WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO/SULTAN IBRAGIMOV TRANSCRIPT FROM 2/12/08 CONFERENCE CALL FOR THE UNIFICATION, FEB. 23, AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
Question: It's the first unification since Lewis vs. Holyfield, desire to unify the title, what does it mean to pick up one of the other major
"I will be honest. I am looking at it as a sporting event, each fight is a different story. I enjoy the preparation, everything we are preparing in camp, the strategy, and then to accomplish that and to have success. I really enjoy what I do.
"It's a unification fight, to me that's not important right now, but to deliver a great performance because I love what I do. Of course it's important, especially for the boxing fan and even for sports, the sport of boxing needs THE heavyweight champion, I am looking forward to the guy who holds one title, as a boxing fan. I am talking about consistency, I am looking to winning the title and beating everyone in the ring."
Q If you get this one should you be THE champion
"You guys can consider me from the outside, you as a big boxing fan, and decide who is the best, who's the worst, I do my job, to be as good and to deliver as good a performance as I can".
Q-Everyone is picking Wlad to win, does that make it difficult to respect Sultan as an opponent and maybe over look him?
"I do have respect for my opponent, it is important, it's a great sporting event, a historical event, and it is a charity event. I want to say thank you to everyone who has participated the kids on the streets of the Bronx will win the fight.
Q Can this guy sneak by you, are you taking him lightly?
That's totally wrong attitude, this guy is very intelligent and a very good fighter, hr doesn't look impressive, but he is very effective, I will not underestimate him, he won the silver medal at the Olympics.
Manny – "I understand what you are saying, looking at (Sultan) him closely, I think he will be the best fighter Wladimir fought in his pro career; he is not a big guy but he knows how to win big fights over big guys, has hand speed, he explodes and moves away quickly, he makes most big guys' size a handicap, I told Wlad this will be the best you have fought. We are not taking him lightly."
Does it frustrate you that high profile guys aren't out there
Manny: I agree that (Wlad) he would transcend boxing, it does frustrate me, I consider Wladimir one of the best heavyweights in history, moves on his feet and accurate punching. Lennox didn't have a marquee fighter. There are no 'names' out there, so he has to try to be the unified champion."
Wladimir: "I am not frustrated at all, I am just getting ready for the fight in two weeks. I am healthy and ready to fight
Has the preparation been different for this fight than others?
"Of course, each preparation each fighter is different, he's a southpaw, shorter, means he's faster. Even though you have a routine over and over and over, you have to create something new."
Manny you were in last unification in Lewis' corner, difference and similarity
Manny –"Two different fights, I have a bigger guy, Holyfield predicted a third round knockout, Ibragimov has fast hands and also knows how to move in and out with his feet, Wlad has had to spend a lot of time working on his footwork. We know every thing Ibragimov does, you have to do that when you are on the top level.
"I am excited about being involved in a unification again, and in NY again, very exciting, I find Ibragimov is a much bigger threat to Wladimir than I though Holyfield would be to Lennox Lewis
"Mayweather has done a great job with Ibragimov, he has actually improved a lot since winning the title. He has taught him how to fight without taking risks, he moves in and out very well.
You have worked with tall guys like Hearns, etc, compare?
"The difference with Wlad is that he had a great amateur background, the first thing I did was work with his footwork, and he said I have been doing this since 14 years old. His punches are much shorter and accurate, a short straight line like missiles, hard to see his punches, than any other big guy I have worked with. Good balance, doesn't do a lot of things, moves in and out gracefully, without wasting a lot of motion, he would be a big threat to a heavyweight of any era. But different than any tall fighters I ever worked with. A pleasure to work with.
Q—Cerebral person how does that work into his training
"You threw me off with the word cerebral,( laughs), I don't have a college degree, he's very similar to Lennox, very detailed, that has made him hesitant to let his missles go, wants it to be perfect. They were both chess players, very detailed. Wladimir wants to discuss it at night, go over it in the morning and then try it in the ring. Rehearse, learn new techniques and then perform, he gets more excited about that then his talent.
Q-Will Ibragimov be aggressive?
Wlad—"Like any other fighter, I am expecting that he can jump right out and be explosive and aggressive, I am ready for either, a 12 round fight because it's a world championship, but I doubt it will go 12 rounds."
Thoughts on heavyweight division, an influx of European fighters in the last decade?
Wlad –"I think if in Cuba pro sports would be allowed, and they went pro, we would have some Cuban fighters out there, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, boxers got involved in pro sports."
Manny – "The fact that these guys have solid amateur backgrounds, Americans like McCline and Rahman had only a few amateur fights, all of these guys were medal winners with a great amateur background. Not only because a lot of the guys are playing football and basketball, but we don't have a good amateur background. Even look at Lewis, he went to the Olympics twice, solid amateur backgrounds."
Wladimir on age?
"I am just entering into my best time in boxing, 31, not thinking about retirement yet.
Do you still feel the same after hard run or long camp
"I was thinking about it, the age… believe it or not, I am getting faster, at 31 faster than 21, maybe it's the experience, I can't complain about my age, my ability to punch and react is better."
When you were sitting down and thinking what's next, was there a particular guy that you wanted, to fight for the unification?
"Through all the y ears, we have been working together, what to do, how to do it, how to react, we all knew that the best shot was the title shot, the unification, we had to fight another champion. Realized to be the best, let's just prove it. I felt I could accomplish a lot, get the best fighters out there. I feel thankful to Ibragimov too, it's not an easy fight, but I am thankful, the deal with them wasn't difficult, we pretty much agreed in a short amount of time to all the points of the deal, it wasn't complicated."
Put into perspective is there a nationalist rivalry, would it be as big as a Puerto Rican vs. a Mexican, how big of a deal is it
"Very special in the region of Eastern Europe, this fight is very special, but there is no bad blood between the Ukranians and Russians, each country is rooting for their champ but I do have a lot of fans in Russia and never heard anything bad, no bad blood, it doesn't matter who is in the corner of the other side of ring, color, country, I just care about performance it's art, we do things in a certain way in preparation and accomplish it in the same way in the fight.
Sultan Ibragimov/Boris Grinberg
Is it the toughest fight of career
"Yes, because it's a unification fight."
Boris –"Each fight is different, don't forget during the Austin fight, new coach, Jeff Mayweather, everything is different, American school, he was a very good amateur fighter now he is a very good professional fighter. Sultan was already a pro, Jeff Mayweather made his start boxing."
Why is it important that it's a unification fight?
Sultan "Yes sir, people want to see one champion, I wanted to show the people just one champion, nobody tried to do this, the fight with Wladimir will be a unification, I hope if we win the next fight will be another championship , me, Waldimir for the people the next fight should be another champion."
Should the winner be declared the champion of the world
"I want to show the people, you will see the next heavyweight champion of the world."
Boris – "Sultan is the nicest guy in the world, he is thinking about the people, he asks why are there so many champions. It is very difficult to make this fight. People need one champion like Rocky Marciano and Mike Tyson.