OBERHAUSEN, Germany - Wladimir Klitschko rained punches on an outclassed Alex Leapai then showered him with praise after shattering the Australian's world heavyweight title dream.
The fight was every bit as one-sided as many feared, with the giant Klitschko landing 147 punches to Leapai's 10 as he floored him three times en route to a fifth-round knockout in Oberhausen, Germany.
Leapai later vowed to continue fighting and Klitschko, who extended his 10-year winning streak to 20 bouts as he retained his four world titles, lauded the brave Queenslander, saying he lived up to his nickname of Lionheart.
"You had great desire to become a champion," he said. "Not many of my opponents have that type of attitude, that type of heart."
He was convinced Leapai would remain a force in the division despite the hammering.
"I could see with the fight tonight that he was looking for the right moment and he was looking for the right shot," Klitschko said.
"I swear if one of those shots landed anywhere on my head I wouldn't be sitting here.
"He's 110 kilos of pure muscle and power, so I'm sure that Alex can show a lot of challenging and can defeat a lot of fighters in the heavyweight division."
But the Ukrainian was far too ringwise to allow Leapai to land the one big right-hand punch that could have created a huge boilover.
Klitschko utilised his massive reach advantage, constantly picking off his much shorter challenger with laser-like jabs and landing hurtful right-hand shots.
When Leapai finally did tag Klitschko in the fifth, it galvanised the champion, who promptly floored him twice to end the bout.
Leapai's trainer and manager Noel Thornberry said his charge would have a month off, but he expected no shortage of prospective opponents.
"People are going to want to step up over Alex because he's been there, he's fought for that world title," Thornberry told AAP.
"'Everyone wants to say, 'I fought the guy that fought for the world heavyweight title' or 'I beat that guy', so Alex has got something to defend himself.
"It might not be the heavyweight championship of the world, but if he's going to continue his career, he's got to continue winning.
"From a promotional perspective, everyone is going to be saying 'get Leapai.'"
Neither Thornberry or Leapai offered any excuses for the loss.
Leapai said Klitschko's movement made it hard for him to land his power shots.