Interconti Champ Hinteregger risks it all vs. Matolcsi

29.09.04 - Sure, it was not the world-stage, but a staggering achievement of one of boxing’s unsung heros nonetheless when so-called clubfighter Gotthard Hinteregger, supposely closing in fast on the final curtain of his rather undistinguished career, wiped the floor with undefeated Italian Emanuele Grilli in May.

It was a live main event on Eurosport, netted Hinteregger the IBF Intercontinental superwelterweight crown and achieved in front of Grilli’s own fans. A fairy tale come true for the likeable Austrian, 24-6-1 (12), and one not even his manager Olaf Schroeder could have forecasted: “When Gotti signed with me, I just wanted to bring his career to a nice end because I like him very much. What a story he has now created!”. Now the question is: Will the fairy tale have a second chapter? This is because on October 8 in Brentwood, England, Hinteregger will face a tough first challenger in the shape of Hungarian hardman Jozsef Matolcsi. Read below what ‘The Cougar’, as Hinteregger is called by his fans, has to say.

Gotthard, it was quite some shock to outsiders when you knocked out undefeated Emanuel Grilli to become IBF Intercontinental champion last May!

For me it was the step that I always, all through my career, wanted to make. You know, win one of those belts that I only knew from television from a top organization. It was my biggest success in sports, my dream come true.

But at your age (37 years, by now), not many people expected you to achieve anything anymore.

Of course, no one believed in me. But you know what? Myself, I never lost belief in me! Never. And that made it all so much sweeter. But, wait a second, I’m lying when I say no one believed in me. My old granny in Vienna did! Big time! She ordered a satelite dish just to watch my title fight in Italy on Eurosport!

How hard was it to keep believing in yourself when you had lost the key-fights of your career so far then?

Oh, you bet it was hard. Especially since I always knew that I could do better if I could prepare like a professional. But life never was easy and I had bills to pay and thus needed to work often times when I should have been in the gym. I was really just a part-time pro and that could be frustrating…

How sure you were of victory over Grilli after having undergone the hardest preparation of your career?

I was sure I would win, but also aware that in every fight, anything can happen. And I was actually a bit surprised when Grilli had not more to offer, because I would have forcasted that something would happen in the second half of the fight.

Now comes your first challenger, Hungarian Jozsef Matolcsi. What are your thoughts about him?

He’s a strong boxer, no doubt. Very athletic, very physical. I respect him…

How do you adapt to now box on big shows with live television instead of small-hall cards?

That’s not a problem at all. When I’m in the ring, only the moment counts and you have no time to think about the outside world.

Do you have a prediction then?

Well, I suppose he will come out like a steamroller, so I gotta be very careful, very alert early on. But after the storm, I might start to hit him back – then let’s see what happens…

Anything you want to say to your fans and friends?

Just to keep your fingers crossed and think of me on October 8. I would really appreciate that.

Photo © Happiness reigned after Hinteregger knocks out Grilli.

Article posted on 28.09.2004

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