EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Vitali Klitschko!
Formidable heavyweight Vitali Klitschko is the number one rated contender for Lennox Lewis’ WBC title and Roy Jones’ WBA crown. He had, supposedly, a contract set for an intriguing mega-match up of two giants with Lewis. But those plans have apparently gone awry. Now Lewis reportedly is on the verge of agreeing to terms for a fight with less dangerous Kirk Johnson in Buffalo, NY on June 21.
Suddenly Klitschko is on the outside looking in. This scenario is reminiscent of when Riddick Bowe was champion in 1992 and he had agreed to HBO to fight Lewis. However Bowe, of course, would refuse to fight Lewis, even vacating the WBC belt to avoid Lennox. Bowe instead opted to fight Michael Dokes.
Roy Jones has been ordered by the WBA to determine by April 15 if he will defend his heavyweight title against Vitali. Most observers speculate Jones has no interest in such a fight.
Now, like Lewis in ’92, it’s Klitschko who appears to be the guy nobody seems to want to fight. This past weekend Boxing Insider had the chance to interview the man at the center of all this controversy.
Boxing Insider: Do you believe Lennox Lewis would prefer not to fight you?
Vitali Klitschko: I hope that I have chance to fight against somebody if WBC gives Lewis proposal to fight Mike Tyson or me. I’ve heard information that Mike Tyson doesn’t want to fight him. And Lennox Lewis must fight me or he can lose his title. The title will be vacant if Lennox Lewis doesn’t fight me.
Boxing Insider: Considering how things have developed recently, do you sense Lewis is avoiding you?
Vitali: You know, I have some feelings. We have contracts with Lennox Lewis to fight on April 12. And Lennox Lewis cancels the contract, broke the contract. Don’t want to fight me. And I have some feelings he is afraid to fight me.
Boxing Insider: As number one contender in WBA and WBC, would you prefer to fight Lewis or Roy Jones?
Vitali: For me it’s Lennox Lewis, is much more attractive fight than Jones.
Boxing Insider: You seem very confident of defeating Lewis. What is the basis of your confidence? Did something happen on the set of Oceans Eleven to make you so confident?
Vitali: Yes, I was together with my brother. I know Lennox Lewis a long time. I saw actually all the fights, every one of the fights from Lennox. And I know him very well and I prepare for this fight a long time. And I hope we fight not in the lawsuits but that we fight actually in the ring.
Boxing Insider: Why will you defeat Lewis? What will be the difference?
Vitali: I am much younger. I am powerful and I don’t have something to lose. I am motivated very much for this fight. And I have good feeling. I have good feeling I beat him.”
Boxing Insider: Regarding your brother Wladimir. Has Wladimir ever been knocked out or hurt as badly as he was against Corrie Sanders?
Vitali: Actually, I never saw my brother knocked down or knocked out, as it was the first time. It was a horrible experience for him and a horrible experience for me. He underestimate Corrie Sanders. I know he can do much better. He lose the focus in this fight. And that’s why Wladimir lose the fight. In my opinion, if Wladimir takes rematch, in the rematch he has much better chance.
Boxing Insider: Who do you predict to win a Hopkins vs. De La Hoya fight?
Vitali: I never make the prognosis. It’s boxing. You know why boxing is interesting? Nobody know. Nobody know. Everybody starting to make speculation, who will be winner. Nobody knows who will be winner. I like Oscar De La Hoya. I like him very much, De La Hoya. He’s cool [smiles].
Boxing Insider: Who do you pick Roy Jones or Holyfield?
Vitali: Jones wins the fight. Holyfield is my idol. I like Holyfield very much. He’s very strong fighter. And he’s old. And it’s time to say goodbye for him. It’s time to stop. And Holyfield fight again and again. You know why Jones wins? Holyfield don’t have speed like Roy Jones. Roy Jones will move and make Holyfield’s legs work. Roy Jones will try his jab. Very fast. Holyfield don’t have speed.
Boxing Insider: Thank you for this interview. We wish you luck.
Vitali: Thank you very much.
(Artwork by John Murawski.)