February 22, 2000
Hamburg, February 22, 2000
Wladimir Klitschko was looking forward to a much anticipated rematch in his next fight. The heavyweight champion of Europe wanted to take revenge on American Ross Puritty, his single conqueror. However, the American turned him down and it happened that the 23-year-old Ukrainian will now fight a different rematch, one that is no less interesting, though.
In an international title fight on March 18 at Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg Wladimir Klitschko, 31-1 (29 KOs), will take on Paea Wolfgramm from Tonga, the man he defeated in the finals of the Olympic Games of Atlanta to become the super heavyweight gold medal champion. Going into the 1996 Olympic Games as a heavy underdog Wolfgramm to the surprise of many was able to reach the finals. His determined march to gold was stopped eventually by Wladimir Klitschko who outpointed his opponent in a competitive and entertaining contest.
"Wolfgramm is a real big man. We went into a clinch on one occasion and it was like clinching a tree", Klitschko remembers with a grin demonstrating it by expanding his arms like he wanted to hug an invisible mammoth tree. "But despite being so heavy Wolfgramm is relatively agile. He went after me aggressively from the opening bell and showed a lot of heart."
After the Olympic Games Wolfgramm turned professional and won his first 14 fights in a row, 12 of them by knockout. In his second year as a pro Wolfgramm suffered his to date single setback when the big 6-foot-3 man became a victim of him being overweighed. Coming into the fight at 330 lb. (150 kg) Wolfgramm ran out of steam early on and lost a decision to American Marion Wilson.
Since that night Wolfgramm won four fights in a row and consistently reduced his weight. He fought his last contest at 268 lb. (122 kg) - 62 lb. lighter than he was in his single loss. In his last three fights the islander twice went ten rounds and once eight rounds proving that his new shape decisively improved his stamina. The record of the silver medal champion of Atlanta now stands at 18-1 with 13 knockouts.
Undoubtedly the 30-year-old Wolfgramm will go into the fight against Klitschko highly motivated as it is his unique chance to take revenge on the man who kept him from winning the first gold medal ever for Tonga.