Vitali Klitschko Speaks Out: Haye, Holyfield, Povetkin and Fighting After Forty
By Johnny Walker
While preparing for his September 8 defense of his WBC world heavyweight title in Moscow, Vitali Klitschko took time out to hold a press conference in which the elder of the dominant world champion Klitschko brothers discussed some interesting topics, including the ongoing question as to when or if he will fight the UK’s David Haye, whether he finds the challenge of Evander Holyfield credible, whether Alexander Povetkin will ever fight a Klitschko, and how he feels going into his next fight at age 41.
On the topic of being a 40+ year old heavyweight champion, Vitali stated that he doesn’t feel too old to fight, perhaps because he “never smoked [and] consumed alcohol in extremely limited quantities.”
“As for my age, I do not feel it,” Vitali stated. “I feel like I’m twenty-five years old. Maybe this is the impact of a healthy lifestyle, which I have always led.”
“Of course, I can not fully objectively evaluate [my] condition,” Vitali said. “Maybe somewhere I became worse, but for myself it’s gone unnoticed. The first person to tell me that it’s time to stop will be [trainer] Fritz Sdunek.
“We have a clear agreement on this, and I have absolute trust in Fritz.”
Sdunek, also present at the presser, added: “Vitali is like wine – with age he only becomes better. I do not really understand how he did it … Holyfield continues to box at a much more advanced age than Vitali, but has not kept the same level, the quality of his boxing has sharply decreased.”
Speaking of Evander Holyfield, who recently (once again) called out the Klitschko brothers in the press, Vitali was diplomatic.
“I would not want to fight with Holyfield, but for one reason only: he is my hero. I followed his career and admired his preparation.”
“Psychologically, it is very difficult – to fight with one’s hero.”
One person who definitely doesn’t qualify as Klitschko’s hero is the Briton David Haye, a long-time Klitschko nemesis. Vitali offered only muted praise of Haye’s recent knockout win of Dereck Chisora, who took Vitali the distance in the champion’s previous outing. And he sounded in no hurry to take up Haye’s recent challenge for a meeting in the ring, claiming that the Brit had already passed up the chance.
“David Haye and I were to box on September 8, when I will now fight Charr in Moscow,” said Klitschko.
“But at the last moment, when he had been sent a contract, [Haye] chose to meet with Chisora. What do I do? I will not run to David Haye and beg him to meet with me.”
As for Haye’s recent win, Vitali said he found the “Haye bout with Chisora was generally very interesting,” mostly because he felt Haye could be knocked out himself at any second and had taken some hard shots from Chisora.
“In this regard, by the way, it would be appropriate to ask another question: why are the fights of Klitschko brothers seen as not interesting? Because we do not give our enemies a chance to attack us,” Vitali stated.
“Interestingly when fighters such as Chisora and Haye face each other, until the last second, it remains unclear who will come out of this a winner. And we do not give your opponents the pleasure of meeting our strikes. We use all – speed, reflexes, coordination – in order not to become a standing target for opponents.”
Another opponent on the horizon for the Klitschkos is WBA “regular” champion Alexander Povetkin. Klitschko was slightly sardonic in his evaluation of the Russian heavyweight.
“A fight with Povetkin has moved into the area of illusory fantasy,” quipped Vitali.
“We talk about it for years. All this time we were trying to organize the fight, but it did not take place – and it was not our fault. He cancelled twice.
“For the first time – because of an injury to Povetkin. The second time … each team representative from Sauerland Event has its own version of why they canceled the fight.
“[Povetkin] held a fight with [Marco] Huck, and won a questionable victory. But I think the fight between [younger brother and world champion] Wladimir and Alexander would be very interesting. I can tell you, in no way underestimating the merits of Povetkin the boxer, that this fight will be very, very difficult.”
Finally, asked whether his next opponent, Manuel Charr, a relative unknown, would be up to the task of providing a decent fight, Vitali was firm.
“Yes, because I otherwise would not fight him. He was chosen for the fight because he is competitive. I have no desire to fight with punching bags.”