The Pugilist

Vitali Klitschko: A memorable career in pictures

Though, technically, former heavyweight champion of the world Vitali Klitschko is merely stepping away from boxing for the time being to concentrate on his political career, there is a very strong chance that, at 42, the Ukrainian really is calling it a career.

He and brother Wladimir, who currently holds every heavyweight world title other than the WBC edition his elder sibling has just vacated, are often ridiculed by critics for dominating an era of the sport at their weight class which has been a shell of what heavyweight fighting used to be.

And yet, looking back at the decade-plus of Vitali's ring time, we cannot help but find countless memorable fights and moments nonetheless.

So here is a look back at Doctor Ironfist's defining moments, and here's hoping he does indeed decide to return to the ring for a proper send-off at some point.

1) TAKE THAT! Vitali lands a clean one on Obed Sullivan in 1999, during his first world title reign as WBO kingpin.

2) BOXER, POLITICIAN, ACTOR - The Klitschkos and Lennox Lewis during filming of a fight scene for Oceans Eleven.

3) HOW CAN I PUT THIS AROUND MY WAIST? - Vitali receives a boxer of the year award immediately after seeing off Larry Donald.

4) YOU WANNA GO, BORIS? - Tennis legend Becker swaps notes with the brothers.

5) ALL-OUT WAR - Lewis handed Vitali his second, and final, defeat - but it was a career-defining bout for a man who gave the Brit a huge scare.

6) THIS IS FOR MY BROTHER - Avenging Wladimir's shock defeat to the late Corrie Sanders.

7) DROPPING THEM LIKE BAD HABITS - Danny Williams rode his Tyson-beating momentum right into Vitali's unforgiving fists in 2004.

8) NOT JUST A BOXING TORCHBEARER - With US Olympic gold medallists Janet Evans and Rafer Johnson as well as actor Tom Cruise.

9) A REMARKABLE RETURN - After four years out, having snapped his leg and announcing his retirement, Vitali immediately returns to championship status by beating Samuel Peter.

10) SUCH A PRANKSTER - Larking around during pre-fight hype for a successful defence over Juan Carlos Gomez in 2009.

11) MIND YOUR NOSE - Shannon Briggs feels the wrath of Vitali in 2010.

12) SAY CHEESE! - Vitali and Albert Sosnowski have some fun publicising their title fight - and yes, that is Schalke 04's stadium.

13) HE'S HAD ENOUGH - Tomasz Adamek reels on the ropes as Klitschko retains again.

14) DURING HAPPIER TIMES - Initial promotion of Dereck Chisora's title crack went 'cushty' enough...

15) SLAP HEARD AROUND THE WORLD - ...but it descended into chaos on fight week. Nonetheless, Vitali decisioned Chisora in Germany.

16) CRIMSON MASK - The referee quite rightly withdraws Manuel Charr in Klitschko's final bout to date, 2012.

17) FAMILY LEGACY - This picture, however, sums up the career of both Klitschko brothers better than any other really could.