Media Interview with Wladimir Klitschko and Emanuel Steward
International Boxing Federation (IBF) / World Boxing Organization (WBO) / World Boxing Association (WBA) super heavyweight champion WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO (56-3, 49 KOs), of Kiev, Ukraine, his Hall of Fame trainer EMANUEL STEWARD, EPIX Sports executive Travis Pomposello and Tom Loeffler, Managing Director of K2 Promotions, hosted an international media conference call on Wednesday discussing Klitschko’s March 3rd world title defense against two-time cruiserweight champion Jean-Marc Mormeck (36-4, 22 KOs), of Pantin, France. Klitschko vs. Mormeck is the third of three heavyweight title fights 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 Heavyweight Extravaganza, which has been running the past two Saturdays, with WBC champion Vitali Klitschko and WBA champion Alexander Povetkin successfully defending their titles against Dereck Chisora (Feb. 18) and Marco Huck (Feb. 25), respectively, concludes This Saturday! beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT, with W. Klitschko vs. Mormeck, live from ESPIRIT Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany.
As has become the custom, EPIX will once again present the closed-captioned simulcast of Klitschko vs. Mormeck on a jumbotron in Times Square, located on Broadway between 44th and 45th Sts.
CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT
Travis Pomposello: It’s a privilege and an honor to be here in Düsseldorf, Germany with Wladimir and Emanuel to talk about the final chapter of this three-part heavyweight boxing story that we’ve been telling on EPIX. We had a controversial, but great story, and a great fight on our first week, with Vitali Klitschko’s WBC title defense against Dereck Chisora, the second chapter with WBA champion Alexander Povetkin and Marco Huck, which was a great fight out of Stuttgart, and as we approach the final chapter here with Wladimir Klitschko defending his unified titles against Jean-Marc Mormeck, I think we really are showing that heavyweight boxing is still very much alive and well in the United States. We’ve had great turnout in Times Square watching Vitali’s fight on the 18th, and I’m going to pass it on to Tom Loeffler. I’d like to thank everyone for coming on.
Tom Loeffler: After Vitali’s fight and all the fireworks that happened with Chisora, both in the ring and outside the ring, there was about 5,000 tickets left for this fight with Wladimir against Mormeck, and in the last two weeks, those have all been pretty much sold. We have some single tickets left, but it’ll be a complete sellout by Saturday night, at 50,000 people in the Esprit Arena here in Düsseldorf. It’s a soccer stadium, and it’s one of the nicest stadiums out here in Europe. And we’re really excited about this show.
As you know, Vitali successfully defended his WBC title, and now we’re looking forward to Wladimir defending all the other titles in the Klitschko family.
As the co-feature on the show, we’re also really excited about another K2 fighter, Ola Afolabi, the No. 1-rated cruiserweight contender. He’s fighting for the WBO interim cruiserweight title against Valery Brudov, who is a very tough fighter out of Russia, and also lives in L.A. and trains at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club. And it’ll be a great co-feature to this show.
So it’ll actually be a double world title fight, and we’re happy that EPIX has picked up this event as the second part of the Klitschko brothers heavyweight championship fights.
Ola Afolabi: I am pretty much expecting what I expect in every fight. The guy is going to come out to fight. He’s going to come out to win, and I’m going to do the same, and hopefully my training and my experience is going to help me conquer that challenge and win this fight.
Emanuel Steward: I think the biggest obstacle in Wladimir’s upcoming title defense is the fact that we’re fighting a fighter with a style unlike any that Wladimir has had to fight. Everyone says it’s a total mismatch, but styles make fights. And in fighting Mormeck, we’re fighting a guy with a bob-and-weave type style that’s something that Wladimir has not fought. And as he and I were just speaking about, it’s the most difficult style for tall fighters.
I know most of the guys I’ve trained, from Tommy Hearns, Lennox,Lewis, and even myself when I fought, we were all tall fighters, and I know the biggest problem was all these guys with their heads down, bobbing and weaving, because you don’t have much of a target, and you’re always in danger of breaking your hands.
And so it’s not the type of a fight that he can come out like everyone thinks and just blow the guy away. It’s so frustrating (inaudible) with these comments that we’re reading. And I understand the fans’ opinion, but I just think style-wise, it’s not going to be the type of a fight where you can just knock the guy out early, because his head is going to be bobbing and weaving. So when you fight a guy like that you have to fight a very patient fight. You have to jab and learn to control the guy’s head, because his head is upfront, which means you control his head, you control his whole weight, and which means you have to fight a patient, systematic fight to break the guy down, much like Lennox had to do with Mike Tyson.
But according to all of the experts, if the fight goes over three rounds or four rounds, it’s considered a terrible performance. If Wladimir knocks him out in a minute, it’s what he was supposed to do, so we’re going into a definitely no-win situation. And also, we can’t underestimate this guy. You know, it’s a type a fight that, you know, he’s a professional fighter, a heavyweight fight, against a guy who has been a world champion, so he has a mindset of being a winner, regardless of what. And one punch can turn everything around, as we saw. And, you know, both Wladimir and I both speak about our experience against those who were supposedly both big, big mismatches. And, you know, in my personal experience – in the back of my mind — is still a one-punch knockout from Hasim Rahman with Lennox Lewis.
So based on those memories, we’ve taken this fight still very seriously. Wladimir’s trained as hard, or harder, than he has for any fight. We have not let up in any area, so we take it as a very frustrating situation, but we expect the fight is not going to be a quick one- or two-round fight, just because of the styles.
Wladimir Klitschko: Good day, everyone. Wladimir Klitschko speaking. I think that Emanuel said it pretty clear the situation with Mormeck fight. I’ve been training for this fight almost 16 weeks. So initially, the fight was supposed to happen on December 10th, and unfortunately due to some health issues, we had to postpone, luckily not cancel the fight, but postpone it to March 3rd. So I had to go from one training camp to a little break in between to the other, and so did Mormeck had more time and chance to adjust himself to the style that I’m fighting, so (inaudible) style of Mormeck. And some of the people will – it’s actually what I hear around, that it’s a mismatch and the body size is so different. Yes, sizes matter. But in this case, it doesn’t matter, because to fight a shorter guy that is physically automatically faster and lighter, is not easy.
I’ve been in those fights with Ibragimov. We remember that fight at Madison Square Garden, which was one-sided, but I couldn’t finish up the guy, and knock him out. And some other fights that I had that experience (inaudible) sparring sessions. To fight a shorter guy is not always an advantage.
He will try to get to the shorter distance. Especially he will create a lot of pressure in the first couple of rounds of the fight. I am actually expecting a great challenge from Jean-Marc. He hasn’t showed (inaudible) at the press workout today. We had a workout, official workout, and he was very (inaudible) actually a lot. He did very little, and he seemed to be kind of slow and, you know, kind of bored, but that definitely is not going to happen at the fight.
We know his abilities and the coach that prepared him for this fight, (Kevin Rooney), Mike Tyson’s former coach, and the style that Mormeck fights, it’s exactly as Emanuel described before, moving around with his head and head down, and we’ll create a lot of pressure. But I know what to expect, and I know what to do.
So I’m excited about March 3rd, because it was enough workouts and having Jean-Marc as a target. So now in a couple of days, we’re going to stand in the ring across from each other.
Q: Manny, you talked about how difficult of a challenge it would be to fight Mormeck. How about on the other side, the fact that he has not fought in 14 months? Wladimir’s been an active fighter. How much do you think that that will benefit Wladimir?
Emanuel Steward: I think it will benefit Wladimir. I think that Wladimir is – even though we had to fight (inaudible) training camp (inaudible) for the most part, even with the (two cancellations), and also the fact that he – as we (inaudible) boxing (inaudible) keeps his body fit in between fights. He’s the only fighter I know that comes into camp the first day probably about four pounds lighter than he’ll weigh in after about five or six weeks of training, because he stays in good shape all the time. And I think it would definitely favor him.
I just think it’s just going to be very difficult for the first two or three rounds. He’s going to have to make adjustments. That’s the problem. But other than that, I think most everything favors Wladimir.
Q: Wladimir, do you think that the recent run of heavyweight fights, your fight being the third championship fight in as many weeks on EPIX, do you think has done anything to build up the heavyweight division in the United States, where people seem to be focusing more on the lighter weights than on the heavyweights?
Wladimir Klitschko: Well, this issue with heavyweight division, especially in The States or from – with the view from The States, it’s kind (of dead), right? So that’s actually (the opinion that) a lot of people have.
On one side, I agree, because there has been not many great challengers (and loud) as David Haye, for example. But in Europe – and that’s why (inaudible) in Europe with my fights. In Europe, as you just heard, there’s like 50,000 people and arenas are sold out, and we don’t need to do a lot of promotion and stuff. People are buying those tickets in the very last row, and they’re watching not a soccer game at a soccer stadium. They’re looking at two guys that are in a much smaller field. It’s a boxing ring.
And they’re excited. The broadcasting of the fight goes to over 150 countries around the world. And it’s always challenging. I mean, it doesn’t matter who fights, whether it’s Vitali or me fighting. It’s always a challenge, and those guys that are fighting us, they understand that (inaudible) actually having highlight of their life and their professional career to fight us, because if they can do the miracle and if they can do certain things, they can win all of the titles.
And especially right now in this fight, Jean-Marc Mormeck has a lot to win and nothing to lose, because on the line are all those (bells) that I have been collecting and unifying in the past years. And it’s a lot to lose, I can tell you.
So it’s (certain motivation) for any and every opponent. And a lot of pressure and responsibilities on physical shape and condition and the will to win on my side. So that’s why I would agree, but if I will take a look in the future, you have a good group of upcoming young heavyweights like Seth Mitchell, that he’s coming actually from American football, there is also Chris Arreola who tremendously knocked out Eric Molina with pretty much same technique. And in the first round, he just rolled over him.
And I think that those heavyweights are coming up, and it has been always in the history like that. Think about Mike Tyson. He was 20 years old. Nobody would have even think that a 20-year-old boy – actually boy, or man – would become the youngest heavyweight champion in history.
And it always has been like that in the past. And it’s going to be like that in the future. I’ve been talking to Emanuel a lot about it, and what I have to do, I have to just keep my championships and just keep going and fighting whoever I fight. And all the exciting fights, and especially the fights in The States.
I hope this year I will fight back in The States again. I’ve been missing those exciting moments in my training camps in the Poconos or in Florida. And I’m definitely looking forward to fighting back in The States, as well. It doesn’t matter who I’m going to fight.
Q: Wladimir. One, do you think given his style that an uppercut is going to be a punch that would be effective on that? And how do you feel, if so, your uppercut stacks up as a big man?
Wladimir Klitschko: As I mentioned before, it’s not really always an advantage, the difference in the size, because the shorter guy is trying to get to a closer distance and to be effective right there. And the taller guy has to keep the distance.
So I will – I can talk a lot, actually, right now, but you better watch the fight on EPIX, and you will see my strategy and what kind of punches I’m going to use or I have to be prepared for from (inaudible) side. And I will promise you one thing, that Jean-Marc Mormeck will try anything and everything to win this fight. He will go and move forward and he is going to be very aggressive. He is a natural athlete. He’s in perfect condition. And he has a great body shape, that we can see at Friday’s weigh-in.
And I think that he’s going to shoot from all different angles, and he will try to do anything. Of course, if I see an opening, I will use it right away. I’m not going to wait too long.
Q: Emanuel, I’d like to ask you, I heard Wladimir say in his opening remarks that he – because of the fact that this fight was postponed from December, and now it’s taking place, you know, in March, that he’s been training basically for 16 weeks. Do you get any concerns that even though a lot of people think this is a one-sided fight, that maybe you’ve been training a little bit too much to get ready for this fight, that sometimes you could leave it in the gym? Any concerns on your behalf about that?
Emanuel Steward: No. Wladimir and I have a training system that works very good (inaudible) I was (doing) the fight in San Antonio on February the 4th, and didn’t even get here until the 6th, and his fight is on March the 3rd. We have a system where we have a good training program that prevents him from burning himself out, which also has extended his career, where he’s capable of fighting another four or five years. We discussed that, and that’s because of a few reasons.
But, no, he’s (inaudible) just right, and he got the right amount of rounds in. And, you know, even though he’s training in between, you know, he does light training. He knows not to burn himself out. He’s a very, very intelligent person when it comes down to his body. So we have not did too much excessive training.
Q: Now, you did a little bit of your best effort to build up the fight in your comments about how dangerous this fight might be or at least early in the early going of the fight. This will be Wladimir’s 11th title defense. In his previous 10 defenses, he has barely lost any rounds against pretty much a who’s who of the top 10 in the weight class. What do you see in Mormeck that thinks that makes you think this will be a dangerous fight for Wladimir?
Emanuel Steward: The danger is mainly overestimating and – underestimating and overlooking an opponent. That’s what I thought I made very clearly when I mentioned the Corrie Sanders and Lennox Lewis-Hasim Rahman fights. Upsets can happen.
I don’t think that Mormeck is that big of a threat. I’ll make that very clear. But I think the fact that everyone is expecting – and as you have told me before, if Wladimir goes about in the fifth or sixth round, I’m going (to like tear him up in the) media. That’s a rough situation we’re in.
Everybody’s looking for Wladimir to knock the guy out early, and I’m saying his style is not going to be where Wladimir will probably come out and just blow him away right away. It’s going to be (inaudible) Wladimir has every advantage, but it’s going to have to be a systematic breakdown.
I mean (inaudible) Wladimir (inaudible) like a George Foreman, maybe a Sonny Liston, I would say, yes, because he would take advantage of his great physical size. And (inaudible) I have to be realistic and understand what I’m dealing with. Wladimir is not that type of a guy. George Foreman, I think, yeah, he would have probably (inaudible) but Wladimir’s a technical fighter. I mean, it’s just so much (inaudible) but I have to really be realistic what I’m working with.
And I think if he gets an opportunity, as he said earlier, he will knock him out. And that’s one of the questions that came in earlier also was about (inaudible) that’s really not one of Wladimir’s biggest punches (inaudible) the punch that we all can see that he’s vulnerable for, but we have been working on things to do that, but that’s just not the punch that you ever saw him score a lot of knockouts with.
Maybe (inaudible) uppercut, a left hook (inaudible) some of the fights, but – and (inaudible) I guess (Austin), but I have to be a realistic with what I’m dealing with and have to look at the styles. And I think that it’s going to be a little maybe frustrating for maybe a couple rounds, but I definitely feel that Wladimir has every advantage in the fight, though.
Q: Wladimir, we’ve heard you guys talk about, and we’ve discussed the fact that most people think that this should be a relatively easily winnable fight for you based on what you’ve been doing in your title reign and what he’s done as a heavyweight, Mormeck. And on the other hand, you know, there’s that thing that Emanuel talked about, about seeing what happens early in the fight because of his aggressiveness.
So – and you yourself have said you’re sort of in a no-win situation. So if you go out there and you blow them out in one or two rounds, that’s kind of what people expect. If the fight goes deep in six, seven, eight, nine, or the distance, that will probably not make you look too good.
So in your mind, what is the ideal way that this fight finishes, three, four rounds, five, six rounds? You knock him out, or, you know, you win every round and win a decision? If you could draw it up your own way, what’s the ideal thing for you to go and do this fight and have it work out where you’re shown in the best possible light?
Wladimir Klitschko: When Lennox Lewis and I were fighting each other in “Ocean’s 11,” he’s supposed to fight – he was there right before his fight with Rahman. And I thought this fight with Rahman was a mismatch because Lennox was too strong, too powerful, too experienced, and we know exactly what happened in that fight in South Africa. And the worst thing that I can do, just lose my focus, and I have – I didn’t forget where it was in 2004. I haven’t made my payback (in the way of) – after losing in one year two fights against Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster, and to build up myself back on the top. So but I haven’t forgotten those experiences in the year 2004, when I dropped to the bottom of the sport.
So it doesn’t matter who is in the front of me, Mormeck or David Haye or you name it. I will do my job, and I do anything possible that is in my power to knock the person out. I don’t want to promise a knockout, because I did promise a knockout against David Haye. I didn’t deliver it. However, why? And I don’t want to find any excuse (inaudible) anything like that, but I’d better do my job, and then after the fight, we can talk more precise in particular on what happened, how it hppened, what I was expecting, because everything else is just speculation by you, me and Emanuel and everyone else that’s involved.
So I – trust me, I’ve been doing this sport pretty much professionally since I’m 14. And I’m 35 now. So I will do best. The best win, of course, is the win by knockout for the fans and for me, as well, and for my team. So I’ll do my best.
Q: Wladimir, you have fought a number of taller – not taller than you, necessarily – but fairly tall opponents as a heavyweight. I think Mormeck’s probably the shortest guy you’ve fought in a long time, if not maybe ever. Has there been a time – anytime in the last several fights where you’ve fought somebody that you’re going to have such a height – I mean, you have a height advantage over most opponents, but anybody you’ve had that dramatic of a height advantage against? And how do you deal with punching down like that and fighting such a short opponent?
Wladimir Klitschko: It’s a tough job to fight shorter guy. And trust me, it costs you more energy as a bigger guy. It’s on one side an advantage because of the size and weight, but it’s not always an advantage.
It’s definitely – it’s a smaller target to hit, so you have to be really precise. It has to be like surgery in an operating room, you know? You have to be really precise with what you’re doing, and that’s exactly what it’s going to be like with Mormeck.
And I wish I could fight bigger guys, because bigger guys, bigger targets, are much easier. They’re slower. I can work with them actually better than with the smaller guys.
It will be a challenge on Saturday. I’m ready for it. I know what to expect. Just let me fight.
Q: OK. What are your thoughts about this supposed ban about fighting in the Barclays Center? I know that the promotion had picked a date and preferably a place for this next fight, and apparently you can’t do it because Golden Boy needs to be a co-promoter. What are your thoughts about that?
Tom Loeffler: Well, that’s a different situation than the fight we’re focusing on. I mean, just briefly, apparently Barclays has an exclusive arrangement with Golden Boy, and there’s no sense in co-promoting any Klitschko fight with a different promoter. I mean, we wouldn’t ask Golden Boy to co-promote an Oscar de la Hoya fight, for example.
So – and it’s nothing against them. It’s just we wouldn’t co-promote – at the level where Vitali or Wladimir are at right now, at the top of the sport, at the top of the heavyweight division, there’s no sense in co-promoting with any other promoter. They have all the titles now amongst themselves. We’ve done, you know, the biggest arenas here in Europe. You know, consistently – I think this is Wladimir’s fifth stadium show or the fifth stadium show that we’ve promoted here, all over 40,000 seats. You know, we’ve done three shows at Staples Center in L.A. We’ve done shows in Madison Square Garden and Mandalay Bay.
And so it’s unfortunate, since it seems like Barclays wanted to have a Klitschko fight there, but under their current agreement with Golden Boy, that it doesn’t seem possible that we could do a Klitschko fight there.
Q: Wladimir, you talked about wanting to come to the United States and fight again. Is there any particular venue that you would like to fight at?
Wladimir Klitschko: Well, anything, anywhere. I think that this Barclays arena in Brooklyn could be a really good chance or Madison Square Garden. I think New York – the East Coast — is really probably the logical step and move to fight in.
Q: Where do you and Vitali go from here? You haven’t had that much competition it seems to me, recently. Is it frustrating to you to not have somebody, some big heavyweight step up and challenge you? I mean, somebody that can truly challenge you, not somebody that just talks, but somebody that can truly challenge you guys. Is it frustrating for you?
Wladimir Klitschko: I think you’re more frustrated that anyone else. We’re getting enough challenges, trust me. It looks maybe simple and one-sided for you guys, but it’s demanding a lot of work and a lot of concentration, and you have to be right on the dot on the night of the fight. It doesn’t matter what kind of mood you have, what kind of physical shape you have, whatever you have in your mind, your family issues, your – whatever, you name it, you need to be on, Saturday night at 11 o’clock, walking in the ring and give your best performance.
And it’s always challenging. It’s always difficult, trust me. It’s not as easy as you think and one-sided as you see. I mean, maybe it is one-sided, but it demands a lot of strength, a lot of work. And we are going to dominate this division as much (as we have fun), and we have fun doing it. We love our job, and (inaudible) to Emanuel each time when I’m wearing my gloves, I’m saying, Emanuel, it’s amazing, I love the job what I do, because I’m still learning. I’m still improving myself. There is so much space and so much talent that needs to be shown to the public and the boxing fans that I’m not stopping it.
So I’m getting in there. And, of course, if our fights were kind of sloppy and we were getting punched in the face and we needed to have a shoehorn to put the hat on after the fights, probably that would be exciting for the fans in the way one goes up and down on one fighter and the other fighter, and on both directions.
I know what to expect from my opponents. I know the game, and it’s actually a chess game for me, believe it or not. So when you’re well prepared, there is nothing that can surprise you. That’s basically it.
Emanuel Steward: I would like to say this. You know, the answer (inaudible) for me, at least, for your question. Yes, it is frustrating to me (inaudible) but it’s nothing that Wladimir can do about it. You know, he’s unfortunately – we don’t have any heavyweight challenges in America, and it’s not their fault. You know, Wladimir (inaudible) a while back about (Seth Mitchell) (inaudible) he looks good. I like (inaudible) he’s a fundamentally good fighter. He does what (inaudible) he comes and he throws punches. He doesn’t wait. And he’d be a good challenger. Just too bad we don’t have a bunch of them.
You know, unfortunately, this is probably the – maybe the worst heavyweight time in history, but (inaudible) and it’s frustrating for us sometimes, too. But, you know, Larry Holmes had a similar situation. He was able to get two fights (inaudibible) Ali (inaudible) faded at the time, and a big fight that they made into a racial thing (inaudible) between him and Gerry Cooney, but he suffered (inaudible) a lot of the same things, and I’ve had Lennox Lewis to some degree the same way.
But all they can do is keep knocking out what we have. But it’s very frustrating situation, but the thing that’d make it easier for me with Wladimir, he seems to really love his boxing, and (inaudible) analyzing a new style, a new strategy, so it’s (inaudible) but generally, it’s not as exciting that I would like to have, as having a big challenger. We got it with David Haye. David Haye created the fight by talking and cutting out paper dolls and stuff on the Internet, but nevertheless, it created some excitement.
I’ve always told Wladimir, if you keep the championship of the world, sooner or later, out of some crazy situation, there will be – a challenger will come up out of nowhere (inaudible) division. I remember when Joe Louis had it was so bad that he called his opponents the bums-of-the-month club. I think (inaudible) fighting bartenders (inaudible) small light heavyweight. Billy Conn, he almost lost to Conn and created a big super fight in the rematch, and his sparring partner Jersey Joe Walcott was an opponnt, and really (inaudible) and then he had to fight (inaudible)
But, you know, as long as you keep the title, all roads leads to a Klitschko. And (as we do that), regardless of what, there will be something to come up. But in the meantime, it’s frustrating for me, but Wladimir seems to enjoy training and boxing, so we just do the best we can.
Q: You’ve seen Seth Mitchell fight. Do you think he’s anywhere near ready for Wladimir or Vitali?
Emanuel Steward: No, I don’t think so. But, you know, we – but he will be. I think he’s fighting Chazz Witherspoon next. Chris Arreola has won a few fights (inaudible) and he’s kept his weight down. He could be a rough fight possibly for Wladimir, because he’s very physical. By the way, I think Vitali Klitschko’s greatest performance since Lennox Lewis was when he fought Arreola. He was fantastic.
But I think Chris will still be a big challenge, because he would force Wladimir, I think, to fight out of his comfort zone that Wladimir fights in because of his rough style and (inaudible) physically big enough. But those are the two that we see. But Arreola, I would really like to see possibly – the dream would be to see him New York, hopefully at Wladimir’s next fight, and maybe about a year so with Seth, the way he’s developing, and it seemed like he has some good trainers, too. He would be a threat.
But (inaudible) you never know when someone out of the blue will come out for the heavyweight (inaudible) it happens.
Q: You know, from the October 20th show, Tom, are you guys still looking at the U.S. for that date? I mean, does the fact that you can’t get into the Barclays, is that preventing you guys from exploring other places in the U.S.? I know that Wladimir was just saying that the East Coast and New York would be a popular place for it, but are you guys still exploring that? Or since the Barclays is off the table, in your estimation, that you’ve got to stay in Germany?
Tom Loeffler: No, not at all. The ironic part is that Barclays actually approached us to do a fight there. We didn’t approach them. It certainly would be an interesting venue, but we have a very good relationship, as you know, with Madison Square Garden. And with their recent renovation over there, I was just over there with Gennady Golovkin, the new WBA middleweight champion that we had signed, and we could certainly do another fight at Madison Square Garden. Wladimir sold out the Garden last time when he unified with Ibragimov there, and he’s very popular in New York, with the whole Russian community, and the Daily News completely supports him, and all the New York media.
So, if it’s the right financial situation from a U.S. broadcaster, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do another fight in The States. In fact, like Wladimir said, he actually wants to come back to the U.S. and fight there in front of his fans. It just depends on the right date, the right opponent, and the right financial package, and then we could certainly make it happen.
It’s just hard when you’re selling out these type of stadiums and generating the type of revenue over here, from the ticket sales, and then we have a very strong television partner in Germany with (RTL), it’s hard to bring a fight to The States.
But we’re happy that EPIX is broadcasting the fights live, and so we’re keeping the exposure in the United States, even though the fact that the fights aren’t happening there is not on the table right now, but certainly for the fall, it would definitely be an option.
Q: I’m wondering, from your perspective, do you think that you’re losing some of your profile in the United States because you’re not having fights here, and the fights that you are having are not necessarily being broadcast on the major outlets, major television outlets here?
Wladimir Klitschko: I’m glad that EPIX is broadcasting the fights of the Klitschko brothers in The States, so that gives us a good platform and appearance in the U.S. And, of course, aside from fighting overseas, we need to have proper opponents, and we need to have broadcasters.
So I would be glad if EPIX becomes so powerful and strong enough, which is going to eventually happen, but they can carry such a fight, either HBO, Showtime or EPIX need to step in and also to make it happen.
I think we need a local fighters from the U.S. to create the interest, but I also think eventually New York has been to me so good – and that’s actually my favorite city in The States, where I live and spend time and have my friends, and I think even without an American fighter as my opponent, we can create interest in the fight and create great crowd.
But aside from the crowd and (the site), we need a broadcaster that’s carrying the fight. Otherwise I will be not able to finance my opponents, and they are expensive. They’re fighting a champion, and the numbers are just getting up to the sky, and – from their promoters. So that’s why it needs to make economical sense so I can pay all the costs that such events demand.
Q: Emanuel, do you get to the point when – with regard to training Wladimir and working with Vitali, do you get to the point where you’re sort of have to find new ways to energize them in training and getting ready for a fight, because they’re so dominant? I know at one point when I was watching you work with Vitali, you were trying to get him to throw that uppercut, because I think obviously that would be a tremendous weapon for a heavyweight.
Do you find yourself trying to work on things like that to just sort of keep them engaged because they’re so dominant in fights?
Emanuel Steward: I would say yes, but it – you know, Wladimir really loves training, and it’s great regardless of who we’re training for, he looks forward – as soon as I get into camp and we’ve got all of the screens up, watching continually the opponent and studying him, and so we actually end up like as if we’re like hitmen, we just – we have a new victim, and so we’re going out to study, analyze them (see his weakness) try to figure out how he thinks, how he walks, everything we can find out.
And so enjoyed and found it (very intriguing an opponent) hasn’t really mattered (to him) much in most cases. I think it just frustrates me more so, because I see – I have so much talent here that I would like to exhibit him in a super fight, like when Ali at the time fought Earnie Shavers, and Ken Norton, and, you know, Joe Frazier coming along. He fought Ron Lyle, you know, and we just don’t have that.
But we just have to do the best we can. But it is sometimes a little kind of frustrating to see the talent and not have someone to go out there to perform against, but as far as the training – now, we enjoy the training, though, very much. And in this particular camp, Wladimir has spent lots of time studying lots of fight films, particularly – we go to training most every morning (inaudible) we train twice a day, and he’s talking about the Ali tapes and, you know, all the other heavyweights.
So he’s spending a lot of time, and I think we enjoy the training camp, too (inaudible) last night watching, what was it, Dexter, watching these movies, and all of his gangster series. So it’s a really pleasurable time we have in the camp here, so it’s like a holiday from his normal busy corporate world life that he lives in between fights.
He calls me up seven times in a couple of weeks, and it’s always from seven different cities. He’s in Hamburg, and he’s back in – he’s in Miami. He’s all over everywhere, so he – when he comes to camp, I think he rests for the first time. That’s why his weight is down when he comes to camp and he gets bigger, because he eats three solid times a day instead of eating on the run like he normally does. Just recently, he was voted in some big major, major magazine in the Ukraine the sexiest man alive and on the cover of the magazine.
Travis Pomposello: Everyone at EPIX is looking forward to this last heavyweight fight of the trilogy. It’s been great for EPIX and for fight fans in the U.S. to have both Klitschkos defend their titles live on our air inside of three weeks. And we look forward to doing it again sometime in the future, maybe on U.S. soil.
Emanuel Steward: I’m always excited about a heavyweight championship fight. And, you know, and as I said earlier, the experiences I’ve had and some of the upsets keep me on pins and needles. And as Wladimir said, we leave nothing to chance. So we are excited about the fight. I think that to some degree Wladimir’s visibility suffered a little bit in America because of not, you know, being broadcast a lot, so thank God that this is being broadcast on EPIX.
And hopefully we can have a big fight in America. And I really believe myself a big heavyweight championship fight with Wladimir, even if it’s not with an American fighter, I really believe the fact that it’s the heavyweight championship of the world and the fact that this man has about six belts, I think could be very marketable.
So I would like to see him hopefully fight back in the United States as soon as possible. And, you know, naturally, when you’re selling our arenas with 50,000 people and more, it’s something you have to look at in terms of money, but when a Klitschko fight takes place (inaudible) and this is a perfect example, opponent who nobody gives (inaudible) has any chance, and the place is sold out. It just shows the drawing ability of Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. And when they fight, it’s an event. It’s not really a fight. I mean, the – you know, the front pages of the papers, the first three or four pages, not the sports section, the newspaper, is just covered with fights from the event. So it’s a gala happening whenever Klitschko fights.
And it’s something we have to look in terms of economics. When you’re doing 50,000 in Europe, well, you could be maybe doing 10,000 or 12,000. It’s just hard economics. But hopefully we will be fighting back in the United States soon.
Wladimir Klitschko: I will let my fists talk on Saturday night. Enjoy, and watch it on EPIX, and it was great talking to you guys. Thank you.