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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
Meet the Klitschkos
By Sanjeev Shetty

Heavyweight boxing contenders Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Kliltschko
Vitali (right) is poised for the first go against Lennox Lewis
Mrs Nadezhda Klitschko must be a proud woman - she raised two sons who both stand over 6ft 5ins, can speak four languages and could defend her honour if required.

But can they really fight?

Vitali Klitschko will get his chance to fight WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis on 21 June, while brother Wladimir rues his shocking loss to Corrie Sanders in March.

BBC Sport takes a look at the brothers and analyses whether either has a realistic chance against Lewis.


Born: 19/7/1971
Titles held: WBO heavyweight title
Qualifications: Doctorate of Philosophic Sciences
Interesting fact: Vitali never sees his dreams
Vitali, the elder of the brothers, employs a boxing style not dissimilar to that of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

With his hands low, he tries to appear relaxed, but his foot movement is limited and he frequently looks off balance.

Wladimir has more composure, carrying his hands higher, throwing a textbook jab and looking patiently for openings.

Verdict: Neither brother is good enough


Both the Klitschkos must have eaten their Shredded Wheat when they were growing up - with physiques like Roman Gods, they punch with brutal power.

Vitali probably hits harder and that compensates for his lack of mobility.

But Wladimir's ability to put together combinations makes his power that much more devastating.

Verdict: Half a chance

Strength of chin/endurance

Born: 25/3/1976
Titles held: WBO heavyweight title
Qualifications: PhD in Physical Training and Sport
Interesting fact: When he was young, Wladimir dreamed of being a traveller
Vitali Klitschko has not displayed problems with stamina or his chin, but his sole defeat raised question marks about his character.

Ahead on points against American Chris Byrd, Vitali withdrew before the start of the 11th round, citing a torn rotator cuff.

Many observers, particularly in America, believed that his action showed a lack of intestinal fortitude, with many of the greats having battled against broken jaws, noses and other ailments.

Wladimir's stamina and chin have been questioned in his two defeats.

His first loss, an 11th round stoppage loss to journeyman Ross Purity, was a result of the Ukrainian running out of energy and in his last fight, South African Sanders floored Klitschko four times in two rounds.

Verdict: Bad news for Ukraine


Both the Klitschkos are multi-lingual and have substantial qualifications.

According to most, they are the epitome of charm and are comfortable in front of the camera when not boxing.

At 32, Vitali is nearly five years older than Wladimir and his older brother mentality was evident when he challenged Sanders immediately after seeing his sibling demolished.

So convinced with Wladimir's package of charisma and talent were American cable company HBO that they signed him to a 10-fight deal.

Because of that, he is sure to rise again.

Verdict: Breath of fresh air


Personality doesn't win fights, although in Muhammad Ali's case, it unnerved plenty of his opponents.

But even if you took Vitali's chin and stamina, Wladimir's skill and power, it would not be enough to beat Lewis, one of the best heavyweights ever.

A game of chess would be a different matter and the Klitschkos have challenged Lewis.

Both of the Ukrainian brothers are accomplished players.

And one only has to look at how Lewis was humbled by a teenager in Memphis last summer to know that the champ is vulnerable on a chequered board, if not in the ring.

Heavyweight division bowed
10 Mar 03  |  Boxing
Lewis given ultimatum
29 Mar 03  |  Boxing
Klitschko stunned by Sanders
08 Mar 03  |  Boxing

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