Stacy McKinley served ten years as part of the training team with Mike Tyson. He also worked with Ricardo Mayorga, among others world champs. McKinley is very impressed by what he sees in the ring work of Vitali Klitschko.
“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.”