During a well-attended Media Workout Wednesday at the Pound4Pound Gym, Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko (37-2, 36 KOs) and K2 Promotions Managing Director, Tom Loeffler, announced that 100 tickets for Klitschko’s eagerly anticipated WBC heavyweight title defense against unbeaten, No. 1-ranked Cristobal Arreola (27-0, 24 KOs), of East Los Angeles, Saturday, Sept. 26, at STAPLES Center would be donated to Southern California firefighters.
“Vitali has a house on the hillside in Los Angeles where he can see all the fires, and he really appreciates the hard work and dedication from all the firefighters,” Loeffler said. “Donating 100 tickets to the Firefighters Association is Vitali’s way of thanking them for all their hard work and efforts while putting their lives on the line to keep the people of Los Angeles safe.”
Photos: Big Joe Miranda
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Under the watchful eye of respected, world-renown trainer Fritz Sdunek, who has been with the boxer since his pro debut in 1996, Klitschko shadow-boxed, skipped rope, hit the mitts, clubbed the heavy bag and ripped the speed bag during a spirited 40-minute workout.
On Sept. 26, Klitschko will make history by becoming the first fighter to headline three times at STAPLES Center. If triumphant, Arreola will make history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to capture a world heavyweight belt.
What Klitschko, Loeffler, and Sdunek had to say Wednesday:
“I hope everyone at STAPLES Center will enjoy the fight. I’m preparing for a real battle against Arreola. He is a very strong fighter and the No. 1 contender for the world title. He wants to take my title away, but I won’t let him do that. I feel comfortable in the gym. I’ve been training hard. I’m in good shape now, but not in my best shape. I’ll be in my best shape for the fight.
“David Haye is not a serious fighter. I doubt he had an injury when he gave up the fight against (Vitali’s younger brother and IBF/WBO heavyweight champion) Wladimir. We gave Haye the same contract as he got with Wladimir. Against me, Haye had little chance to take the title. That’s why he didn’t want to fight. He’s un-serious. I don’t think about him anymore. Right now, I focus on Arreola.
“Arreola is undefeated and rated No. 1. He’s a very strong and tough fighter. It will not be an easy fight. I want to show everyone that I will be the strongest one on Sept. 26. I know Arreola will train very well for this fight. I take him very seriously. I will be in top shape and I will give my best. You will see in my performance on Sept. 26. Arreola has a big punch and a big heart as do all Mexican fighters. Nothing about this fight will be simple, but I will win.
“Every day, I’m asked ‘where do I live?’ I love being in Los Angeles where I have my house. I also have many friends and a place in Germany and at the same time I’m a Ukrainian citizen. But I’m a sportsman and travel around the world. If you want to know where I stay the most, it is in a plane. For boxing fans, it’s not a question of which country you’re from, or which flag you wave. It’s about performance in the ring. That’s what the fans appreciate. Which country you’re from, which country you’re a citizen in, is not an important question.
“I doubt the fight will be won by decision. The fight will be much shorter than 12 rounds. Arreola is a good fighter. I don’t want to underestimate him. I don’t want to make mistakes. I will show him my skills. I am much stronger than Arreola. Arreola has a big heart and a big punch. But I have a big punch, too. I know Mexicans are huge boxing fans and they are very knowledgeable. But it’s not the color of your skin or your nationality that they root for. I have a lot of Mexican fans who support me every fight and I’m very thankful for that.
“I understand some people will be against me and it will mean very much to have a Mexican world champion. But I’ve got to tell them, ‘sorry.’ Nothing against Mexicans, nothing against any nationalities, but, we, the fighters, prove our boxing skills in the ring.
“I remember the Lennox Lewis fight where the fans cheered with a lot of energy and emotion for sports skills. In the end, they’re not rooting for the nationality or for the religion, but for the sport. That’s why I love boxing and looking forward to my fight against Arreola Sept. 26 in Los Angeles.”
“Arreola has been challenging Vitali for a long time and says he’s always wanted to fight Vitali. Vitali has never ducked Arreola. He regained the title against Sam Peter. He made his first defense, which was a mandatory defense against Juan Carlos Gomez. Now Arreola is the No. 1 contender so he is the natural opponent for Vitali.
It definitely made sense to bring Vitali and this fight back to Los Angeles. Vitali’s making history by being in the third heavyweight championship fight at STAPLES. He’s the only one to do that. Arreola will also make history if he wins. It’s good to come here to Los Angeles and STAPLES Center. It was something Vitali wanted to do. This fight was a natural for STAPLES; Arreola living in Riverside, Vitali having a house in Los Angeles. His children were born here in Los Angeles. It’s the only place this fight could have happened.
“This is a great matchup. Vitali has the highest knockout ratio of any active champion and Arreola is unbeaten with 24 knockouts in 27 fights. It’s really a fight fans’ dream. And where else can you get a ticket for a heavyweight championship fight for $25? We did that on purpose to allow the true fight fan to come out and see this caliber of fight. We’re expecting a full house.”
FRITZ SDUNEK (who has trained 12 world champions and two Olympic Games gold medalists)
“Vitali has been working really hard for this fight and is getting better and stronger every day. We’re still a few weeks out, but he will be 100 percent by fight night.”
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Klitschko has been involved in the only two heavyweight world title fights to emanate from STAPLES Center. Both matches were unforgettable. The first – against then-champion Lennox Lewis June 21, 2003 – was a bloody, exhilarating slugfest that resulted in a hotly disputed win for Lewis. Klitschko finally captured the WBC belt at STAPLES Center on April 24, 2004, when he annihilated Corrie Sanders en route to an eighth-round TKO.
Tickets, starting at $25, can be purchased at STAPLES Center, all TicketMaster outlets, by phone (800) 745-3000 and online at www.ticketmaster.com.
The 12-round heavyweight championship fight will be promoted by K2 Promotions in association with Goossen Tutor Promotions. It will air live on HBO at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.