Klitschko on the race for belts, state of heavyweights
Posted: Thursday October 19, 2006 1:46PM; Updated: Thursday October 19, 2006 2:09PM
Wladimir Klitschko (left) soldiered on after a suprising loss to Lamon Brewster in 2004.
John W. McDonough/SI
Six years ago Wladimir Klitschko was being touted as the future of the heavyweight division. The Ukrainian fight doctor -- he has a PhD in sports science from the University of Kiev -- was 24 and had just won the negligible WBO championship from Chris Byrd.
But in the winter of 2003, after five successful title defenses, he was upended and upset by Corrie Sanders of South Africa. The paunchy, puffing journeyman knocked Klitschko down four times in scoring a second-round TKO.
A chastened Dr. Steelhammer won a couple of tune-ups before facing Lamon Brewster for the vacated WBO title in the spring of '04. He was leading on the cards until Round 5, when the American knocked him down and out with a thunderous right.
Despite calls for him to retire, Klitschko muddled on, winning his next three bouts -- two just barely -- and earning a shot at the renascent Byrd's IBF belt. On April 22, he reclaimed a piece of the heavyweight crown with a convincing seven-round TKO.
Klitschko's first defense will be against Calvin Brock on Nov. 11 in Madison Square Garden. The undefeated Brock, 31, has a degree in finance from UNC Charlotte and is known as the Boxing Banker. Klitschko hopes to end the bout by leaving a sizeable deposit on the challenger's chin.
SI.com: Your career has been marked by sharp, sudden shifts of fortune. By now you must have motion sickness.
Klitschko: I enjoy the roller-coaster ride. Some people have had doubts about my ability and prospects, but I like criticism. I love it. I love to have opposite sides.
SI.com: After you lost to Brewster, Freddie Roach, your onetime trainer, thought it might be time for you to call it a career.
Klitschko: It was said I was a dead man walking: no stamina, no chin, no heart. I don't take it personally. I think of such criticism as philosophical and jokey. I know exactly my strong and my weak sides, so I work on my weak sides.
SI.com: Freddie thought your problem might be psychological. He suggested you see a hypnotist.
Klitschko: I'd rather hypnotize my opponent. My best hypnotist and psychologist is myself. If something is mental, like a puzzle, I like to find the right key for it.
SI.com: So why did you lose those two fights?
Klitschko: With Sanders, I got too much success and was bored of boxing. I no longer had any challenge or excitement. Against Brewster, I had a sugar illness -- my blood sugar was too low. In the fifth round, I just collapsed.