Q&A: Wladimir Klitschko
When heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko faces Kubrat Pulev on Saturday in Hamburg, Germany, he will be coming full circle by fighting in the same city he made his debut 18 years ago.
On this occasion the respected holder of the WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO, as well as THE RING magazine, heavyweight titles will be at the O2 Arena in front of legions of supporters compared to 500 who watched him fight Fabian Meza on a winter’s evening way back.
Fighting in his home away from homes is something he’s keen to do.
“It’s always exciting to fight in Hamburg,” Klitschko (62-3, 52 knockouts) told RingTV.com. “I know the crowd, the crowd knows me.”
Pulev (20-0, 11 KOs), his IBF mandatory challenger, is viewed by many as the most deserving contender.
Klitschko, now 38, has lots of respect for his Bulgarian challenger.
“I think that he is a very good fighter and that he’s still gaining experience,” Klitschko said. “And it looks like he’s very determined. He’s aggressive and he has been winning all of the fights.”
However, Klitschko warns that previous challengers have promised much but offered little when under the lights.
“I think he’s going to give me a strong challenge but you never know what is going to happen fight night,” he said. “I’ve seen different fighters promise a lot and doing a lot (prior to our fight) and then on fight night they were the total opposite.”
Klitschko-Pulev will be live on RTL in Germany, and on Eurosport in the UK, while HBO will show the fight live in America at 4:45 p.m. ET/PT.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on fighting Pulev?
Wladimir Klitschko – I think that he is a very good fighter and that he’s still gaining experience and it looks like he’s very determined. He’s aggressive and he has been winning all of the fights, maybe not by knockout, his KO percentage is not as high, but he was very dominant in all the fights.
I’m expecting a great challenge from Pulev, but how it’s going to be on fight night I can’t say that. He has been considered the number one (contender) after the champions in the heavyweight division so we’ll see how good he is. I’m excited to get in the ring.
AW – You were originally due to meet on Sept. 6, but had to reschedule due to injury?
WK – I fully recovered from my injury and I am thankful that it was not a more serious injury. Since October I resumed my training. I am feeling very good and in the best shape ever.
AW – When you watch Pulev what do you see in terms of strengths and weaknesses?
WK – He is a fighter that moves a lot, he has fast hands and he has solid size, he is like 6-foot-4. He’s a very flexible fighter, he moves his upper body, bends back a lot and he doesn’t move his head much but he’s boxing from distance and sees punches coming. For all 12 rounds he moves fast, so he has good endurance too.
AW – The fight takes place in Hamburg. You made your debut there and have fought several times there. What will it be like for you being back there?
WK – I started my professional career in Hamburg in a small arena with like 500 people maximum and it was nice to eventually be able to get a stadium fight in Hamburg and at an indoor arena. So it’s obviously something familiar to me. It’s a good friendship I would say, the fans are excited about the fight, we’re sold out. I’m excited to fight in Hamburg too.
AW – Tell us about your training camp for this fight?
WK – Usually I train in the States for the first stage of preparation then I go to Austria about a month before the fight.
We have several sparring partners on the list. I will have some amateurs and some professionals. That’s a conversation for my coach Johnathan Banks.
Simple, six days a week I’m training. As far as the days (I train). In the morning I do swimming or moving in the ring, running, bag work. In the evening usually I have tactical training.
AW – Do you have a message for Kubrat Pulev?
WK – I’ve said already to him what I want to say at the (kick-off) press conference. I don’t need you, through the media, to send a message to him. It’s always better to say thing in person. I see him as very self confident, overly self confident. But it’s good. I’m going to be challenged, and I like it and love it. I look forward to the fight.