Wladimir Klitschko Talks Mayweather, Marciano and Knocking Out Teeth
Wladimir Klitschko is the most dominant heavyweight in decades, a six-foot-six tactician who hasn’t been rattled since winning boxing’s WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO championships. His older brother Vitali has become the mayor of Kiev, and his fianceé Hayden Panettiere recently gave birth to their first child. Still, when we caught up with him a week and a half before Saturday’s title defense against the undefeated Bryant Jennings (10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO), he quickly expressed his disappointment.
“Unfortunately, training camp is almost over,” he says as the conversation begins. Training camp? “I eat, I sleep, I exercise on schedule, and it’s amazing. Otherwise, when I’m out of training camp, I live a life that’s unpredictable.”
This is true. Besides winning an Olympic gold medal and 63 professional fights, Klitschko has curated the Ukrainian pavilion at the Venice Biennale and earned a doctorate in sports science. Our interview is brief, but he approaches it with the careful intelligence of someone who has once defended a dissertation. Even when he claims that no one can stop him, the 39-year-old champ doesn’t seem to be bragging – he’s simply examined the results and come to the same conclusion as everyone but his next opponent.
You’ve easily defeated every top heavyweight from the last 10 years. Do you ever wish for better competition?
Believe it or not, even when my fights looked kind of one-sided, they were all good and great. I just do not let the other fighters open up and do not let them be monsters in the ring. If I’m well prepared, there’s nothing that can stop me. Do I wish for more challenges and more competition? I’m getting it. It’s not something that I’m missing. I’m getting challenges all the time, and if I allowed them to do what they want to do, then those fights would have been really tough. But before they get anything, before they bite me, I better knock those teeth out – and it’s gonna be painful. [Pauses] That was a sarcastic way of saying it.
What has been your toughest fight since you became champion?
I’m always expecting that my next fight is gonna be my toughest fight. I’m always expecting that my challengers are going to be better than they are, and they are usually better because it’s their last chance and they’re very motivated. But it’s not about somebody giving me the toughest time. There’s only one person that can give me the toughest time, and that’s myself. If I’m not getting along with myself, if I have to struggle with myself and am not in agreement with myself, that is the toughest opponent that I have ever faced in my life. I think that people who have taken on challengers will understand what I’m talking about.
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