April 12, 2000
Dariusz Michalczewski vs. Graciano Rocchigiani
WBO light heavyweight world championship
April 15, PREUSSAG Arena, Hannover
Boxing.de: You certainly look forward to April 15 with high emotions. When you think about this fight are you rather impatient or nervous?
Tiger: I don't feel differences between the excitement for this fight or some other fight. The excitement is always extreme. I'm always nervous in some certain way, no matter whether it's this rematch or a different fight. The stress for a boxer before a fight is always so extreme that you can't feel differences in your nervousness. You think about the fight all day long. You stand up with that thought and you go sleeping with it.
Boxing.de: Are you able to remain calm with somebody who called you "stupid Pole"?
Tiger: When an intelligent educated man would tell me "You are stupid" I would think about it. But when a person like Rocky is telling me something like that I just laugh about it and don't take it serious. Many people approached me and said: "Well, just this guy needs to call you 'stupid Pole'. This guy should rather just shut up." When a bright German would say that to me I would be worried. But now I just take it as a joke - a bad joke I should say!
Boxing.de: What have you done wrong in your first fight against Rocky?
Tiger: I think I boxed badly from the beginning. I over paced myself right from the start and I stepped into the ring without a game plan. I just tried to knock Rocky out right from the first minute. Chuck Talhami who was my trainer back then told me before the first bell: "Now throw a left and follow it with a right uppercut". I was completely confused because it was something we never practiced in training. I never found my rhythm in that fight.
Boxing.de: What do you want to do different this time? How did you prepare?
Tiger: In the past three and a half years I beat many world class opponents and I learned a lot. I became a different human and a different boxer. I'm a much better boxer now than I was three years ago. My preparation is more focused. And I fight differently. I'm fighting now more focused and more deliberate. Earlier I knocked my opponents out mechanically and automatically. Today I throw my punches very selective.
Boxing.de: How do you want to handle the awkward double guard of Rocky this time?
Tiger: My trainer and me adjusted to it. We practiced the right actions for that - each day, over and again. What resulted was a very effective concept. However, I'm not going to tell what I will do specifically.
Boxing.de: In case you defeat Rocky will a fight against Roy Jones finally happen?
Tiger: That fight must happen! I would look forward to fighting Roy Jones in the end of the year in Berlin. The biggest possible fight at the capital city. That would be my dream. But it doesn't really matter where the fight will happen. I would be happy to fight Jones in Las Vegas, New York or some other location either. The location doesn't matter to me. Most important is that the fight happens. If not this year then maybe in 2001.
Boxing.de: Is there an alternative fight that would be of interest for you? Maybe against countryman Sven Ottke, the IBF 168 lb. titlist?
Tiger: From the sporting point of view this would be even less attractive to me than the fight against Rocky.
Boxing.de: You have two sons: Michael (13) and Nicolas (8). Do they want to become boxers?
Tiger: Michael is thirteen and has no interest in boxing. I can't imagine Nicolas becoming a boxer either. However, my trainer Fritz thinks differently. He believes Nicolas is very talented. But in my mind the environment is not appropriate for him to become a boxer. It's because they have such a great life. I would like to see my son becoming a boxing world champion. But I know how hard it is. If I have the chance to advise him against doing it then I will. He can work out a bit but he doesn't need to become a boxer. One boxer in the family is enough. They should continue learning and improve their mind. Not everybody must become an athlete. They should become hobby athletes. Both are very intelligent boys. They are very good at school. They have the chance to continue learning because they don't have to worry about financial problems. I would love to have a son who is a professional world champion. But I couldn't bear if he would get knocked out. This would break my heart.
Boxing.de: Your first book "I'm The Tiger" will come out shortly. What is it about?
Tiger: The book tells the story of my life. It begins with me sitting in my locker room after my victory over Virgil Hill. I look back. I think about my youth, my time at school and my old friends. The book tells the story of my professional career fight by fight. It's a very interesting book that can make people laugh and make them sad. When I read the book again recently from the beginning to the end I was emotionally extremely moved and I had tears in my eyes.