Klitschko will fight Williams
When 6-foot-8 Vitali Klitschko opened up his career with 27 consecutive knockouts and won the WBO heavyweight title in 1999, boxing pundits began to wonder if they had a new phenom on their hands.
But after successfully defending his title twice, Klitschko not only lost his belt to Chris Byrd, but the respect of the same so-called experts that had once lauded him to begin with.
Even though Klitschko was winning the fight handily at the time of the 10th-round stoppage, which was caused by his injured shoulder, and he subsequently had surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff, “Dr Ironfist’s” name became mud and he fell off boxing’s radar screen.
But after taking former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis to the limit in June 2003, a fight Klitschko was winning but that was stopped in the sixth round because of a bad cut over his eye, and after later winning the vacant WBC and linear world championship against Corrie Sanders last April, Klitschko’s career has come full circle.
Klitschko, born in Ukaraine, but now residing in Los Angeles, is considered the legitimate world heavyweight champion and will make his first title defense against England’s Danny Williams, on Saturday, December 11, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, on an HBO-televised event.
“I am really happy to fight again,” the 33-year-old Klitschko said in a conference call Monday. “I have had a long break, more than six months. I know that Danny Williams wants to prove me what a great fighter he is. This is going to be a very interesting fight. I am starting right now the preparation. I have seven weeks before the fight and I hope I will be in great form and put forth a great performance on Dec. 11.”
The 31-year-old Williams, once considered cannon fodder for Mike Tyson, also finds his career on the upswing after stopping Tyson in four rounds in July.
“I am getting stronger and stronger by the day,” Williams said. “I believe I am fighting the best champion in the world and Vitali is also fighting the best challenger.”
Klitschko, now 34-2, with 33 knockouts, shunted aside any talk of Tyson and said he is focused on the task at hand.
“I am resolved to fight against Danny Williams,” Klitschko said. “I have to defend my title and I do not want to think about the next step. Right now, I am concentrating just on this fight. I want to be the undisputed world champion.”
As does Williams, 32-3 (27), who has been bathing in the limelight since he stopped Tyson after absorbing an early beating.
“There is a lot of pressure because a lot of people in Britain now believe I have a chance to become WBC Champion,” Williams said. “But that is part of the reason I never fulfilled my ability or talents before because I used to put pressure on myself and come into the ring very stressed out and not be able to perform. I will go into the ring relaxed and that is the way I perform best.”
Klitschko said he wanted to defend his title and go on to challenge the other so-called champions, Byrd, John Ruiz and Lamon Brewster who, like Sanders, stopped Vitali’s younger brother Wladimir to win the WBO strap.
Klitschko also said he injured both of his hands beating on Sanders, but feels 100 percent and has been boning up on Williams.
“I have followed the career of Danny and know he is a good fighter,” Klitschko said. “I have always been aware of him, but I never saw him fight live. I have studied his fights and reviewed the tapes. I know that Danny is doing exactly the same with my tapes. He is studying and preparing.”
Klitschko said he has something to prove against Williams.
“It is difficult to get a title and it is much more difficult to defend a title,” Klitschko said. “I know it is not so easy, but I want to show everybody I am stronger than he is, that I am stronger than Mike Tyson. It is a difficult task, but I am ready for it.”
Williams said he is not happy with just beating Tyson.
“As soon as my fight was over with Mike Tyson, I was back training,” Williams said. “I am taking this fight very seriously. I do not care about the attention I am getting from beating Mike Tyson. I want more. The only way I am going to get more is if I beat Vitali Klitschko and that is what I intend to do.”
Against Tyson, Williams enjoyed a height and size advantage, but at more than 6-foot-1, he will be the smaller man against Klitschko.
“This is a totally different fight,” Williams said. “In fact, this is a harder fight. You will see a totally different Danny Williams. I believe I am going to be the world champion. But I give Vitali lots of respect. I beat the man, Mike Tyson, and Vitali Klitschko could have gotten an easy kind of fight. But he picked Danny Williams. So I give him respect for that.”