By Frank Warren
Former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko bagged plenty of column inches in the news sections this week following his declaration to stand as a presidential candidate in the forthcoming democratic elections in Ukraine this May.
It triggered memories of my first dealings with 'Dr Iron fist' when he landed in the UK in June 1999 as mandatory challenger to reigning WBO champion Herbie Hide.
It was Vitali's world championship debut and, at almost 6ft 8in tall, I recall he cut a quiet but imposing figure. He was extremely articulate and, in addition to Ukrainian, was fluent in Russian, German and English.
Nevertheless, as with most Hide fights, the promotion at the Docklands Arena in Millwall was proving a hard sell so, with Klitschko residing in Hamburg, we opted for the lowest common denominator to push the England versus Germany angle.
Hide wore a replica 1966 England football shirt and, for the final press conference, at the Houses of Parliament and organized a Winston Churchill impersonator to serve as compere.
We also recruited the leading Queen lookalike of the day an when she walked in, Vitali believed it was the real thing and bowed in deference.
When the action commenced, Klitschko easily blew Hide away inside two rounds to kick start a career that saw him become a two time World Champion with 13 successful world title defences.
The Klitschko's never fought each other, so we will never know if he was superior to his equally dominant brother Wladimir. However, Vitali was certainly sturdier, hit harder and confronted stiffer opposition. He just shades it for me.
Ironically, if his political career takes off, he might one day meet the authentic version of our esteemed monarch. Conversely, Hide continues to languish at Her Majesty's pleasure courtesy of a conviction for dealing cocaine.
One senses that Scotland's Ricky Burns will require a huge helping hand from his home crowd who'll inhabit the SECC in Glasgow this evening if he's to have any chance of retaining his WBO lightweight title against mandatory challenger Terence Crawford of Omaha, USA.
The 30 year old from Coatbridge looked dire in his two previous gigs – a nine round retirement win over moderate Puerto Rican Jose Gonzalez last May and a fortuitous 12 round draw against Mexico's fringe contender Ray Beltran last September.
In the latter, 'Rickster' said his jaw broke in round two and was dropped heavily in round eight before eloping with a decision that reeked of hometown favor.
While the Scot should've recuperated physically, there is no knowing what psychological damage remains. His mindset certainly won't have been eased by the recent furor over a racist letter sent in his name to Olympic Minister Tessa Jowell or his pending court date with myself for breach of contract, due for this summer. The bookies have enlisted him as a 9-4 outsider tonight.
Twenty-six year old challenger Crawford is unbeaten in 22 with 16 stoppages and, trust me, if Team Burns could've found a way to swerve him, they'd have taken it.
Promoted by US giants Top Rank, the Yank brings a reputation as a silver quick and highly skilled counter puncher. During a stellar amateur career, he scalped elite reigning world champions Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia.
However, while Crawford's talent is incontestable, this is his first pro fight outside the US. He is still to venture past ten rounds and Burns represents his most seasoned and accomplished foe by some distance.
He only arrived in the UK on Monday and, by all accounts, has been truculent and uncooperative since. He has a dark past, too. In 2008, he survived a bullet graze to the skull after his involvement in a dice game turned messy.
Removed from his comfort zone, the raucous Tartan Army will provide the sternest test of Crawford's temperament. Ricky has a big heart and won't be found lacking, but expect Crawford to pass the test and take Burns' title.
Vasyl Lomachenko was probably the greatest amateur boxer of all-time.
Despite the precarious nature of judging in the vested code, the 26 year old Ukrainian southpaw still lost only once in 397 amateur bouts – avenging that defeat twice – and captured two world titles and a brace of Olympic gold medals en route.
Tonight 'Loma' attempts to smash all records by capturing a professional world title in just his second gig when he challenges Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight championship at The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas.
Lomachenko is yet to travel past round five whereas the grizzled Mexican champion has successfully negotiated the 12 round championship trip five times in a 55 fight pro career that dates back to 1996.
It is a measure of the Ukrainian's potential then that bookmakers have him as a 9-2 on favourite. The fight shall be broadcast live in the UK on BoxNation.
Earlier in the evening, the Channel of Champions – now available in HD – delivers live action of the German grudge match between WBO super-middleweight king Robert Stieglitz and former champion Arthur Abraham from Magdeburg. The pair has warred twice before with a win apiece.
James DeGale may have an Olympic gold medal in his living room cabinet but his profile has dipped far beneath that of his domestic super-middleweight rivals Carl Froch and George Groves.
Though rated in the top five by three of the major sanctioning committees, 'Chunky', now 28, continues to tread water in relative obscurity.
Tonight, he defends his WBC Silver belt against unbeaten but unranked Dutchman Gevorg Khatchikian at the City Academy Sports Club in Bristol. Channel Five broadcast live.
New York promoter Bob Arum is widely credited with building up the dominant Hispanic market within the US fight scene.
And at the ripe old age of 82, the Havard Law School graduate still seeks fresh fields to farrow.
His latest venture involves cracking the untapped Chinese scene using double Olympic champion and national hero Zou Shiming as his totem.
Based out of the gambling haven of Macau, Zou has won four straight with his last three fights drawing a combined TV audience of 920million in Asia!
The books took a caning last week.
Cruiserweight Tony Conquest sprung an upset to comprehensively outscore favoured Aussie Daniel Ammann at 'The Bashes' clash at the York Hall last Saturday.
On the same evening, up at the Hull Ice Arena, former Premier League star Curtis Woodhouse defied the odds and his substantial mockers to land the British light-welter title after a brutal 12 round scrap with Bristol's Darren Hamilton.
Once an England under 21 footballer, 'The Troll Hunter' from Driffield, 33, is rumoured to have punted five grand on himself reaching British title status at odds of 50-1 in 2006. To have risen so high in two completely separate disciplines is a phenomenal achievement.
To subscribe to BoxNation visit www.boxnation.com Tags: Vitali Klitschko , Frank Warren , James DeGale , Ricky Burns , Orlando Salido , Terence Crawford , Vasyl Lomachenko , Lomachenko-Salido , Lomachenko vs. Salido , Burns-Crawford , Burns vs. Crawford