Media Interview w/ Vitali Klitschko
World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion VITALI KLITSCHKO (43-2, 40 KOs), of Kiev, Ukraine, defends his title against world-rated contender Dereck Chisora (15-3, 9 KOs), of London, England This Saturday! February 18, in Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany. Klitschko vs. Chisora kicks off the first of three heavyweight title fights, which will be broadcast live to the U.S. on three consecutive Saturdays, exclusively on EPIX, the multiplatform premium entertainment service. EpixHD.com will stream the fights live as part of a special free trial offer for boxing fans. The EPIX live telecast and the EpixHD.com live stream will begin at 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT.
Travis Pomposello: I’d like to start off by just taking a look back in time for EPIX. March 19th, 2011, EPIX launched its boxing program, with Vitali Klitschko defending his title against No. 1 contender Odlanier Solis, which was a real honor and privilege for us in our inaugural fight.
That fight, of course, didn’t go the way anybody wanted it to, especially Solis, and it’s a year later and we have the privilege of being back on the air with Vitali Klitschko defending his heavyweight title against Dereck Chisora, which is the kickoff, to our trilogy of heavyweight championship fights on three consecutive weekends.
When we aired our original fight on March 19th; although that fight you know didn’t last much more than a round, we really got our answer about starting a boxing program on EPIX by having over 100,000 people log in to watch the live stream of that fight in the U.S. on EpixHD.com. Here we are, a year later, strong in the boxing business, with these three heavyweight championship fights and having Vitali back on our air, just about a year later; defending his title and an opponent that we think will be a quality fight this time round.
Tom Loeffler: We’re really excited over here, being in Germany. We just had the open workout today, where Vitali and Dereck Chisora were both in the ring. It was a great turnout. There were over 1,000 people at the Mercedes dealership, here in Munich. It’s one of their flagship locations. And we had a couple hundred tickets left before the open workout and now it’s completely sold out. The capacity at the Olympiahalle over here; it’s the old Olympic stadium in Munich. It’s 12,500 and it’s completely sold out as of today.
So everyone’s excited about the fight. Everyone in Europe saw the fight that Dereck Chisora put on against Robert Helenius. In fact EPIX broadcast that fight live to the U.S., so there’s a lot of excitement. In fact, the way he fought against Helenius shows he’s a real challenger for the heavyweight title that Vitali holds.
Vitali’s proven himself with his knockout percentage and Vitali’s the type of fighter that doesn’t just win fights; he wins rounds. He rarely loses a round during a fight and he’s got such a high knockout percentage; he always brings a lot of excitement in the ring.
At this point though, I’d like to introduce another one of our K2 fighters. He’s fighting as the co-feature on the show and we’re excited that EPIX is also broadcasting his fight. It’s a 12-round heavyweight fight. It’s Jonathan Banks out of Detroit, Michigan. He’s defending his NABF title. Johnathan’s rated number 5 in the WBC and he’ll be fighting Nicolai Firtha from Akron, Ohio. So you have two U.S. fighters fighting over here and we’re excited about that fight as the co-feature on the show.
I’d like to introduce Jonathan at this point.
Jonathan Banks: I’m fighting on the feature on the undercard. I am looking forward to fighting on EPIX. This has been a great energy for me. I’ve been training off the EPIX energy since I heard about the fight and I’m looking forward to it.
Vitali Klitschko: Good morning, good afternoon; I don’t know what time it is now in the United States. Outside here in Munich it is so cold and snowing but it is a warm atmosphere. The arena is sold out and everybody is excited to see the fight Saturday night. Klitschko defends the title against Chisora and actually it is a pretty warm atmosphere. So many people are traveling from (all over the world); from United States, from Great Britain, from Russia and everybody is excited and everybody knows it will be a very interesting fight.
Q: What’s your motivation for this fight, because it seems clear that you’re the better fighter? What’s your motivation for this fight?
Vitali Klitschko: You know what (it’s by) the fighter. It’s a belief. (Please) don’t underestimate Chisora. He’s young, very aggressive; he’s very hungry and he wants to be World Champion very much. I was very impressed when I saw his last fight against Robert Helenius.
Before their fight everybody would talk about Helenius like he was the next world champion and yes, of course; I saw the last fight and everybody (loved) Chisora. Chisora may have lost the decision, but many experts who saw the fight, saw Chisora dominate the fight. He beat Helenius, but in split decision, Helenius won.
After this fight, I (called) to my manager and told him I want to fight this guy. This will be very good challenge for me. This will be really interesting fight for – not just for audience; but for me, because I need a challenge. And my thoughts, my opinion; I (can’t) fight a nobody. I need a challenge. I want to fight the strongest challenger and Chisora is one of them and I’m more than sure the fight Saturday night will be very, very interesting.
I feel that; I smell that. He deserves my respect from Klitschko. He wants very much to be the world champion. I am giving him the chance and let’s see if he can use this chance or not.
Q: Have you changed anything about your training in preparation for this particular fight, because of how he did against Helenius in his last fight?
Vitali Klitschko: Yes, of course. I use different sparring partners and because Chisora has a totally different style than Sosnowski and Sosnowski was pretty fast, and has a different technique and that is (why) I changed my preparation. But believe me; I will be in good form. I understand how important this fight is and I understand it’s very dangerous. He’s very good fighter and I don’t want to make a mistake.
Q: I note this in the picture and the press conference between the two of you. I mean both of you are smiling and laughing and hugging each other like you were brothers and I notice that in all your other fights. What’s your view about all the challengers you face and how do you – are you friends? I mean do you like Chisora? Will that be – will that make it difficult for you to knock him out? But basically, what do you think about sportsmanship? How do you view your opponents and why are you so friendly in the press conferences?
Vitali Klitschko: All I know about Chisora is his professional career. He has a good chin, and he has good boxing quality. We make small talk. Chisora was friendly. It’s nothing personal; just business.
My career is just business, boxing, sports; nothing personal. And that’s why I smile at him.
Q: Vitali, I agree with the last caller; you have been a terrific champion, so congratulations on that. What do you think of the career you have had? How would you rate your career, the way it’s gone so far?
Vitali Klitschko: You know it’s difficult to say that now, because my career is not over. It’s – if I make – if I make (last) fight and (after) I retired, I can explain exactly about my career; I may call you. But right now, I try to do my best in my career. This was not easy; sometimes up, sometimes down. But anyway, for right now; what I mean right now is that all heavyweights need good opponents, good contenders, a good, a good fight.
And that is why I try to find fighters who have really good skills, who are very tough. The young guys don’t build big names, but they have good skills to become a champion. And one of them is Dereck Chisora; he is tough, young and aggressive, has a lot of very good technique, good chin and that is why I fight against the strongest ones. It’s what my career is about. It’s always very difficult to talk about myself. It’s you, as boxing experts, who know about that (maybe) better and you can be objective; much more objective than me.
Q: OK. That’s fair enough. So how much longer do you plan on fighting, Vitali?
Vitali Klitschko: I had a dream. I have a dream it’s always I had a dream because without dreams, life is boring. And I have my sport dream and I don’t want to talk about this dream. I am superstitious and that is why I don’t want to tell you about this dream. And this dream keeps me active in boxing and motivates me to keep going into the ring. But if you see my last fights, I have given a good performance, with good results and I knock out all of my opponents. I stopped everyone and that is why I am still active in sports and continuing my career.
Q: I was at your fight against Arreola and I know you dominated him, but in his last few fights, he’d lost a lot a weight and gotten himself in better shape. I know he’s the number 1 contender right now in the WBC. Would you like to fight him again?
Vitali Klitschko: Why not? Arreola is top fighter; it was very interesting fight in Los Angeles Staples Center and if Arreola can be ready for this fight, I would be happy to give him second chance.
Q: It seems like you haven’t really had a true challenge since
you fought Lennox Lewis in 2003. Do you see any true challenges out there on the heavyweight horizon? Chisora could possibly be a challenge, but you seem to have just breezed through your competition since then. Do you see anything on the horizon that excites you in this division?
Vitali Klitschko: You know (it) is – it’s very difficult to compare Arreola with Lennox Lewis. Lennox Lewis was a big star; he was big star. Right now, all the big stars have retired and Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson are not there, Lennox Lewis is not there. No big names and that’s why everyone from the new generation who challenge the Klitschkos gt stopped. Any moment there can be a new guy and he can be tough, and he can give us a tough challenge. And one of them is Dereck Chisora.
Q: Have you seen Seth Mitchell fight?
Vitali Klitschko: I’m sorry; I haven’t seen him fight.
Q: Mitchell is a young heavyweight; an American heavyweight who seems to be up and coming and could provide a challenge. But my question to you is does it make you feel a little bit sad that you have gone through your brilliant career for the last almost decade and have not really had a true challenge (and) the heavyweight division, with the exception of your brother, really has appeared to be somewhat barren. Does that sadden you at all?
Vitali Klitschko: You’re right and not. For a real challenge, it would have to be somebody who can beat a Klitschko. But we don’t give anyone a chance inside the ring; we leave no room for doubt that we are stronger than our opponents. That is why everybody is talking about a crisis in boxing because no can beat us.
No, it’s not crisis, although somebody told us the name of the crisis is the Klitschko Brothers, because nobody can beat the Klitschko Brothers. Everybody wants to see a new name rise up to a new challenge, where in any moment that someone from a younger generation who has good skills, who is very motivated and who doesn’t have fear can make a serious charge. And in my personal opinion, Dereck Chisora is big challenge for me I smell that in this fight.
This fight will be not easy. This fight will be a real good challenge for me and I will do my best to beat Dereck Chisora and yes. Every fighter needs time to build his name by fighting better opponents. That’s how my brother and I did it.
But anyone has a chance. We are ready to fight anyone in the heavyweight division and we’re doing that together (as brothers).
Q: My question for you is not so much about this specific fight, but I know, and we talked about it the other day, that you’re in your training camp, along with your brother, Wladimir, because you’re getting ready for your fight this weekend and he’s getting ready for a fight in very close proximity in two weeks.
And so since both of you have made it very clear, for obvious reasons, that you’re not going to fight each other; we all understand that. I wonder, when you’re sitting around with him and you’re talking and you’re in camp and you’re making conversation, do you ever compete with him or him with you from the standpoint where you may say OK, we’re not going to fight each other, but you know what? I’m going to knock out my opponent quicker than you’re going to knock out your opponent. Or I’m going to perform better against my guy than you will in your fight? And have, like do you keep score in that sense in – as a – since you’re not going to actually fight each other
Vitali Klitschko: It’s very good question. It’s always a competition; any sportsman, any fighter has a personal ego, sports ego. And that why the competition between us as two brothers; we have a competition. Who is better? Right now we work together; we work together in training camp and so yes. We try to play in training camp who is better at table tennis; ping-pong. Who is better? We swim – we swim.
I remember always when we were running, who will finish first? And right now we compete in the swimming pool and it’s always as (good) now as it was in the beginning of our career. Who needs less time to knock an opponent out? It’s a competition between two brothers. And we have big competitions but to be honest I have developed my skills by myself. My brother has a big talent in boxing and in sport.
I don’t want to fight him. I know my brother very well. He’s much more talented and right now he’s much younger than me; almost five years. And if we’re swimming in the swimming pool, other than a hairy chest, he’s much better than me. Sometimes in ping-pong, I beat him, but it is more difficult. Just one play where I’m dominate and that is chess.
But the competition between two brothers – it would be a great fight; one brother’s fight against another brother’s, but we promised our mom never do that and I love my brother so much and that why it’s never happened. So I’m sorry for all boxing fans. It’s my personal story and that why I can’t do that. But anyway, the competition between the two of us; we do that every day.
Q: And when you talk about the boxing aspect of things, did you every bring up the subject of you know OK you know I’m going to knock out Chisora faster than you’re going to knock out Mormeck or you know he says the other thing?
Vitali Klitschko: Oh, I forget to tell you. I totally dominate him by children. I make three of them, as Wladimir is almost 35. I dominate him three to zero.
Q: Vitali, I’m just wondering; do you think that Dereck Chisora is a better fighter than David Haye?
Vitali Klitschko: Oh, good question. Do you know what? It’s – right now, I tell you, he has exactly the same skills of David Haye, but David Haye was coming from cruiserweight. Dereck Chisora is a real heavyweight fighter and that why he has a much stronger punch and after the fight, I can give you a more exact answer. Right now, in my personal opinion; they both probably have the same (level) of skills.
Q: How do you expect Dereck Chisora to fight you differently than David Haye fought your brother? In other words, obviously, people expect him to try more than David Haye did, but what are your thoughts on that?
Vitali Klitschko: David Haye didn’t want to fight. He just kept running away from my brother. He didn’t come in to fight. I expect a better fight from Dereck Chisora. He’s actually fighter. He wants to go in and fight and to go the distance. He tries to challenge his opponent and I didn’t see that in the last fight between David Haye against Wladimir Klitschko. And that’s why they both have totally different styles. Dereck Chisora is more aggressive than David Haye.
Q: Do you expect David Haye to agree to fight you after, assuming you win this fight?
Vitali Klitschko: David Haye so unpredictable and we tried to make a deal and I hope the fight comes through, but right now we are miles apart from making the contract. Right now I don’t want to talk about it; I am focused totally to – for the Chisora fight and I hope that after Dereck Chisora, David Haye changes his mind and I can give a chance to David Haye to fight for world title.
Everyone, every fighter has a dream to fight for world title and I have a feeling I tell every time to David Haye, please fight me. Please fight for the world title; it’s the most prestigious title in the world. And then if he doesn’t want to do that, it’s OK. David Haye always tries to find excuses why fights do not happen. I hope David Haye one day makes a decision to fight me.
Q: You mentioned earlier that your career’s not over yet. So how many more times to do you plan to fight this year; in this calendar year?
Vitali Klitschko: The year’s just beginning. It’s first fight in this year, but definitely it will depend of my condition, depend of health and actually, I can do one or two fights more, if everything goes smoothly. I’ll give it my best; and hope, if everything is fine, returning to the ring in a couple of months.
Q: Assuming you know after the Chisora fight, how long are you going to give David Haye to sign a contract? Is there a drop-dead deadline or something like that?
Vitali Klitschko: I will have to wait to give you an answer for that. Right now, I’m totally focused on Dereck Chisora fight. After the Dereck Chisora fight, I will give you the answer for your question, but right now I’m not ready to talk about that.
Q: You’ve only fought once in United States since your comeback in 2000 and I just want to know if American fans have seen the last of Vitali Klitschko in the United States or if you do plan to come back over here again.
Vitali Klitschko: I’ll be happy to fight in the United States. My last fight was at Staples Center, in 2009. I’d be happy to fight in Staples Center, in Madison Square Garden… Just a couple of months ago I was in the United States and so many fans asked me exactly the same question.
It’s great to fight in Europe (and Soviet) world. I would be happy to fight in the United States, but for that to happen we need just one important point; a good American challenger.
Q: We’re both 40 years old. Do you think you’ll be around long enough to see a good enough American challenger to prompt you to come back to the United States? Or do you just think the American fans will eventually rally around you?
Vitali Klitschko: Chris Arreola is actually already number 1 in WBC rating, if we can talk about Chris Arreola again in Staples Center. Why not?
Q: People have been asking you about your future opponents. One guy that you talked about in the past that you really to fight; he hasn’t been around for a while, is Nikolai Valuev. Have you still got any wish to fight him at some point, if you could talk him into it?
Vitali Klitschko: Nikolai Valuev is a member of Russian parliament right now. I received an official answer from Nikolai. He’s retired and doesn’t want to fight anymore. It would be very interesting fight. It’s very interesting, the way I have to find sparring partners for the fights and he’s actually – I am – I’m 6’ 7”, but Nikolai Valuev, 6’ 9”.
Q: Six-eleven, (actually).
Vitali Klitschko: Six-eleven; sorry. He’s 6’ 11” and I never fought against anyone so big and this fight would be interesting for me, for the audience, especially since Nikolai looks so impressive. But I have bad news. Nikolai doesn’t want to fight anymore because he has retired.
Q: Well you could have a fight between the two politicians if you could talk him into it, so it would be really interesting. You’re involved in politics as well.
Vitali Klitschko: You’re right; you’re right. For that, I would have to be a member of the Ukrainian parliament. Maybe next year, I will be a member and after that we can come back to this question with one member of Russian parliament; one (inaudible) fight against another one. This of course is joke. But anyway, I have a dream to fight Nikolai, but you know he decided, because of an injury, because of his hip – a lot of injuries and he decided to retire. And I am full of respect for him and I wish Nikolai a lot of luck in his political career.
Vitali Klitschko: Thank you very much everybody. Thank you very much for your questions. Thank you very much for following the Klitschko Brothers’ career. I wish for everyone who sees the fight on Saturday night a lot of enjoyment from it. I feel that this fight will be one of the most interesting of my fight career. I have really good challenger and it will be very good fight and I hope this will be a real big battle in heavyweight division.
Have a nice day and we see each other Saturday night.
Travis Pomposello: EPIX is really looking forward to kicking off this heavyweight championship trilogy with two EPIX alumni – defending champion Vitali Klitschko versus Dereck Chisora. And you know like the champ said many times, we think this is a very interesting and competitive fight and it’ll be a lot of fun for U.S. fans to see.
The EPIX Heavyweight Extravaganza kicks off on This Saturday! February 18, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT, with Klitschko vs. Chisroa, live from Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany. On Saturday, February 25 (4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT), undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Alexander Povetkin (23-0, 16 KOs), of Russia, will defend his title against world cruiserweight champion Marco Huck (34-1, 25 KOs), of Berlin, Germany, in the Porsche-Arena in Stuttgart, Germany. The grand finale will take place on Saturday, March 3 (Time TBD) in the ESPIRIT Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany, and will feature unified champion Wladimir Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs), of Kiev, Ukraine, defending his World Boxing Organization (WBO), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and WBA super heavyweight crowns against two-time world cruiserweight champion Jean Marc Mormeck (36-4, 22 KOs), of Pantin, France.
These six gladiators boast a combined record of 207-12 (161 KOs) – a 94.5% winning percentage and a 78% victory by knockout ratio.
As has become the custom, EPIX will once again present the closed-captioned simulcast of the three world heavyweight championship fights on a jumbotron in Times Square (Broadway between 44th and 45th Sts.)
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