Leapai's loss is far from the end for big Queenslander
EVERONE in the business said big-hitting Aussie Alex Leapai was a "puncher's chance" of lifting the unified world heavyweight boxing title off Ukrainian Colossus Wladimir Klitschko in Germany.
The only trouble was, Leapai could not penetrate the 38 year-old champion's long reach and jab to unleash his lethal Samoan bowler punch before Klitschko hammered him so many head and body shots, the referee had no choice but to call a halt to proceedings in the fifth round after a the brave but clearly outclassed Aussie hit the canvas for a third time, almost falling through the ropes.
The most telling stat was the punches landed by both boxers. Klitschko battered Leapai with 147 while the underdog Aussie managed to hit him just 10 times.
It was nothing like Leapai's dream several years ago when he awoke from his sleep suddenly to tell his wife Theresa he had just dreamt he had won the world title by knockout.
This was no dream, this was a nightmare from the moment the muscular, Adonis-like Klitschko walked down the stairs through the smokey haze to the ring wearing a bright red coloured cape like Superman.
As the fight progressed it became obvious Klitschko was from another planet.
The brutal punishment he began dishing out to Leapai's head and face would through a series of heavy blows made it obvious to everyone the fight would be over, sooner, rather than later.
"You have truly a lion heart," a respectful Klitschko told the media throng at the post fight press conference, referring to the Australian's nickname.
"You never stopped. You were challenging, you were bold.
"You had great desire to become a champion. Not many of my opponents have that type of attitude, that type of heart.
"I could see with the fight tonight that he was looking for the right moment and he was looking for the right shot. I swear if one of those shots landed anywhere on my head, I wouldn't be sitting here."
While Klitschko's generous words will not lessen the pain or heartache for a gutted Leapai, the experience gained against such a dominant opponent in an atmosphere that was absolute electric will be something the 32 year-old can draw upon in the future if ever he gets another shot at the title.
Back in the Brisbane suburb of Logan, Leapai's modest home was packed with family and friend who had turned the lounge room into their own ringside.
His wife, Theresa though could not bring herself to watch, she hates seeing the man she loves get hit in the face.
Klitschko may have knocked Leapai down and crushed his dream of becoming Australia's first world heavyweight boxing champion but Theresa, who's been to hell and back with the father of her six children, said her husband would "always be my champion".
Klitschko confirmed his place among boxing's all-time greats with his 16th title defence but speaking through tears of relief Theresa said she was immensely proud of her husband for the courage he'd shown for their six children in becoming the first Australian fighter in more than 100 years to fight for a world heavyweight title.
"From the beginning to the end he's still a winner in my eyes. He's still my champ," said a clearly emotionally Theresa.
"He will be back, it's not the end of the line for him."
She said all of Australia should be proud of how far her husband had come since he was sentenced to six month's jail for violent assault when she was heavily pregnant with their fourth child in 2005.
"I'll try not to cry when he rings, and I will tell him how proud I am," she said.