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Ranking the best Ukrainian fighters of all time


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Ukraine has a special place in boxing history. Although being an East Bloc country and a part of Soviet Union prevented its' boxers from turning pro until the 90's, they always had a strong boxing tradition and plenty of talents that later made it in the west, both as amateurs and pros. The best known and most successful remain the Klitschko brothers, but lately, guys like Oleksandr Usyk, Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Gvozdyk have all made their mark on the sport, especially the first two. All three have won world titles and Usyk was even the undisputed cruiser champion before moving up to heavyweight. So, without further redue, lets start the tour of Ukrainian best boxers!


1. Wladimir Klitschko (originally spelled "Volodymyr Klychko", pronounced "Voh-loh-dee-meer Klee-chko")


This guy just must be at no.1. He is so far the only Ukrainian to have held almost all major belts at heavyweight and the only one to make 18 defenses as (IBF) world champ. The 6'6 Wladimir was blessed with good skills, a very good punch and a good jab, but on the downside was known to be chinny and early on as a pro he also had conditioning problems he later overcame. Wladimir/Volodymyr was born in Kazakhstan, 25 March 1976, and grew up in Kiev, Ukraine. He won the gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and turned pro later that same year. He experienced his first loss in 1998, when he gassed after 10 rounds and was stopped in the 11th by the tough trialhorse Ross Purritty. His first success came in 2000, when he impressively beat Chris Byrd by UD to win the WBO title, which his brother Vitali had previously lost against Byrd. He defended it by stopping some solid contenders of that time, like Derrick Jefferson (TKO2), Charles Shufford (TKO6), Frans Botha (TKO8), Ray Mercer (TKO6) and the equally-big Jameel McCline, RTD10. He lost the title in a shock upset on 8 March 2003, when he was taken out in 2 rounds by the fast hands of Corrie Sanders. His attempt to take back the same title against Lamon Brewster ended in another stoppage loss, in the 5th round, after first having Brewster down in the 4th but then gassing after punching himself out. He then captured the IBF title in a rematch with Chris Byrd in 2006 and this time stopped Byrd by a TKO7. In 2007, he avenged the loss to Brewster by giving him a one-sided beating until he quit after the 6th round. In 2008, he beat the undefeated and highly rated Sultan Ibragimov by UD and knocked out Tony Thompson in 11. He also stopped Hasim Rahman by a TKO7 at the end of that year. His other significant victories was a UD against David Haye in 2011, another UD over previously undefeated Alexander Povetkin in 2013 and finally a KO5 against also previously undefeated Kubrat Pulev in 2014. After 18 defenses, he finally lost his IBF title, as well as WBA, WBO and IBO which he collected along the way, to the English underdog Tyson Fury, who was younger by 12 years and taller by 3 inches. It was on 28 November 2015 that Wladimir found himself dominated by the younger and bigger man and although he turned it up in the later rounds, it wasn't enough and he lost by a clear UD. He would return once more to the ring in a barnburner classic against the new star in the division-Anthony Joshua. It was on 29 April 2017 at Wembley that the two waged an incredible war, and both men were down and took lots of punishment before the younger man in the end prevailed and stopped Klitschko by a TKO11, after dropping him twice. WK's record is 64 wins, 53 by ko, and 5 losses, 4 by ko. This year, he was inducted into the IBHOF, thus becoming their second Ukrainian member, after his brother.


2. Vasyliy Lomachenko ("Va-see-lee Loh-mah-chenko)


Although his career isn't over yet by any stretch of imagination, this guy has already done enough to be justified a ranking here. Perhaps in the future he will take over the no.1 spot, but not at the moment. The man who has won everything as amateur and as a pro he has won a lot already, despite only having 17 fights. Lomachenko was born in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, a city on the Dniester river, near the Black Sea coast, 17 February 1988. As amateur, he was the 2006 world champion as a flyweight, 2007 and 2009 world champion as a featherweight and 2011 world champion as a lightweight. He also won the gold at 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he received the Val Barker trophy as the best boxer of the tournament, at featherweight. In the 2012 Olympics in London, he competed as a lightweight and again won the gold medal, defeating Felix Verdejo, among others. He turned pro under the management of Bob Arum, 12 October 2013, and knocked out Jose Luis Ramirez (not that one!) in 4 rounds. He was then given a chance to win the WBO feather title in his second pro fight, aiming to break the world record by becoming the world champion fastest. However, the opponent was unfortunately the vastly more experienced and heavier Orlando Salido. It was 1 March 2014 in Houston when the young Loma suffered his first loss by a split decision-fair or not, his zero was already gone after only two fights. He rebounded only 3 months later by beating the 24-0 Gary Allen Russell by MD and thus finally winning that WBO belt. He defended it 3 times before vacating it to step up to super featherweight. In his first fight there, he took on the WBO-champion Rocky Martinez and destroyed him in 5 rounds by ko, 11 June 2016. He then defeated the 26-0 Nicholas Walters by a corner retirement in 7, Jason Sosa by a corner retirement in 9 and Miguel Marriaga by a corner retirement in 7, before fighting his by then biggest fight against the former unified world super bantam champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, 6 December 2017. Loma soundly dominated the older Cuban and made him quit after 6 rounds. He then went up to 135 and won the WBA title there by stopping the excellent Jorge Linares with a body shot in 10 rounds, after being briefly down once. He then won the WBO title as well by beating Jose Pedraza by UD. Both fights happened in 2018 and next year he knocked out Anthony Crolla in 4 to defend those two belts, before beating Luke Campbell by UD after knocking him down once. He had been away for over a year when he stepped into the ring against Teofimo Lopez on 17 October 2020 and his ring rust was apparent in the first half, as he only managed to win one round. He mounted a comeback in the next five however, before Lopez closed strong to win the last round. Despite the closeness of the bout, the judges were against Loma and gave Lopez the fight with too wide scores-one even gave Lopez 11 rounds! Loma has come back since then and on 26 June this year he dismantled Masayoshi Nakatani in 9 rounds, in his first non title fight ever. His record is currently 15 wins, 11 by ko, and 2 losses. Both his losses have question marks around them however, as most of you already know.


3. Vitali Klitschko ("Vee-tah-lee Klee-chko)


The older Klitschko brother might be less acclaimed when it comes to achievements, but he was also more popular and respected by many boxing fans. Why? Because he never was in a boring fight and always fought right on, without holding or being cautious like Wladimir in the second half of his career. Vitali was born 19 July 1971 in Belovodskoye, Kyrgyzstan, and grew up in Kiev. At first, he was a kickboxer and won the amateur championships there 6 times. The 6'7 and a half (202 cm) Klitschko began boxing first because kickboxing was illegal in Soviet Union. He won the silver at the 1995 world amateur championships, losing to Alexei Lezin on points. His record as amateur is 195-15. He was thrown off the 1996 Olympic team for using a banned substance however, so was unable to participate. He then turned pro in November that year. He scored 24 straight knockouts and also won the Euro title, before beating Herbie Hide by TKO2 for the WBO belt, in June 1999 in London. He made two successful defenses before fighting Chris Byrd in the third and after being ahead after 9 rounds, had to quit due to a torn rotator cuff, a shoulder injury in other words. He was very criticised for this, for some reason. That was on 1 April 2000 and he came back and won his first fight on points against the equally huge Timo Hoffman in November, 7 months later, also winning the European title. In December 2001, he avenged his brother's first loss by stopping Ross Purritty by TKO11 (his brother lost to Purrity the same way). After also stopping the tricky Vaughn Bean by TKO11 and Larry Donald by TKO10, he got a chance against the WBC and IBO champion Lennox Lewis. They fought on 21 June 2003 and Vitali completely dominated the first 2 rounds and gave Lewis a beating, but Lewis managed to inflict a serious cut on him with two big uppercuts/overhand rights in round 3. Although Vitali came back into the fight and was ahead going into round 7, the cut got worse and the fight was then stopped before the 7th round could begin. He lost by a TKO6. After this heartbreaking loss, he first stopped Kirk Johnson in 2 rounds, before fighting another conqueror of his brother, Corrie Sanders, for the WBO belt in April 2004. He beat Sanders into submission in 8 rounds, thus finally becoming a world champion again. However, after just one defense against Danny Williams, which he also won by TKO8, he was forced to retire due to an injury, but came back in 2008 and recaptured his WBC title by stopping Samuel Peter, then-champion, impressively in a one sided fight. Peter quit on his stool after 8 rounds. He then went on to make 9 defenses, most notably beating the 27-0 Chris Arreola by RTD10, 22-0 Kevin Johnson by UD, Shannon Briggs by UD, Tomasz Adamek by TKO10 and Dereck Chisora by UD. He retired after stopping Mahmoud Charr by TKO4 in September 2012. His record is 45 wins, 41 by ko, and 2 losses, both by retirement stoppage. He entered into IBHOF in 2018, thus becoming the first Ukrainian to get that honor.


4. Oleksandr Usyk ("Oh-lek-saan-dr Oo-seek")


So far the only undisputed world champion from Ukraine (even tho Wladimir came close), Oleksandr Usyk is the best cruiserweight of this era and one of the best of all times as well. Born 17 January 1987 in Simferopol, Crimean peninsula, the 6'3 Usyk was always known as a clever technician and also for his incredible chin. Although usually not a one-punch ko artist, he has scored some notable knockouts with only one punch, such as the one against Tony Bellew. He had a very successful amateur career and won the heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, as well as gold at the 2011 world championships and a bronze at the 2009 world championships, all as a heavyweight. His record is 335-15. He turned pro in November 2013. After winning the WBO Inter-Continental cruiser title by TKO9 against Danie Venter, in September 2016 he won the WBO title against Krzysztof Glowacki, who was 26-0 coming in and had taken the title by stopping Marco Huck. Usyk dominated Glowacki and won by a wide UD. He made his first defense by knocking out the excellent Thabiso Mchunu in 9 and then next year beat Michael Hunter by UD before taking part in the Super Series and stopping Marco Huck by TKO10 on 9 September in Germany. Next year on 27 January, he had his toughest fight so far against Mairis Briedis of Latvia and needed a majority decision to win and reach the finals. He won the finals and the tournament by outboxing and outclassing Murat Gassiev of Russia (26-0) on 21 July in Moscow. He thus became the undisputed champion, holding the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO belts-the first cruiserweight to achieve that! He only made one defense as the undisputed champion, against Tony Bellew, 10 November in Manchester. After a competitive fight, he put Bellew down in round 8 with a big left hook and stopped him. He then entered the heavyweight division in October 2019, beating Chazz Witherspoon by RTD7, before having his second hw fight against Dereck Chisora, 31 October 2020 at Wembley. He overcame an early surge by Chisora to outbox him down the stretch and win by a mostly-close UD. He is now slated to fight Anthony Joshua for his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts, 25 September at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. His current record is 18 wins with 13 ko's and no defeats. He was named The Ring Fighter of the Year in 2018 and also ESPN and Sports Illustrated gave him the same honor same year.


5. Volodymyr Sydorenko ("Voh-loh-dee-meer Seedo-renko")


The best little man from Ukraine, Sydorenko was the WBA bantam champion between 2005 and 2008 and made 6 defenses of the title. He lost the title against the best technician of the divison at the time: Anselmo Moreno. He was born 23 September 1976 in Enerhodar, southeast Ukraine. As amateur, he won the flyweight bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, defeating Daniel Ponce de Leon and Omar Andres Narvaez along the way. He also won the 1998 and 2000 European championships and won a silver at the 2001 World championships. His amateur record is 290-20. Like most Ukrainians, he went to Germany to start his professional career. His first pro fight was in November 2001 and in his 15th fight in May 2004, he defeated Joseph Agbeko (21-0 at the time) by MD12. He then fought the multiple-division champion Leo Gamez in a WBA-eliminator in October that year and won by a clear UD. He finally faced Julio Zarate of Mexico on 26 February 2005 and beat him in Hamburg, Germany, by a comfortable UD to become the WBA champion. He made his first defense against Jose de Jesus Lopez and won by UD, but in his second one he had problems against the tall southpaw Ricardo Cordoba of Panama, in the end retaining his title by a majority draw. He then scored his best victory against Prakorb Udomna (Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym) in July 2006 and took the Thai future champion's zero with an uneven UD. He faced Cordoba again in March next year and again had to settle for a draw. He then scored his only ko in a world title defense against Jerome Arnould, winning by KO7. His final successful defense came against Nobuto Ikehara, January 2008, and he again won by UD, this time in Osaka. He was finally relieved of his title on 31 May that year by Anselmo Moreno, who beat him by a rather close UD. They had a rematch on 2 May next year and this time the fight was closer, but in the end Moreno retained his title by split decision. He was pretty much a spent fighter after that and took a year off before returning in 2010. After beating one easy opponent on points, he was for the first time in his career brutally knocked out in 4 rounds by Nonito Donaire, 4 December in Anaheim, California. That was his last fight and he retired aged 34 and with a record of 22 wins, 7 by ko, 3 losses and 2 draws.


6. Serhiy Dzinziruk ("Ser-heey Djeen-zee-rook")


Known as "Dzyna", or razor, he was surely a sharp fighter and a capable boxer, but lacked the big punch perhaps. This tall junior middleweight (6 feet) captured the WBO title in 2005 and made 6 defenses of it, before being stripped of it in 2011 for not defending. Serhiy was born 1 March 1976 in Nizhnohirskyi, Crimea. As amateur, he won the 1996 bronze as a welter at the European championships in Denmark, a silver at the 1997 World championships in Hungary and a silver at the 1998 European championships in Belarus. Like Sydorenko, he was trained by Michael Timm as a pro and made his debut there in January 1999. After going 21-0, he first won the WBO Inter-Continental title against Marcelo Alejandro Rodriguez, winning by KO2. In July 2004, he stopped Mamadou Thiam by TKO3 to win the vacant European title and then defended it twice, first by Hussein Bayram by KO11 and then Jimmy Colas by UD. On 3 December 2005, he faced the WBO-champion Daniel Santos, one of the best fighters in the division back then and a strong guy who could punch. Dzinziruk dominated much of the fight with his boxing skills and put Santos down in round 8, before winning by 115-112 on all scorecards. He made his first defense against the very solid Argentinian contender Sebastian Andres Lujan and won clearly on all scorecards. In April 2008, he faced one of his best opponents, Lukas Konecny, and beat him in a very good and close fight by majority decision. In November that year, he also defeated the hard-hitting Joel Julio of Colombia by a clear UD. He made his sixth and final defense by stopping Daniel Dawson by TKO10 in May 2010. He then went up in weight to chalenge the new major star at 160-Sergio Martinez., with the vacant WBC Diamond title at stake and also The Ring title. He had to go to America for the first time and performed poorly, as Martinez's superior speed and power were too much for him and he was down five times, including three times in the 8th and last round, before the fight was over. After 37 fights, he had experienced his first loss, and a bitter one. That was on 12 March 2011 and he decided not to go back to 154 and was therefore stripped of his title in October that year. He came back to the ring after nearly 18 months and drew against the 15-0 Jonathan Gonzalez, 1 September 2012. On 25 January next year, he took on Brian Vera, a hard-hitting brawler and was once again stopped, this time in 10 rounds, after being down in the first and in the tenth. That was his last fight and he ended his brilliant career on a bad note, with a record of 37 wins, 24 by ko, 2 losses and 1 draw.


7. Andriy Kotelnik ("And-reey Kotel-neek")


So far the only Ukrainian world champ at 140, Kotelnik has captured the WBA belt in that division and most famously stopped Gavin Rees, who was undefeated at the time. Born in Lviv, western Ukraine, on 29 December 1977, Kotelnik is the only world champion from that part of Ukraine so far. He won the 1995 Junior European championships as amateur, as well as a lightweight silver medal at the 2000 Olympics. His amateur record is 135-15. The dark-haired and eyed Kotelnik turned pro at the end of 2000, initally fighting as a lightweight. Like Sydorenko and Dzinziruk, he was also based in Germany and trained by Michael Timm. After capturing the WBA Inter-Continental 140-pound title, he fought in an eliminator for the WBA main title on 21 October 2004, against French based champion Souleymane M'Baye. By many accounts, he deserved to win, but was denied the victory in France, losing by a split decision. He suffered his second loss 9 July 2005, against Junior Witter, in a fight for the European title in Nottingham-Witter won by a mostly close UD. He then beat the Olympic gold medallist Muhammadqodir Abdullaev by UD to win the WBA Inter-Continental and WBO Asia Pacific titles, on 26 November. After making two defenses, the last one by stopping William Gonzalez by TKO8, he again faced M'Baye, this time with the WBA title at stake. It was 10 March 2007 in Liverpool when Kotelnik found himself robbed again in a draw. Judge Mickey Vann scored it for him by 117-112. As M'Baye then lost the title to Gavin Rees, it was stipulated that Rees had to fight Kotelnik next. Kotelnik went to Rees' hometown of Cardiff and produced his best performance on the night of 22 March 2008, when he stopped Rees by TKO12. He got to make his first defense in Lviv, winning on points against Norio Kimura. He then faced Marcos Maidana in his second defense, unbeaten at 25-0 and a fearsome puncher and warrior. The fight was on 7 February 2009 in Rostock, Germany, and Kotelnik weathered Maidana's attacks to win by split decision. He then had to go to Manchester to defend against Amir Khan, who was taller by around 3 inches and rangier and Khan won the fight by wide scores at home., 18 July same year. Next year he went to the States for the first time to fight Devon Alexander, who held the WBC and IBF titles. It was a hard and competitive fight in St. Louis on the night of 7 August and compubox stats showed Kotelnik actually landing more punches overall, but Alexander dominated with his left jab and scored more power punches-in the end winning by 116-112 on all cards. Kotelnik retired after this but came back for one more fight in 2014, against journeyman Alexander Benidze, winning by UD8 to cement his career. His record is 32 wins, 13 by ko, 4 losses and 1 draw.


8. Artem Dalakian ("Aar-tehm Dah-laak-eean")


Another still active fighter who is so far unbeaten and along with Usyk is the only one such fighter on this list. Dalakian is ethnic Armenian who was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 10 August 1987, but has lived in Ukraine most of his life, in Dnipro(petrovsk). He started boxing at 13 but didn't have much of an amateur career as adult. He became a pro at 24, in August 2011. The 5'4 Dalakian is a hard-hitting and offensive fighter and one of the best flyweights of last decade. His first true success was beating Brian Viloria in 2018 by a clear UD to win the WBA flyweight title, and in Inglewood, California. He has so far made 4 defenses of the title, first stopping Sirichay Thaiyen by TKO8, then Gregorio Lebron by TKO5 and Sarawut Thawornkham by TKO10, before his so far last victory over Josber Perez by UD. His record is currently 20-0 with 14 ko's. His next fight will be against former world champion Luis Concepcion and he is the favorite to win it.


9. Viktor Postol ("Poh-stohl")


One of the most clever Ukrainian pro boxers, the 5'11 welterweight Postol didn't have so many elite level fights, but he has proven his quality in all of them. Viktor comes from Velyka Dymerka in northern Ukraine, where he was born 16 January 1984. As amateur, he participated at the 2004 world university championships and won a silver at the 2007 Algirdas Socikas tournament in Kaunas, Lithuania. He was trained first by Alexander Polishchuk and later by Freddie Roach. His first pro fight was in Decmber 2007. His first success was beating Yvan Mendy by UD to win the WBC International Silver light welter title in 2012. He then defeated veteran DeMarcus Corley in his first defense of it. In 2013, he beat Henry Lundy by UD to win the WBC Inter-Continental title. He defended it once by UD against Ignacio Mendoza. In 2014, he knocked out Selcuk Aydin, who had been somewhat hyped previously, in 11 rounds in Inglewood. It was on 3 October 2015 that he got to fight Lucas Martin Mathysse for the vacant WBC title and surpassed all expectations by dominating Mathysse and finally knocking him out in round 10. The high times came to an end on 23 July next year, when he fought Terence Crawford, the WBO champion, in a unification fight. The first 3 rounds were even, then Crawford took over and sent him down twice in round 5, but Postol lasted till the end and lost by wide scores. In June 2018, he went to Scotland to fight the WBC Silver champion Josh Taylor and gave him a good fight, but was cut in round 2 and down in round 10 before losing by wide scores once again. His so far last fight was against the unified former WBC and WBO champion Jose Carlos Ramirez, on 29 August 2020. Postol gave the younger Ramirez a surprisingly tough and close fight and in the end lost by majority decision. He is now 37 and his record stands at 31 wins, 12 by ko and 3 losses.


10. Oleksandr Gvozdyk ("Hwoz-deek")


His last name translates into "carnation", which sounds much softer than his ring persona is-Gvozdyk is a ko artist. The reason why he isn't rated higher, YET, is that he simply hasn't had many fights yet-but his victory over Adonis Stevenson gives him a spot on this list. Gvozdyk, whose fighting alias is "The Nail", was born 15 April 1987 in second largest city of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, where he was also raised. In the amateurs, he won the bronze at the 2012 Olympics, at light heavyweight, losing very controversially after an even fight on countback. He went to Oxnard to train as a pro and he started fighting there in April 2014, first trained by Marcos Contreras and after 2018 by Teddy Atlas. The 6'2 Gvozdyk won the vacant NABF title by impressively knocking out the rugged and experienced Nadjib Mohammedi in only 2 rounds in April 2016-knocking him out with a single right hand. He defended the title by stopping Tommy Karpency by TKO6, after being down in the first round. He also beat Isaac Chilemba by corner retirement in 8, Yunieski Gonzalez by TKO3 and finally Craig Baker by TKO6. He also won the WBO NABO title in the Gonzalez fight. In March 2018, he first won the interim WBC title against Mehdi Amar, winning clearly by UD. On 1 December that year, he faced the long-reigning WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, who was 29-1-1 and making his tenth defense. The fight was in Stevenson's hometown of Quebec City, Canada and Gvozdyk first put Stevenson down in the third, but Stevenson came back and was ahead on two of the scorecards going into round 11. It was then that Gvozdyk hit him with a 10-punch combination that put Stevenson out cold. He made one successful defense by default, when his fight against Doudou Ngumbu had to be stopped in the 5th round because of a calf injury suffered by Ngumbu. On 18 October 2019, he lost his title against Artur Beterbiev, then-IBF champion and the scourge of the division; Beterbiev's punch output and power proved too much for Gvozdyk and he was down three times in the 10th round before the fight was over. He now prepares for a comeback. His record is currently 17 wins, 14 by ko, and that 1 loss.

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