Bowe, Tyson, Jones, Lewis, Holmes, Dundee, Steward, Don King, etc. comment about the WBC Heavyweight king Vitali Klitschko who will attempt to defend his title against Cris Arreola in Los Angeles on Saturday night…
Shannon Briggs (2004): “I like the Klitschkos. I like that guy, he showed me a lot against Kirk Johnson. I’ve got to be honest with you, I thought Kirk Johnson was going to beat him. I was a little disappointed to see Kirk’s condition that he came in. I was really disappointed to see that. But I like what I see in the Klitschkos. Believe it or not, I really didn’t like him much in that fight with Lewis. But against Johnson, I liked what I saw…I’m very impressed by Vitali. Believe it or not I am. He’s awkward but he’s a very talented, disciplined fighter. He might not be the most best looking boxer as far as his skill and all that, but he gets the job done. I’m impressed. ”
Peter Kohl (2003): “The fight (Lewis vs. Vitali) was settled originally for the 8th of December (2002). And Lewis had the chance to change the fight to February. And that was his possibility. And he changed the fight to February. And then he came in December and said, Oh no, we will not do the fight in February. We will do it definitely in April. Adrain Ogun came to Hamburg and said the deal was done for April. So. And still Vitali was not fighting. Then we get a letter from saying Lewis would give a direct rematch to Mike Tyson in June (Tyson did not accept). Lennox had three times the chance to fight Vitali. Three times the chance to fight Vitali. And now the fourth time – and he didn’t do it. And with your open mind – it’s not the money – we have the signed deal. The deal was perfect. 52 times the contracts are changing from my lawyers to Judd Burstein, back – 52 times! The contract changes! So the contract was done. They can go by the money in the contract – but they didn’t do it. They (could) offer (us) less money at least, I think. In my opinion, ask yourself, Does Lennox Lewis fight Vitali or not? That’s the reality. Four times he could fight Vitali.”
Lennox Lewis (2003): “I think Vitali has a good chance at becoming a champion – after I retire. I actually think his brother will be better than him though.”
Lennox Lewis (2003): “He hasn’t seen a boxer like me – with all my size, power and equipment. I’m going to show him what it’s like to be in there with a Class A opponent who’s not afraid of him. He’s been taking B fighters over to Germany and making spectacles of them. I’m no Mickey Mouse…In my mind he’s biting off more than he can chew. He hasn’t been through what I’ve been through. He won’t be able to take my kind of pressure…I am much more motivated for this fight against Klitschko. I am more motivated because of his size and because he has been trying to take me into court to take my title.”
Larry Holmes (2004): “Yeah, he was willing to do it (give up his eye to win the Lewis fight). That’s what you got to do. But you know what? I’d have beat on his eye till he either gave up – or his eye fell out of his head [laughs]. ‘Cause that’s the game. Lennox was not as big as this guy but he was up there to reach him with the punches. And he punches well enough to hurt him. It’s just that I don’t think he wanted to take that risk again. He knows that boy gonna fight him again – and he gonna fight him even harder this time. I think they both learned something from each other that night.”
Wladimir Klitschko (moments after his brother KOed Kirk Johnson in 2003): “I was SO impressed. He didn’t give Kirk Johnson any chance. And I think it was that my brother was so focused and prepared. And I’m proud of him actually, because I think to fight in Madison Square Garden, the main event, and to win the fight so impressive, right now, we don’t need the title. He’s a People’s Champion, I believe 100%. And if Lennox Lewis – he can’t see a bad fight tonight. He will want to retire than fight Vitali again.”
Riddick Bowe (ranking the heavyweight division in 2004): “Well, start with Vitali Klitschko. Start with him. I think he doesn’t have anybody to put any pressure on him. So he does what he wants. He’s big, very strong, he likes to stay in his comfort zone. And by him being in his comfort zone, he beats birds off them boys. The second best would be probably Byrd…”
Roy Jones (2004): “I’m impressed by the usage of (Vitali’s) jab. That’s what a tall fighter should do. That Klitschko jab is a beautiful weapon tonight.
Jim Lampley (following Wladimir’s loss to Brewster in 2004): “Now Vitali has a big, big burden on his back. He has to come uphold the family spirit. If he doesn’t come show that these two giants can be real, that something can come from them, to make somebody believe in them, then their family is gonna be ashamed. I mean, both of them are gonna make the division look bad. So he has to prove to them that they got what it takes – to stand up and take it when the going is tough. If not, how can they ever say that they could ever become Heavyweight champion and really dominate the world? It won’t happen.”
Larry Merchant (2004): “Vitali Klitschko doesn’t get enough credit for how intelligent he fights, because he knows when to throw at the target and when to throw through the target.”
Roy Jones (2004): “…beautiful short left hook. That’s what I like about Vitali staying on the outside and landing these kind of punches…I like to see Vitali box like that, Jim, outside he throws a hook/uppercut – then comes back with hooks. You don’t see big guys do stuff like that too often…That’s why I’m so impressed with him
Don King (2005): “Oh yes, the Klitschkos. They got to learn how to fight. Period. But I’ll tell you one thing – they’re great human specimens. And I’d be happy to be able to work with them. If they chose to work with me. They had an opportunity when they got free of Peter Kohl – they didn’t come to me. You know, I’m with who’s with me. And I really don’t care what fighter it is. I would be happy to promote them..Who could beat Vitali? Rahman could beat Vitali. His style is suited to beat Vitali….
“King when asked if he was impressed by Vitali’s performances vs. Lewis, Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders or Danny Williams? “(Against) Lewis he got knocked out. He made a name because he stood up. Everybody likes to see a man stand up. Lewis [King begins to shout] WAS IN THE WORST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE. And under the worst conditions he beat the shit out of Klitschko. Under the worst condition. How you gonna make him a winner when he’s a loser? It’s strange how you try to make a winner out of losers.”
He was winning the fight against Lewis.
King is practically yelling now: “Yeah but he lost the fight in a fight! Eye cut, broken jaws, blinking in the eye – all that’s part of the hurt business. It didn’t say except this, except that. All that’s a part of the whole thing. I seen Rocky Marciano with his nose split low to the bone. The referee said, I got to stop it Rocky, I got to stop it! Rocky said, Give me one more round. He gave him one more round and he knocked out Ezzard Charles. That’s the fight business, man! You can’t make no excuses for the Klitschkos. He got his ass whupped.”
Amilcar Brusa (Trainer of Carlos Monzon, 2005): “Vitali’s a great champion and a great person. I’m very impressed with him. I met him and got to talk with him. They were admired by all the people who saw them here. Their style is very European, the Klitschkos put their opponents in the danger zone.”
Angelo Dundee (2004): “He was on the way to becoming champion against Lennox Lewis, the fight shouldn’t have been stopped. But, you know, that’s boxing sometimes. The cut wasn’t in a dangerous place. It wasn’t bleeding into the eye. The younger brother, in my mind, is the better fighter. He’s got so many tools, he throws straight punches. Especially that left hand. He must be a converted southpaw.”
Emanuel Steward (2005): “He does have the skill. And he’s very effective in an awkward way. He has an unusual gift that I’ve watched it in training, that really sets him out greatly. Not from being big, he has a little bit of the clumsiness to a degree, he’s not as physically coordinated as his younger brother. But he has this unusual sense of feeling a punch before it comes – but can still move in an awkward direction as far as to neutralize it – and throwing a weird punch at the same time. I saw him do that in the gym so effectively. And its something that can’t be taught. You can just feel the guy getting ready to throw a left hook and he’ll throw a counterpunch, like, from underneath the left hook and move his body at angles that I haven’t seen. And that’s what makes him effective. He’s very effective with that style.”
Stacy McKinley: “Vitali Klitschko is probably the best thinking fighter heavyweight since Muhammad Ali. He’s a very smart, intelligent fighter. Very smart,” said McKinley last week in an interview we did in New York City. “He can box, he can throw punches from all angles. He can move. He can take a punch. He’s tall. He’s busy. He’s very hard to hit. Good thinker. Oh, he’s a helluva thinker.”
McKinley got a close up view of the WBC Heavyweight champion in Berlin last year while working with Samuel Peter. “That’s what I said when I fought him with Samuel Peters. I said, Don’t try to think with this guy. Don’t try to out-box or out-think this guy. Get in there and fight this guy. But he want to sit back and try to out-think him. You can’t do it. And I told him, He’s probably the smartest heavyweight I’ve seen in the ring since Muhammad Ali. And I’ve seen a lot of good fighters. Larry Holmes and all them were good fighters but they weren’t good thinkers. This guy Vitali is a great thinker. It seems like he knows what you’re gonna do before you start to do it. So he’s very, very, very cagey. I don’t think nobody can beat him.”
When I ask which fight or fights of Vitali were most impressive which convinced him to become a believer, he replies, “Well, the Lennox Lewis fight. The left-hander he fought that beat his brother (Corrie Sanders). All these guys he fought. He’s just so smart. He moves good. A real intelligent fighter.”
Then I suggest something many pundits have not yet begun to accept or contemplate. Is Vitali one of the heavyweight greats of all time? McKinley does not disagree. “One of the greats and that’s what I said. I told him. I haven’t seen one that smart since Muhammad Ali. I told him after the fight with Peters, post press conference. Smartest I’ve seen as far as thinking. Most of the guys can’t think that well. He’s just great, man, a great thinker. Since Muhammad Ali. He’s that smart.”
Does Cristobal Arreola have any chance to beat Vitali? “No,” replies McKinley without a hint of doubt. “Three or four rounds he might get knocked out. He can’t beat that kid. Standing up too straight, he ain’t got the chin or the skills. This guy, like I tell you, he knows what he’s doing. And I was talking to his brother Wladimir, he was down in Miami. I said, Have you and your brother ever sparred together?
“Wladimir said, No, we’re too competitive. I said, Let me tell you something. That’s a smart boy. He said, Yeah, he’s very hard to fight. I said, You don’t have to tell me. He’s very hard. He’s the best heavyweight out there. I don’t think anybody can beat him.”
Does McKinley believe Vitali is the superior heavyweight fighter to Wladimir? “Oh yeah. He’d knock Wladimir out. Wladimir’s got good, basic fundamentals but he couldn’t do nothing with that kid. Kid’s too good, man. And I knew we were gonna have a hard fight with Samuel Peters. I said, Go in and put pressure on, cut the ring off and fight him. Don’t think with him. Don’t try to out-box him. Because you can’t out-think him. You’ve got to fight him. But he tried to think and you saw what happened. It was no contest. He quit.”
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