Boxing

Vitali Klitschko: the Greatest Heavyweight Champion of all Time; Marquez: I'll beat Pacquiao in the combat zone

By Roman Kolaczek: Boxing has been a mainstream sport for over a century. Many generations have had great heavyweight champions, many of them household names all over the world. Anytime a major fight between two outstanding heavyweights occurs, the same question arises: who is the greatest of all time? Today, most are saying that this extraordinary heavyweight is Muhammad Ali.

However, if you asked fans in the 1910s, you would get a different answer. They would probably have said Jack Johnson. A decade later, they would likely have said Jack Dempsey. By the 1940s, the answer would be Joe Louis, the great “Brown Bomber.” Later still, in the 1950s, many fans would have picked Rocky Marciano as the greatest. And of course, by the mid-1970s, most regarded Muhammad Ali as the greatest of all time. Since then, Ali has remained “The Greatest,” even in spite of many great champions following him, such as Larry Holmes in the 1980s, Mike Tyson in the 1980s and 1990s, Lennox Lewis in the 1990s, Evander Holyfield in the 1990s, and now, the Klitschko brothers.

As they say, Muhammad Ali could “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” However, without insulting Ali, it may be time to ask whether his qualities are still enough to define history’s greatest heavyweight champion. It may now be time to consider another warrior as the heavyweight division’s new “greatest.”

I propose that it is time to honor Vitali Klitschko as history’s all-time greatest heavyweight champion. No doubt, many will consider this suggestion bold. But let us look at the facts. Klitschko has fought most of the leading contenders, and after 15 years of boxing and 44 fights, he has an incredible 90% knockout percentage. Not only has Klitschko won most of his fights, but, incredibly, he has rarely lost a single round in any of his bouts. His only two career losses were due to injuries suffered in fights that he was handily winning. The two fighters who beat Klitschko – Chris Byrd and Lennox Lewis – were behind on the scorecards and on their way defeat when Klitschko was compelled to retire because of injuries, and only because of injuries.

In 2008, after four years of retirement, Klitschko launched a comeback, regaining the heavyweight title and demolishing all eight opponents he fought. Dangerous, highly rated fighters such as Samuel Peter, Chris Arreola, Juan Carlos Gomez, and Odlanier Solis, among others, have faced Klitschko, only to be pounded into TKO or KO defeat. That Klitschko could be so dominant after coming back from four years of inactivity is amazing. At the age of 40, Klitschko is still in perfect shape and continues to deliver the high quality athletic performances that are normally expected only from men ten years younger.

As champion, Klitschko ducks nobody. His opponents are limited only to those contenders who are at the very top of the WBC rankings. Remarkably, Klitschko is a champion that is willing to fight on the road, to defend in his challenger’s hometown. He recently defended his title against Polish hero Tomasz Adamek in Wroclaw, in an arena filled by 44,000 pro-Adamek fans. As usual, Klitschko demolished his challenger in dominant fashion.

Klitschko’s performances in the ring are more than sufficiently impressive to rank him alongside history’s greatest heavyweight champions, and to argue that he could have beaten anyone who ever fought. Equally striking, however, are Klitschko’s accomplishments and behavior outside of the ring. It is very rare, perhaps even unprecedented, that a heavyweight champion has matched Klitschko’s achievements in the public arena.

The champion is not focused just on athletic achievement. He is also a concerned citizen, determined to give back to his community as much as nature gave him in athletic talent. Klitschko’s record as a politician serves as an example. In his homeland of Ukraine, Klitschko is fighting for civil rights, democracy, freedom of speech, and the rule of law. He is an outspoken critic of corrupt politicians and those who abuse government power. In this battle, Klitschko does not use his fists. Rather, he fights through the activity of the political party he founded: the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform.

Next year, Klitschko will run again for the position of mayor of Kiev. He knows that the odds are against him: twice so far he has run and lost. But still, Klitschko refuses to take a passive position against the corrupt and anti-democratic powerbrokers who continue to influence politics in Ukraine. Klitschko’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law are obvious from his actions. Just last summer, for example, he left his training camp in Austria to make an emergency trip to Ukraine in order to protest against the unjust imprisonment of former premier Yulia Tymoshenko. Given that the Adamek fight was only weeks away, it is amazing that Klitschko was willing to suspend his training at that time. Even more impressive is that, in publicly defending Tymoshenko, Klitschko knowingly risked being imprisoned himself on political charges. But just as Klitschko never runs from any boxing challenger, he does not shirk from threats in the political arena.

Klitschko’s courage in supporting Tymoshenko gave hope and confidence to those Ukrainians who are determined to promote political change in their country. They know that among their ranks is a fearless fighter: Dr. Iron Fist, Vitali Klitschko.

Klitschko is not just a heavyweight boxing champion; he is also heavyweight scholar. In 1996, he graduated from the Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky Pedagogical Institute and was accepted into the postgraduate study program at Kiev University. On 29 February 2000, he presented his doctoral thesis on "Talent and Sponsorship in Sports” at the Kiev University of Physical Science and Sports, and his Ph.D in Sports Science was conferred. Klitschko is the first heavyweight champion in history to hold a Ph.D. Obviously, as a role model to youth internationally, Klitschko stands for educational accomplishment as much as he represents dominance in boxing.

In business, too, Klitschko’s championship character is known and respected. Together with his brother and co-heavyweight champion Wladimir, and with KMG CEO Bernd Boente, Klitschko is staging boxing events of the finest and most competitive caliber. KMG also signed a multimillion-dollar deal with German television network RTL, an arrangement recently extended to include the Klitschko brothers’ next five fights. Vitali Klitschko is not just a great, dominant champion, student, and politician: he is a huge success as a boxing promoter as well.

Charity has not escaped the champion’s attention. Klitschko and his brother Wladimir are involved in many charity events and organizations worldwide. Both brothers are members of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, including Laureus’s charity committee. They have worked for UNESCO’s Programme for the Education of Children in Need. Vitali and Wladimir have also sponsored charity and community outreach projects of their own, including the Klitschko Brother Foundation.

Admirable, also, is that Klitschko is a genuine family man. Together with his beautiful wife Natalie, he has three children: Yegor-Daniel, Elizabeth-Victoria, and Max (named after the former world heavyweight champion Max Schmeling). It is a credit to the champion’s character that his marriage is free of scandal, which is unusual for famous athletes and entertainers today.

As a caring father, husband, and son, Vitali always takes time out from his busy schedule to be with loved ones. He stayed by his father’s bedside at all moments earlier this year, when the elder Klitschko was dying of cancer. The champion’s noble character that is evident to everyone, including those who are not part of his family. Klitschko is welcoming of all people, and is extremely tolerant and patient with everyone he meets.

I have often seen Vitali at public events, training camps, and at parties after his fights. Treating people with respect is his priority. It comes naturally to him. At Klitschko’s training camp in Austria this summer, for instance, I was amazed that he finished almost every gym session by sitting down, together with his long-term coach Fritz Sdunek, to converse with the throngs of fans who sought his attention. He came as a truly magnanimous human being who has respect for all who approached him.

Vitali Klitschko, the world heavyweight champion, is an impressive person. As a fighter, he never needs to use big words or to burn $100 bills to get attention. His actions in the ring speak more than words could say. In every respect, Klitschko, as champion, has conducted himself in exemplary fashion, inside and outside the ring. The time has come to consider that Klitschko may indeed be the greatest heavyweight champion that boxing has yet seen.

Sure, there have been champions who were humble people, who had great careers and characters, who did charity work, and who were active as politicians. But none of them did all of this at the same time…while they were still champions.

But now we have a great heavyweight champion who does it all. Vitali Klitschko, The Greatest of All Time!

Juan Manuel Marquez conference call quotes

BOB ARUM: Welcome to this conference call with the legendary Juan Manuel Márquez and Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristáin. We are 10 days away from the big fight when Manny Pacquiao faces off against Juan Manuel Márquez. There has been great anticipation and I want to thank HBO for the great job they have done, particularly with 24/7 where they have highlighted this event and it really has had so much substance to it and everywhere I go people have told me how much they have loved the show. I am proud to be on this call with Márquez who has proven to be one of the great fighters of our era and on November 12 I can tell you it will be the fight of his life.

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: We have had a great training camp and we look forward to November 12th. It’s a big fight and I think preparation has been one of our best.

NACHO BERISTÁIN: I believe this is the best training camp he has had in his whole career and we are going to give Pacqiao a great fight.

Do you think this will settle questions?

NACHO BERISTÁIN: Without question, we have prepared ourselves to win this fight again. They can say what they want. They are great trainers and he is a great fighter. If they feel they won the first two fights so be it – we feel the same way and that’s the way you should go into a fight.

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: That’s why we are doing this third fight. The first two were very close and this fight should end all doubt. We are not the only ones saying we won the fights. There are a lot of fans and media out there saying the same thing- that we won those two fights.

Have the distractions from the last few days from Conte been a distraction?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: Not at all. Victor Conte can say what he wants. Is it a fact? I think the lawyers will have their hands on that case. As for me I am just preparing myself to be ready for a fight. If he can present some facts, then we can have the attorneys take care of that.

Tell us how each fighter has changed…

NACHO BERISTÁIN: I think Pacquiao has become a better technician as a boxer. I think Márquez has become more mature as a fighter and now fights at a higher level and has gotten better. At his age sometime you wonder if he is focused for the fight but I know that he is – he’s always going to be focused and he’s always going to be ready for a fight. We are looking to give you guys a great fight and he’ll fight like he’s 24. I think Pacquiao’s punches are thrown technically better – he is not as wild as he used to be. He looks like he knows what he is doing and that is a direct impact of Freddie Roach. He is throwing a much better right hook.

How do you feel going into this fight after the first two?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: I feel very happy with all the training I have done for this fight. We are going to clear all the doubts from the first two fights and I feel very good about it.

Would you have liked for this fight to come earlier in your career?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: I don’t believe age has anything to do with it. I prepare myself very well and I’m going to be just as good as I would have been a few years ago. As long as I had the good training camp that I had I’ll be fine.

There is extra motivation for Pacquiao about what you said about the first two fights…

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: Well, if he is upset about what I said about winning the first two fights – I am upset that I didn’t get the decision. I am motivated just as much as he is. We all have opinions and my opinion is that I didn’t get the decisions I deserved.

Márquez had problems moving up in weight to fight Mayweather – why do you think this is OK?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: I had problems moving up but I would rather fight Pacquiao three or four more times than fight Mayweather once. Mayweather is a defensive fighter – he doesn’t let you fight, but we know Pacquiao comes to fight and he is a spectacular fighter, he is always going to give you a fight and that’s why I know it will be a war between us.

How do you feel about the news regarding Hernandez?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: I knew that he trained many elite athletes before I met him. We talked about what I needed to do and I was very happy about what he told me I needed to do. He’s a very professional guy and we work very well together. I think those things being said about him by Conte and Ariza I think are legal issues that he is going to have to deal with. I am just preparing myself to fight.

NACHO BERISTÁIN: I have the most respect for the work he has done for us. When Juan Manuel comes to the gym he has the power and energy – a guy that I know I can work with and will be ready. That’s why I think we will win the fight. I have the utmost respect for what he has done and how Juan has responded to his work.

Are we going to see a difference in power?

NACHO BERISTÁIN: We knew we needed to do some things differently. We had been doing the same things for 15 years and we needed a change. We are very happy with the results and we think it is going to make me a better fighter and I am going to be well-prepared for this 3rd fight with Pacquiao.

Why didn’t you know about Hernandez’ background before now?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: I just know that when I met him his background was with elite athletes. We discussed what I needed to do. I didn’t find out anything about this stuff that has been written until the last few days. It was big news to me but it is a shame because of all the work I have done and preparation has been thrown into the trash can by this guy Conte and Ariza by saying these things. I worked very hard but I’m not going to stop training for the fight. Whatever testing they want to do, blood or Olympic, I am ready to do it. We’ll do it, no problem, as long as he does it too.

BOB ARUM: Many of you are really behind the times. Conte and Hernandez were implicated in the use of steroids in the so-called BALCO case. The two of them are the least to be involved in steroids since they have learned their lesson. Secondly, people who understand getting athletes ready know now that you don’t use steroids, not because they are good guys, but because naturally supplements, used correctly, have the same effect of steroids without the bad part -- without the rage and the future health concerns. So the conditioners who know what they are doing wouldn’t touch steroids because they are not as effective as the natural substances and the sophisticated training methods now used. You are talking about things that existed five or ten years ago that are not currently being used.

How do you get inside against a guy like Pacquiao?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: Freddie Roach also if looks at the same films that we have he noticed that I always won the “combat zone” as I like to call it. It is important that we do it again but it’s not going to be easy. It is going to be tough but you have to know how to do it and when to do it.

How do you take the right hook away from Manny?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: Obviously when we fought the first two times the right lead was the one we had to worry about – that was the big one, the one we tried to nullify. It looks like he has a better right hand now. You have to go up in the ring with the mentality to be ready for both. Focus on what you have to do and be ready for both hands.

How did you bounce back from Mayweather loss?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: That fight with Mayweather, obviously he was a defensive fighter with long arms – a difficult guy to fight. He doesn’t really exchange and you have to take the fight for what it was. But we were able to win some fights and get back to the one we always wanted to do. The fans wanted to see and it and the press wanted to see this third fight. I think our styles match and make great fights because we both want to fight and we both want to win. I think I’m ready. It’s a big fight and it’s coming up pretty soon and I’m looking forward to giving the fans a great fight.

What do you think you can do different in this fight?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: I think it is a question of getting stronger and keeping the speed. That is key to victory – being strong and as quick as he is.

How do you feel about the odds 9:1?

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: It doesn’t do anything for me. People can make bets and if they like to odds that is fine with me. It has nothing to do with my fight. I have to go into the fight with the mentality that I have to win each round and if the opportunity comes I go for the knockout. I am not going to hesitate if the opportunity is there.

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: Without a doubt the fight is personal for me too. I didn’t get the two decisions I thought I won. I think I will win this fight because I should have won the first two. It is going to be great because we both want this fight and we are going to give it our all. The winners are going to be the fans because we are two guys that are going to go in there and give it our all.

NACHO BERISTÁIN: We have never doubted that Manny Pacquiao is a great fighter. If anyone says anything about him we have always defended him. We think he’s a great fighter and athlete but now they are saying this about Juan, like Bob Arum says, there are different ways to get fighters ready for a fight. Juan looks very strong and has worked very hard to get that way. We have done it the right way and don’t understand why anyone would doubt that.

JUAN MANUEL MÁRQUEZ: I worked very hard to win this and fight and to give everyone a great fight and I am going to be ready in a few days.

****************************************

Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs), the lone representative of the Sarangani province in the Philippines, is in his final 10 days of intense training for his defense of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title against professional nemesis and three-division world champion Juan Manuel Márquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs), of México City. Pacquiao and Márquez, with world titles in 11 weight divisions between them, will go toe-to-toe on Saturday, November 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev. Pacquiao-Márquez III will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.

Remaining closed circuit tickets, priced at $50, are on sale and available at all Las Vegas MGM Resorts properties.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with MP Promotions, Márquez Boxing, Tecate and MGM Grand, The Pacquiao-Márquez III world championship telecast, which begins at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® and will be available to more than 92 million pay-per-view homes. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View, a division of Home Box Office, Inc., is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry.

Episode No. 3 of the all-access reality series “24/7 Pacquiao/Márquez” premieres This Saturday! November 5, at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. Episodes No. 1 and No. 2 are available at HBO ON DEMAND® and HBO GO® in addition to multiple replays on the network. The four-part series premieres on three consecutive Saturday nights before the finale airs the night before the welterweight championship showdown in Las Vegas.

For Pacquiao-Márquez III fight week updates, log on to www.toprank.com and www.hbo.com.

Promising prospects Diaz & Livingston In action tonight

NEW YORK (November 5, 2011) - A significant part of the future for promotional company Boxing 360, undefeated prospects Joel Diaz and DonYil Livingston, will be back in action again tonight (Sat., Nov. 5) at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, California.

Diaz (5-0, 4 KOs), a super featherweight, takes on cagey Mexican veteran Manuel "Diablito" Sarabia, while Livingston (6-0-1, 3 KOs) faces Thomas Haines (5-9, 3 KOs), in a pair of six-round bouts. Diaz and Livingston both live and fight out of Palmdale, California.

"Julio and DonYil are closing out strong years," Boxing 360 CEO/founder Mario Yagobi said. "We're very high on both of these prospects and expect them to make a lot of noise in 2012. We're grateful to promoter Nasser Niavaroni for putting them on his Uppercut Boxing Promotions card."

Diaz has registered first-round knockouts in each of his last three fights, his last against Esteban Nichol in Las Vegas this past July. Joel had an 84-10 amateur record and won seven California titles.

The 27-year-old Livingston (6-0-1, 3 KOs), fighting out of Palmdale, California, was a highly decorated US amateur boxer who had a 178-23 (89 KOs) amateur record, including gold medal performances in the National Silver Gloves (1996, 1998 and 2000), National Junior Golden Gloves (1995-2000), 2000 National & International Junior Olympic s, 2001 National Under-19 Tournament, and 2004 Ringside World Championships.

Livingston, whose cousin is world champion Andre Ward, is coming off of his most notable victory as a pro on October 15 versus previously undefeated Kurtiss Colvin (6-0) on the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson undercard at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Livingston made a strong statement, defeating Colvin by way of a six-round decision (59-55, 58-56, 58-56).

Other members of Boxing 360's stable include IBF World Light Junior Lightweight Champion Amanda "The Real Deal" Serrano, IBF #6 heavyweight Maurice Sugar Moe" Harris, WBC #4 super bantamweight Leon "Hurry Up" Moore, former International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight champion Alejandro "Naco" Berrio, unbeaten welterweight prospect Vitaliy "Demyan" Demyanenko, WBC Caribbean & NY State super middleweight champion Lennox "2 Sharpe" Allen, Dominican lightweight champion Eudy "AK47" Bernardo, KO king Tyrone Brunson, Nick Casal, Mike Mollo, and "King" David Estrada.

Go to www.Boxing360.com for more information about Diaz, Livingston, Boxing 360 or any of its other fighters as well as scheduled events.

Article posted on 04.11.2011



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