Undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (63-3, 53 KOs) stopped Bulgarian strongman Kubrat Pulev (20-1, 11 KOs) in round five Saturday night at the O2 World Arena in Hamburg, Germany.
The defense was the 17th in succession for Klitschko, who trails only Larry Holmes, who had 20, and Joe Louis, with 25.
The fight got off to a fast start. Pulev came out aggressively. He used an open stance to fire wide punches. He wanted to rough up Klitschko. Years ago this strategy might have worked.
Klitschko,38, clinched and looked for an opening. Pulev connected with a right hand. After another clinch, Klitschko ducked inside and landed a sharp left hook that floored Pulev for the first time in his career.
The big man pulled himself up, but was soon on the canvas again. A few seconds later, Klitschko landed a right hand that shook Pulev badly.
Pulex,33, survived round two, but the next heat was a different story.
Klitschko stung Pulev with more left hooks. Pulev tried to jab to the body. Klitschko bounced on his toes and let fly with a big right hand. Pulev wobbled. Another blow put Pulev down for the third time.
In round four, Puilev, who was still full of fight, landed a combination that surprised Klitschko. The champion snapped off his telephone pole like jab. The center of the ring was all his. Another left hook landed.
Klitschko came out with bad intentions in round five. He connected with a hard right.
Pulev waved his left hand like a wand, but sadly it lacked any magic. He did land a solid right, but the Klitschko chin held up.
Klitschko jumped in with a huge left hook that put Pulev down for the last time.
The time was 2:11 of round five.
The victory was the most impressive that Klitschko has produced in years. Instead of playing it safe, after being hit, Klitschko wanted to mix it up.