November 9, 1999
He's 6' 7," 250 pounds and winner of the Gold Medal at the 1996 Atlanta
Olympics. With a record of 29-1, 27KOs, Wladimir Klitschko, the younger
brother of undefeated WBO heavyweight champion, Vitali, returns to the United
States when he meets power-puncher, Phil Jackson (42-8, 38KOs) on November
12, in Las Vegas - the eve of Holyfield-Lewis II. Here is a chance for fight
fans to meet this 23-year-old, Unkrainian wonder in a special interview.
Klitcshko, who turned professional in November 1996, won his first 24
contests, 22 by knockout, before suffering a surprise 11th round, TKO
stoppage at the hands of American Ross Purity in December 1998. Klitcshko,
winner of his previous 5 fights by knockout, emerged as boxing's elite when
he erased all doubt of his ability by stopping German, Axel Schultz within
eight rounds in September.
Klitcshko, who is ranked No. 4 by the WBA and No. 5 in the WBC, waits his
chance to fight for the world title. In fact, Vladimir hopes to join his
brother Vitali, who kayoed Herbie Hide for the World Boxing Organization
title, as the first and only brother-combo to have held world championships
in the same weight division.
Without further delay, here is Vladimir....
Q: Hello Vladimir. As the 1996 Olympic Gold Medallist, you're only loss was
to Ross Purity. However, you came back strong last month to easily dispose of
Axel Schultz. Was your win over Schultz total redemption, or will a rematch
with Purity provide you with such glee?
A: "My defeat against Ross Puritty and my victory over Axel Schulz were the
most important fights of my career. I think it was a great advantage for me
to lose one fight. I feel more stabile now. I know that I made a couple of
mistakes before and after the loss we repeated some and changed some of my
exercises and wiped out those mistakes. But I want more than what I
accomplished so far and I believe people could see that my technique and my
tactic have become different in the last months."
"The fight against Schulz was a great experience for me. Never before I
fought in such a huge arena. It was kind of like in Kiev. And I met Ross
Purity again. I saw him at the fight press conference and I noted that I felt
like a pot of water that starts to boil. I realized that I became excited and
I was close to rush at him."
"But I knew that was exactly what they wanted me to feel like. So I
controlled myself. I think it was a mistake from Schulz' handlers to bring
Purity to his corner. It rather motivated me and made me very mad and I
believe I released even more energy because of that. I'm still burning to get
a rematch against Purity. He is everything but my ultimate aim, but I want
that rematch for personal reasons."
"It's a great honor for me to fight in the US again. It's the second time
that I come to fight in America as a professional. It's a very significant
step for me before I might get a world title shot next year."
"After my fight on 12th November in Las Vegas against Phil Jackson I might
fight once more in December in Germany, defending my European title. After
that I want to make a rest of four months, because it will already be my 31st
fight in only three years. I want to give my body a little rest."
Q: You impressed a lot of writers here in America when you stopped Schulz,
who won our hearts with his gutsy 12-round stand against George Foreman in
'95. How important is it for you to impress those the world over?
A: "We are always looking forward. We have a lot of big fights in front,
because we both want to become world champions. We have a dream: Two brothers
who are world heavyweight champions at the same time. Never something similar
has happened in the game of boxing. And it's no crazy illusion anymore.
Vitali already is champion and I'm close to get my world title shot next
year. That would be one of the greatest sensations in boxing ever."
Q: Although you both are marketed closely together, how close are you really
to your brother Vitali?
A: "That's an interesting question. I wasn't asked that before. Well, we have
separate apartments. Vitali lives with his wife; I live in my own apartment.
But we are brothers and we have a good relation. We would never fight against
each other. Vitali is always standing in my corner when I fight and I stand
in his corner when he does. We recently found out that is also a great help
at the stare down before the fight. Our opponents are always confronted with
two pairs of bad looking eyes who stare them down. Vitali will also come to
America when I fight in Vegas."
Q: What's the difference between you and Vitali, both inside and outside the
A: "We look similar, but we are different inside. Vitali is four years older
so we are no twins either. Either of us has a different boxing style. We have
different techniques and different tactics. Vitali is one inch taller than I
am. But altogether we have a lot of fights in common."
Q: Holyfield-Lewis II: Who wins and why?
A: "I think this will become an interesting fight. Holyfield will try very
hard. Both have a lot of power. Lewis is the favorite to me, but Holyfield
certainly has his chance. I would make it 55:45 in favor of Lewis."
Q: Are you impressed with Lewis?
A: "He's an excellent athlete. Very experienced and mature. He has seen a lot
of things in his career. But you have to look at the history of boxing to
understand: Every fighter has his time. Tyson had his time when he was 20 to
25. After that he spend more time in prison than at the gym. Lewis best time
is now that he is 30 years old and at the end of his career. So every fighter
has his time. It is always the same mistakes people are making. You have to
be careful and not make all the same mistakes again. You must know when you
have to stop boxing. I believe it is a good decision from Holyfield to make
this fight his last one, like Axel Schulz who said he would hang up his
gloves after he fought me."
"I know my time will come. And I will have a very strong time as a world
champion. It's hard competition. Everybody tries to find your weaknesses."
Q: Wouldn't you be disappointed if Holyfield hangs up his gloves so you could
never fight against him?
A: "Of course to eat that kind of a cake nobody would turn down. To fight
against a man who wrote history is all you can hope for. But now a new
generation is coming: Lennox Lewis who remains very strong, my brother Vitali
and Michael Grant. I will join that group very soon."
"I have great respect for Rocky Marciano. It was a great story, even though a
sad one. He retired undefeated and never made a comeback. Unfortunately he
became the victim of a plain crash later."
Q: Following the Tyson fiasco with Orlin Norris, when would be a perfect and
time for you to meet Tyson?
A: "Nobody ever impressed on the game of boxing the way Tyson did. At every
of his fight something unusual happens. Before the fights he uses to pretend
that he changed and that he became a better human. But nobody can just change
his character. But everybody like to watch him, because everybody wants to
see that guy who bites his opponents or hits after the break. 'Perhaps next
time he bites his opponent's nose' people might ask and again the pay the $50
pay-per-views fee. It doesn't matter whether Tyson fights a strong or a weak
opponent. They all wait for what he will be doing next."