanly" fashion, never going berserk. He just sort of dismisses the complaints, and subtly turns the tables.
"It's their fault. I always have haters, so it's fine. If there are always haters, then they're always wrong."
That is not the case, though. Klitschko is a very, very good fighter at the absolute least -- he has his argument for true greatness, having thoroughly dominated his era alongside his brother. While the era's heavyweights were weak in comparison, I think that says more about the brothers than it does everyone else. While the division as a whole is certainly feeble, Wladimir and Vitali are not. They are the real deal, a pair of guys who have honed their craft. That is what has set them apart. They also train for and approach every fight as if it's really going to be as tough as they tell the press, and that is very commendable.
And though it is true that Wladimir is not at fault for Pianeta being a poor opponent, that does not put the fight beyond criticism. It's not criticism of Wladimir Klitschko to say this is not a good fight. It's just not a good fight, which lies with Pianeta's involvement. For many around the world, Wladimir himself is enough reason for the fight to be must-see. Personally, I'll never miss a Klitschko fight, and not just because this is my job. If it wasn't, I'd still always watch either of them, just to see them. They're the best at what they do.
Pianeta, though, does not figure to be competitive, and when Wladimir keeps banging on about how tough this fight is going to be, it makes him look like your typical boxing promoter, lying about a bad fight and then getting mad when someone calls it what it is. It's as much nonsense to say that Jean Marc Mormeck is like Mike Tyson as it is for someone like Floyd Mayweather or Adrien Broner to go on some foul tirade, it's just done in a different style. Nonsense remains nonsense no matter the approach, and lies are lies, no matter how many smiles are attached.
I'm definitely not saying that I want Wladimir to change who he is, and start saying that Pianeta is trash and he'll knock him out within five rounds, and that all roads lead to Wladimir Klitschko and anyone CAN get it. But Wladimir must know deep down that his fights are deserving of the indifference that many fans feel whenever he announces a new opponent. There is a very valid reason for criticism, it's simply projected onto the wrong man more often than not.