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Klitschko out to prove his star is rising
Klitschko out to prove his star is rising
Austin's camp promises transformed fighter against Klitschko
Fri, Mar 9, 2007
By Associated Press
BERLIN -- Not many believe American challenger Ray Austin will take the IBF heavyweight title away from Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday.
But Austin's camp is promising to send a different fighter into the ring against the hard-hitting Ukrainian than the one that compiled a mediocre 24-3-4 record with no big wins.
Austin is a +450 underdog on BoDog.com against Klitschko at -850.
Stacy McKinley has trained Austin for the past two months, after drawing praise for improving Samuel Peter of Nigeria, who is in line for a title shot against WBC champion Oleg Maskaev.
''You're going to see a much improved fighter,'' said McKinley, who was the assistant trainer for Mike Tyson for a decade. ''I don't see any reason he can't win. Once you get past the punching power of Klitschko, there is nothing there.''
Three straight wins against top fighters have ranked Klitschko - 47-3 with 42 knockouts - at the top of the current heavyweights.
He beat Peter - before McKinley trained him - then stopped Chris Byrd and Calvin Brock. Now, the 30-year-old Ukrainian is looking beyond Saturday's mandatory defense to loftier goals.
Klitschko's hopes of a unification fight, however, have been thwarted by the competing interests of the four boxing organizations and their champions' promoters.
''I have been working on that since I won the title again, but I'm not one step further,'' said Klitschko, who was once the WBO champion. ''But fights can happen that everybody wants to see.''
Wladimir and older brother Vitali Klitschko - who promote themselves - see Saturday's bout as about more than just two boxers. Austin fights for Don King, whom the Klitschkos have generally refused to work with.
''This isn't just about two fighters, it's about two promoters,'' said Vitali Klitschko, the former WBC champion who is planning a comeback.
Like Austin, Wladimir Klitschko has also received a boost from his own corner.
Emanuel Steward, who trained Lennox Lewis, is credited for vastly improving Klitschko since two knockouts threatened to end his career. Klitschko was stopped in two rounds by Corrie Sanders in 2003 and in five by Lamon Brewster in 2004.
''Most trainers ignore the basics. Steward and I are the few that don't,'' McKinley said. ''It's like a house. You have to start with the structure, then build from there. That's what I did with Peter and that's what I'm doing with Austin.''
McKinley said Austin, for the first time in his career, has the benefit of a professional training camp, multiple sparring partners and conditioning coaches.
Before a July draw against Sultan Ibragimov, which earned him the Klitschko fight, Austin had just eight sparring rounds.
Now Austin has been fine-tuned by the pros to beat Klitschko, according to McKinley. They are close to the same height and weight at around 6-foot-6 and 246 pounds.
''Steward has been saving Klitschko from the corner in his last fights,'' McKinley said. ''The downside of Klitschko is he can't take a punch and he hasn't got the heart.''
Klitschko, avoiding any trash talking, said he hoped for a quick end to the fight. He is -525 to win by KO, TKO or disqualification.
But Steward was quick to defend his fighter.
''After one minute of the first round, everything will change for Ray Austin when he realizes who he is in the ring with,'' Steward said. ''Wladimir is on a different level.''
Re: Klitschko out to prove his star is rising
Klitschko makes quick work of Austin
Many pundits were wondering how veteran Ray Austin (24-4-4, 16KOs) was able to land a mandatory shot at IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (48-3, 43KOs), especially since he was coming off a draw. It was called a mismatch before the fight, and a mismatch it became when the two fighters came together Saturday at the SAP-Arena in Mannheim, Germany.
It only took two rounds and several left hooks to crash Austin to the canvas. Klitschko was not happy about meeting Austin because he thought it was be an easy fight that brought nothing to the table. After the fight was over, even Klitschko admitted that it was an easier fight than he expected.
"I didn't think it would be so easy. Austin was much slower than my sparring partners," Klitschko said.
Austin did not go for broke in the first round, he stayed away and tried to box. Before Klitschko could even break a sweat in the second round, a series of left hooks against the ropes sent Austin down. He was unable to beat the count of the referee and Klitschko picked up another knockout win.
The next logical step would be to unify the heavyweight titles. In terms of making the most lucrative payday and being able to draw the most interest from the fans would certainly come from a fight with undefeated Nikolai Valuev, the WBA champion.
The other two champions would draw far less interest from the general boxing public. WBO champion Shannon Briggs has been ordered to make a mandatory defense in the next few months.
Briggs was slated to originally face Klitschko last year, but a breakdown in negotiations made him sign for a WBO title shot with Sergei Liakhovich, resulting in a knockout win that seems to have restarted his career. Klitschko took on undefeated Calvin Brock, and disposed of him with a knockout win.
During the post-fight press conference that followed Klitschko's win over Brock, Briggs was in attendance and exchanged words with Klitschko and members of his camp.
If Briggs is able to hold onto his title through his mandatory defense, he would certainly be a major player for the Klitschko sweepstakes.
WBC champ Oleg Maskaev, another man who almost fought Klitschko in 2006, is currently in the middle of a tug-of-war between Samuel Peter and the comeback kid, Vitali Klitschko.
Peter won two consecutive WBC mandated eliminators against James Toney. After it appeared that he would be the man to fight Maskaev, an unforseen problem took place when the retired Vitali Klitschko announced his return to the sport.
Following his retirement in 2005, Klitschko was given special status by the president of the WBC and promised an immediate crack at the reigning champion if he ever changed his mind and un-retired.
In order to avoid a public smear campaign by ruling in the favor of either fighter, the WBC told all of the parties to attempt to settle the dispute by way of mediation.
After reps for Maskaev, Klitschko and Peter met in New York to attempt some sort of a compromise, nothing was immediately settled and the status of Maskaev's next opponent is up in the air.
One thing is for sure, with older brother Vitali winning a title, Wladimir will be unable to properly unify the heavyweight division.
There was always a forecasted plan of Wladimir Klitschko facing the winner of Maskaev-Peter, obviously that won't happen.
Even if Vitali is able to secure the shot at Maskaev, all of the discussed terms would grant Peter a fight with the winner. Wladimir would have to wait until 2008 to unify against the WBC champion, but only if his brother is not the one holding the crown.
Valuev is a seven-foot, 300-pound behemoth of a man. He would be the first opponent that would make the 6-foot-6 Wladimir the smaller man in the ring.
There are still various problems with even making a fight with Valuev. The biggest is the involvement of promoter Don King, who co-promotes the Russian giant.
King is universally known for requesting options when his champions are matched in key bouts. Klitschko, who manages and promotes himself through his own company, has vowed to never give options to any promoter.
There is always the option of facing Evander Holyfield, which would present a decent payday and plenty of headlines. In order to make sure a fight seem credible, Holyfield would have to beat a variety of top contenders to prevent the fight from appearing like a mismatch to the public.
Klitschko is recognized as the best heavyweight in the sport. Sooner or later, but hopefully sooner, he will need to seriously test himself in the similar fashion as he did against Samuel Peter in 2005.