IT still rankles Wladimir Klitschko to see Tyson Fury occupying his throne as the heavyweight boxing kingpin. “I’m embarrassed for myself making this mistake and losing the fight to Tyson Fury because he is not a heavyweight champion that I want to look up to and be proud of. The statements that he made are embarrassing. He is going to have for a second time a big stage,” Klitschko said. “Whatever nonsense and stupidity is going to come out of his mouth is just embarrassing to me.”
He is determined to win back his titles. “I’m on a mission,” he promises. “I will not look beyond Tyson Fury… You have to see it. Because there’s not going to be repetition. I’m not going to stand there, no, I will be present.”
Wladimir has turned 40 but he promises, once again, that “age is just a number”. Klitschko is adamant that now he is entering a new lease of life. “I have been doing this sport professionally altogether for 26 years, I cannot complain about my health and I’m still capable and able to compete, I feel great actually. I’m 40 years old but I feel great,” he said. “I’m happy about fighting here at the Manchester Arena, in the backyard of Fury because I’m expecting more Fury fans in the arena when I’m going to walk in. That gives me such great motivation, I prefer to fight here instead of Germany, Ukraine and the States, where I have a lot of followers. I like this as a matter of fact and I’m looking forward to my revenge.”
That’s an indication that Klitschko is starting to embrace the unaccustomed role of challenger. What though, you wonder, can he change for the rematch? “I would say everything,” Wladimir answered. He insists he has shifted his mindset. He’s not defending any more. “I’ve been successful for a very long time and I definitely have developed certain skills and thoughts and attitudes of defending my titles and defending my titles.
“Somewhere a drop of water, or many drops of water can destroy a stone. So defending the titles, that was the main mistake, in a certain sort of way.
“I made a mistake, I lost, my attitude has changed. Now I’m a challenger. I’m the one that needs to conquer who’s going to stand in the arena on July 9 across from me and not defending.
“It’s got to be a different fight. I’ve had enough time to reload and I will rebounce.”
“I’m looking forward, I’m not afraid, I know the risks and you know when, in matter of fact, I love right now where I’m at,” he concluded brightly. “You know what I’m enjoying it. It’s challenging and I love the challenge.
“As I said, there’s going to be a lot of different things, especially the result. The end result of the fight is going to be different, the champion’s going to be different.”
You get the sense that a weight has lifted from Klitschko. “I feel lighter,” he simply said. “I feel better, I don’t have this pressure. As I said, defending is in a certain way pressure and I was unifying, I was doing the whole job, it’s pressure that’s not there any more. But it’s a different, positive pressure that makes me not stand still but move forward.”
Being heavyweight champion of the world is a burden of sorts, perhaps one that Tyson Fury is now starting to feet.