In anticipation of Wladimir Klitschko’s heavyweight title showdown with Anthony Joshua next week, we relive the four occasions on which the Ukrainian was beaten.
Here’s what the Englishman can take from his opponent’s four previous defeats…
Klitschko v Ross Puritty (1998)
Klitschko’s first defeat came in his first – and only – fight in Ukraine.
Just 22 at the time, he was a heavy favourite over Puritty, who had a professional record of 24 wins, 13 defeats and one draw.
But the American journeyman got his tactics spot on in Kiev and managed to cause a huge upset, taking Klitschko’s 24-fight unbeaten record.
The Ukrainian had never fought beyond the eighth round at the time of the bout, and began to tire in the second half after Puritty soaked up the early pressure.
Having barely thrown a punch in the first six rounds, the American eventually became the aggressor, putting Klitschko on his back in round 10 and finishing the fight in the 11th.
“I just let him punch himself out,” Puritty said years later.
A savvy tactic at the time, but probably not one that would work now against a much more experienced, patient Klitschko.
Klitschko v Corrie Sanders (2003)
Fatigue was no excuse for Klitschko on this occasion.
South African bomber Sanders had only boxed three rounds in the three years preceding this clash in Hannover, but was still able to pull off the upset of the year.
He knocked the WBO world champion down four times on his way to a stunning second-round victory.
While Klitschko’s conditioning was the problem in his first defeat, this bout revealed a more worrying issue: his chin.
Any fighter can be sent to the canvas by a single punch – particularly from a heavyweight – but Klitschko’s inability to regain his feet after the first heavy blow was a weakness that would be exposed again just three fights later.
Klitschko v Lamon Brewster (2004)
From the first second of this world title eliminator in Las Vegas, Brewster showed exactly how he planned to take down Klitschko.
Clearly spurred on by Sanders’ triumph in Germany, the American rushed in at the opening bell and tried to take his opponent’s head off with a series of hooks.
The American landed just 43 punches in total throughout the fights, but 32 of them were power shots that eventually had the desired effect.
Klitschko used his jab well and earned a knockdown in the fourth round, but was again unable to hold off a determined slugger as Brewster landed the decisive barrage at the end of the fifth.
Klitschko’s two flaws were again on full display.
He was completely spent after the fourth round, and had no response to Brewster’s bombs.
Klitschko v Tyson Fury (2015)
Klitschko’s first defeat for more than 11 years was like no other he had suffered previously.
Having built a 22-fight winning streak predominantly by outpointing his opponents, he was beaten to a decision in his adopted country by the unorthodox Fury.
The Englishman’s shifty head movement was the key in what was one of the least active title fights ever.
The Ukrainian was not bludgeoned or worn out. He was bamboozled.
Klitschko, it seemed, had grown gun-shy at the age of 39, throwing 231 punches – 278 fewer than he threw against David Haye four years earlier – and landing just 52.
If he is concerned about taking a powerful shot when he fights Joshua, he will likely be similarly inactive and leave himself open to another decision defeat.