After Wladmir Klitschko’s triumph over American Lamon Brewster on July 7, the King returned home Kiev and spoke to Zhenyu Li, a Chinese boxing scribe, over the phone. This well-educated, gently spoken giant was free to talk about the mystery of his first bout against Brewster, the current heavyweight landscape, his bond with China and lots more.
Zhenyu Li: Hey, Wladimir, how’s your left hand? The Chinese fans are all very concerned about your injury.
Wladimir: My hands have been very good. I have a cast for another two to three weeks. And then take it off. That’s it. So I gonna be fine. Nothing is serious. So good.
Zhenyu Li: I saw your fight against Lamon Brewster, you totally dominated him in the rematch, Congratulations Wladimir!
Wladimir: Thank you very much. I was looking forward to this fight. And this fight meant a lot to me.
Zhenyu Li: You are now at the peak of the heavyweight division. I don’t think there’s anyone on this planet who stands taller than you now? Do you think so?
Wladimir: I believe that I am higher than the other champions. But I wish I could get higher. I haven’t reached my goal in this sport. So I have to work longer and unify the titles. If I will not unify the titles because of, however political issues in this sport, then I have to stay successful through all of my fights.
Zhenyu Li: I also saw your first confrontation against Brewster. I was quite shocked when that weird moment, that meltdown occurred. I think you utterly controlled the fight in the first 4 rounds. What happened exactly?
Wladimir: Yes, it was weird to me as well. Because I was ready for this fight and this fight was important to us. I meant Vitali and me. Because then in two more weeks, we were supposed to be the champions of the world at the same time.
So I was dominating all those rounds and things were going good, but after the second round, I couldn’t describe it, but I kinda…I kinda lost my power and I kinda slowed down and all became gloomy. I was actually fighting with myself to move around the ring instead of fighting my opponent.
I can’t describe it. I went to the hospital after the first fight. And the doctor said that I am diabetic. And (there was) too much sugar in my blood and I almost felt the sugar coma which wasn’t the good news for me. So I checked myself. I don’t have any illnesses. I don’t have diabetes. I am a healthy person and I am as clean as a whistle. So I can continue my sports courage. That’s the most important question for me.
I also want to give you commands on some conspiracies regarding poisoning stuff. And I said it in the news conference before the (second) fight with Brewster that after the fight as well, I never ever blamed anyone doing this. Or I never said to myself that somebody poisoned me. I never did. Because I don’t have any facts. So I was quiet. But I know the media should speak about it. And also certain things which were going on regarding conflicts, Vitali’s fight, his eyes and stuff. But personally, I never blamed anyone, especially Lamon Brewster regarding his win. I actually met Lamon Brewster four weeks later in Los Angeles in a restaurant where I congratulated him on his win. So it was never a complaint in my sight.
Zhenyu Li: As we can see, you have improved drastically. What do you think are the main differences between what you are now and what you were in the past?
Wladimir: I don’t want to even consider myself how I have been changed from the past until now. Because I think for now I have a lot of space to improve myself and I better work on that. You can judge. You can tell (whether) I have changed anything or not. I’ll allow somebody else (to tell) instead of making my own judgement.
Zhenyu Li: What’re the main differences between your current coach and your previous coach?
Wladimir: I believe Emannel Steward is a GENIUS in the ring. He is a real genius as a coach. And we have beautiful understanding with each other. We work as creative artists. And suddenly… it is a creative work which we do because we put a lot of strategies, a lot of plans, and it works in the fight exactly how we planned in the preparation. So I really enjoy the work. And this man is amazing. Because this sport turned to me to be not just hitting somebody, I mean hitting my opponent with the first combination, second combination whatever. This is all about artwork. That’s what I see in Emannel.
Zhenyu Li: Could you be more specific about his genius? I mean how it demonstrates?
Wladimir: There are so many little things which we do differently than any other coaches who I used to work. It’s more about boxing. It’s a culture about strategies and tactics. Lots of video stuff, watching many times, over and over and over and over, everyday, my opponents, my future opponents. Also, we tape my movements, and we change the way of moving, the way of punching. And the video analyst helps us change the way of fighting.
Zhenyu Li: Talk about your potential future opponents. Ruslan Chagaev, Evander Holyfield, and Corrie Sanders…?
Wladimir: I am open to any of them. Either it’s Holyfield, Corrie Sanders or it’s…Chagaev, Ibragimov, maybe even…um…what is his name…Hasim Rahman. I am not ready to select anything right now, particularly I have to consider it. So we’ll see how the negotiations are doing. Where’s the fight gonna be. I wish the fight is gonna be in China to be honest with you. Because champion of the world means you have to fight around the world.
Zhenyu Li: Do you think you could beat Corrie Sanders this time?
Wladimir: I wish that I could have a fight with him.
Zhenyu Li: Talk something about Ruslan Chagaev. I think he’s a very dangerous future opponent for you.
Wladimir: You know what, they gonna fight each other, Chagaev and Ibragimov. And I can’t tell you who is gonna be better because they are so similar to each other, their records, their size, their weight. I mean they are just like a copy. And they are both I believe southpaw. I think it’s a great thing that the two champions are fighting each other. So the heavyweight division is gonna be clearing up a little bit. So I wish I probably could fight the winner of this match.
Zhenyu Li: Since you are today's top heavyweight, most boxing fans would like to compare today's champion with the champions of yesterday. Could you describe to us how the fight will go when you meet with a prime time Mike Tyson?
Wladimir: I respect all the champions. I think it’s nonsense to compare myself with the others as to how the fight is gonna be. Of course I have certain arrogance and self confident as a champion in my time. It doesn’t matter who is gonna be in front of me. I’ll beat him up. Of course I respect my opponents a lot but I don’t want to overestimate my opponents. And I do respect them, so I don’t want to underestimate them. So I don’t want to compare myself to any other champions, or even possible fights. You know, you can do it. But I don’t wanna do it.
Zhenyu Li: The 2008 Beijing Olympics is coming up, since you were an Olympic gold medallist, will you help your countryman prepare for the boxing matches?
Wladimir: I don’t think I will have time or something like that. But I definitely would love to give them good motivation. I’d love to.
Zhenyu Li: Will you come to Beijing to watch the boxing matches then?
Wladimir: I would love to.
Zhenyu Li: I remember that you like Bruce Lee, a Chinese martial artist. How did you get to know him? Are there any stories?
Wladimir: Bruce Lee is an idol for many kids in our country. And of course, I watched all of Bruce Lee’s movies. They’re very exciting. And of course it’s also because Bruce Lee started with Karate. Unfortunately, because of his death…um…I didn't get a chance to meet him. But…I can say only positive things. But listen, I’ve been lucky and have met Jackie Chan. He’s the funniest artist. And you know, he’s got martial art, humor, I mean comedy. This combination makes him really special. I got a chance to meet him personally. He’s a fun guy, and a humble guy.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV