April 7, 2000
Berlin/New York, April 7. Lou Di Bella, sports vice president of the American Pay-TV channel HBO, revoked his devastating criticism on heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko in an interview at the website Fightnews.com.
Di Bella who is considered by insiders as the most influential person in the boxing business had come to Berlin to watch Dr. Vitali Klitschko fight against Chris Byrd for the WBO heavyweight world title in Berlin. When a shoulder injury forced Vitali Klitschko to stop fighting after round nine Di Bella addressed devastating criticism into the direction of the Ukrainian athlete and even included Vitali's younger brother Wladimir in his negative comments. It was a sudden turnaround from Di Bella who prior to that weekend was full of compliments for both Klitschko brothers.
In the meantime it became obvious that Dr. Vitali Klitschko's injury that kept him from continuing fighting in Berlin was real and very serious. Yesterday Dr. Klitschko underwent surgery at the rotator cuff of his left shoulder for one hour and 45 minutes at a hospital in Hamburg. According to surgeon Dr. Hedtmann the big Klitschko brother will be sidelined for many months.
Now Di Bella made a turnaround again: "Wladimir Klitschko is not his brother. You can't stereotype the potential of Wladimir against the performance of Vitali", Di Bella told Fightnews.com. "Let's be fair. No one should criticize one boxer because his brother didn't live up to expectations. You can't predict what Wladimir is going to do in the ring off of the performance of Vitali."
"We are happy to have Wladimir on the undercard of Lewis and Grant", Di Bella added referring to the plans of Wladimir Klitschko probably fighting on a card in New York on April 29 where heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis defends his title against top rated Michael Grant.
"Wladimir is an unknown factor in the heavyweight division and could be the next superstar. We are hoping to get Wladimir matched with someone on April 29th that can showcase his tremendous talent."
"But let's be fair. Everybody is quick to criticize Wladimir based on the performance of Vitali. Wladimir is a different person, a different fighter. Wladimir is a likely opponent for Chris Byrd because he is the #2 challenger behind Mike Tyson. And Wladimir will learn from the mistakes of his brother. I can guarantee you that if Chris and Wladimir meet in the ring it will be a different ending than the night Byrd fought Vitali."