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Wladimir Klitschko

July 16, 2007
July 16, 2007

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July 16, 2007

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Jerry Jones

Wladimir Klitschko

As told to Chris Mannix

WITH HISSIXTH-ROUND TKO of Lamon Brewster last Saturday, Ukrainian heavyweight WladimirKlitschko kept his IBF and IBO titles and cashed a $6 million paycheck. Theyounger of the fighting Klitschko brothers (Wladimir is 31; Vitali, a formerheavyweight champ himself, is 35) is now 49--3 with 44 knockouts. Things couldhave been worse for Brewster: The 6'6", 244-pound Klitschko—the unmarriedson of a schoolteacher and an air force colonel—who, by the by, holds a Ph.D.,dominated despite an injured left hand. Who wants next?

This is an article from the July 16, 2007 issue

On possible futureopponents
It's a problem. There's a lack of strong opponents out there. The winner of thefight between WBO champ Sultan Ibragimov and WBA champ Ruslan Chagaev could begood.

On fightingEvander Holyfield
I was skeptical of his comeback at first, but he has been very good [Holyfield,44, beat Lou Savarese on June 30]. He is an icon. I would definitely considerhim.

On beating RayAustin earlier this year by second-round TKO—using only his left hand
My right hand is a missile. You don't throw many missiles.

On stardom in atroubled sport
The way things have gone for me is similar to how things were for Joe Louis.Before he lost to Max Schmeling, he didn't have many top opponents. Boxers likeAli, Foreman, Ken Norton—they had so many good fighters at the same time. WhenTyson fought, there weren't big names but he became big because he had suchgreat knockouts. I just have to focus on staying successful and history willremember me.

On sparring withhis brother
We don't anymore. It's too emotional. I still have bad feelings for the coachwho made us spar [at a sports school near Kiev]; Vitali broke my leg once. Howbad is it when you break an opponent's leg in the ring!

On ultimatefighting's impact on boxing
It's a totally different sport with different fans. Boxing survived competingwith karate and kickboxing—there will always be other exciting sports. Boxingdoesn't have to worry about the UFC at all.

On getting a Ph.D.in sports science
I wanted to keep challenging myself. The sports school was so tough. There were20 kids with different nationalities and we trained all day. We had the bestfood, the best beds, but we were broken down physically and psychologically.That helped me at Kiev University. When I was getting my Ph.D., a professortold me nobody in class explained things as well as I could.

On meeting Shaq
The first time was at a Lakers game. Vitali and I were courtside, and Shaq cameover and started speaking Russian! From that moment I was a huge Shaq fan.After Vitali became champ in 2004, [HBO vice president] Mark Taffet gave himone of Shaq's shoes that was autographed. I was jealous. So after I won thetitle [in '06], Mark gave me a signed shoe too. But I still wanted to see Shaqsign it. I went to a Miami game, and when it ended, I took the shoe and ran tothe tunnel where the players walk through and started screaming, "Shaq!Shaq!" But he had his eyes down and didn't see me. I still have theshoe.

 

PHOTOPHOTOGRAPH BY DIANA ELIAZOVPHOTOTEDDY BLACKBURN/REUTERS (KLITSCHKO ACTION)PHOTOROCKY WIDNER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (SHAQ)