Wladimir Klitschko had his way with challenger Alexander Povetkin on Oct. 5 in Moscow -- there is no debate about that. But the manner in which he did it drew a good degree of criticism in the media and on message boards.
I reached out to Wladimir, 37, who called me from Hamburg to discuss the bout, and gave his reaction to the critiques.
"Boxing is an art, and I will defend my style," said Klitschko, without an edge of defensiveness in his voice. "I understand, a lot of people have different opinions about how I fight, and some might say it's boring. That's nothing new. But I am thankful to you for the criticism -- you have to pay attention to it -- and I will continue to defend the titles as long as I'm enjoying it."
I asked Wladimir (61-3, 51 KOs) if he found himself during the unanimous decision victory over the 34-year-old Povetkin (26-1, 18 KOs), or after, or both, thinking about what late trainer Emanuel Steward might have said. Steward protégé Johnathan Banks worked Klitschko's corner against Povetkin, the third time he had done so since Steward died last October.
"Yes," the heavyweight champ said with a chuckle. "Emanuel would always say, 'Just go knock this m-----f----- out. Especially during Rounds 7 and 8, I could kind of hear his voice. And I would've answered, 'Emanuel, what do you think I'm trying to do? I'm trying!"
Klitschko, for the record, apologized for using that profanity.
Povetkin surprised him, he said, by not fading, and that's why he fought, perhaps, in the manner he did. Klitschko wanted to control his opponent's head, and that's why he didn't aim for the body much. But, he noted, "I know what I'm doing in the ring. I didn't get hit once. Try and run five miles and not sweat! To be fighting a world champion, and not get hit!
"But I understand I could be better. I will work on it and try to make it better next time," he said.
And when might that be, and versus whom, and where, pray tell?
Names that have been mentioned include Kubrat Pulev, Denis Boytsov and Cris Arreola. "And obviously Deontay Wilder as well," Klitschko said.
Mandatory defenses for the various sanctioning bodies will need to be sorted out. "We are getting all of our cards on the table," he said.
I wondered if we might see Klitschko fight next in the U.S., especially considering that the Broadway show he's helping produce, "Rocky on Broadway," kicks off next March.
"It's been one of my dreams to fight back in the States," he said. (Wlad last scrapped in the U.S. in February 2008, against Sultan Ibragimov in New York.) "I know Madison Square Garden is always welcoming."
TV would have to be settled, he said, with HBO and Showtime being the two likeliest suitors to give a platform to a Wladimir bout.
"March is a good month," he said. "I hope to see you guys back in the U.S. for a show."