Normally at a press conference only the fighters of the main event are in the spotlight. But this was not the case on Wednesday afternoon in Erfurt. The spectators of the big fight night on May 5 are also keen to find out which trainer comes up with the better strategy for the world championship bout between the cruiserweights Marco Huck and Ola Afolabi. Photos by Karina Hessland.
Hence the two training legends of German boxing, Ulli Wegner and Fritz Sdunek, did not hold back at the conference. But before they got started, the WBO champion himself had a few things to say. “Ola Afolabi is a really tough guy. But mentally I am very strong. Therefore he won´t get my title,” said Huck. This is the second time that the 27-year-old will be boxing at the Messehalle in Erfurt and he is extremely happy to do so. His first fight here, back in August 2010, ended with a KO victory over the American Matt Godfrey. “The fans here are extremely enthusiastic about boxing so it is amazing that they will get to witness such a great show.”
But of course Ola Afolabi has a very different view and already sees himself as the new WBO cruiserweight champion. “My experience is now so big, due to the professional surroundings of Fritz Sdunek and K2 promotions, that it is not possible for me to walk out of the ring as the loser. I will give Marco a boxing lesson and if he tries anything crazy I will knock him out”, said the Brit.
Fritz Sdunek, Afolabi`s trainer, is looking forward to his third encounter with his rival Ulli Wegner. Back in 2000, he won the first battle with Wegner when Vitali Klitschko fought off Timo Hoffmann. In August 2007, Wegner then got one back on Sdunek as his prodigy Arthur Abraham knocked out Khoren Gevor in round eleven who back then was coached by Sdunek. “I am very excited to once again see Ulli in the opposite corner,” said Sdunek. And he is not surprised by the optimism of his own fighter Afolabi. “Ola lives in Hollywood. They do talk very fondly of themselves over there. Also Marco´s break after the Povetkin encounter at the heavyweight division was quite short. That must have taken its toll and it might be too early for him to take on one of my fighters. On Saturday we will leave the arena victorious and I will be in the lead with 2:1 against Ulli.”
But Wegner, who just turned 70 last Thursday, was not just going to take this little tease quietly. “The challenges in the cruiserweight division are much bigger than the heavyweights,” according to the nine-time trainer-of-the-year. “And it is a pleasant coincidence that the coach of Marco`s challenger is my old friend Fritz.” Wegner continued: “Both men have grown since their last encounter back in 2009. Not too long ago, I have been praising Marco for sticking to the tactics during his fights. If he manages to do the same again on Saturday he will win once again.”
Super-Middleweight Robert Stieglitz is also planning to leave the ring victorious. The WBO champion will face off with the Australian Nader Hamdan. The winner of the bout will then have to face Arthur Abraham, the mandatory challenger, in the next fight.
“Right know I am not even thinking about facing Arthur,“ said Stieglitz. “I am only concentrating on the next fight. As soon as I have won the bout on Saturday night, we can start talking about Arthur Abraham.”
But his opponent Nader Hamdan is planning to grab his chance with both hands. “I didn’t think twice about accepting the fight as I have nothing to lose.”
The third part of the main event, the fight for the vacant European Heavyweight Title, also promises to be very exciting. Kubrat Pulev, the prodigy of coach Otto Ramin, also knows that it will be a thrilling encounter. “I don´t want to say too much about the fight. The only thing I will say though is that I will win,” said the 30-year-old.
The former heavyweight champion of Europe, Alexander Dimitrenko, was very optimistic himself. “I have been in this business for quite a while now and I am not even in my thirties yet. I have been through ups and downs. Therefore experience-wise I am in front and it will show on Saturday.”