Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is usually mild-mannered outside the ring, a good guy with little interest in talking badly about his opponents or doing anything outrageous.
He has saved his best for the ring, where he has been the dominant force of the division for the nine-plus years of his second title reign and a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Klitschko’s opponents, however, often try to get him riled up by trash talking. It has never worked, but because they usually can do precious little against him inside the ring, they might as well take their verbal shots outside of it.
On Monday, Klitschko and mandatory challenger Tyson Fury avoided a purse bid and finalized a deal for their big fight, which will take place Oct. 24 (HBO) at the ESPRIT Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany, where a crowd of around 54,000 is expected.
As much as Klitschko doesn’t get caught up in the verbal battles that often go on during promotions, Fury (24-0, 18 KOs) is the exact opposite. He says and does wild and crazy things, which obviously draw attention to him and his fights.
"This fight with Fury is pretty much the same situation as it was with David Haye. Fury has a big mouth and is more famous for that than his fighting."
Klitschko, who will be making his 19th title defense, said he expects Fury, 26, to be at his verbose best during a promotion he said would be “fun.” For a change of pace, he also took a swipe at Fury when talking to ESPN.com after the bout was finalized.
“I have experience fighting a British guy with a big mouth. Remember David Haye,” Klitschko said, referring to the titleholder, who talked and talked and talked about all the nasty things he would do to Klitschko in the build-up to their 2011 title unification fight. Then he got knocked down and wiped out in a lopsided decision loss he famously blamed on a sore little toe.
Klitschko, 39, added: “This fight with Fury is pretty much the same situation as it was with David Haye. Fury has a big mouth and is more famous for that than his fighting.”
That’s about as negative as Klitschko gets.
The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Klitschko said the fact that the 6-9, 270-pound Fury is a rare opponent who is bigger won’t be an issue.
“I did fight a tall guy, [6-7½] Mariusz Wach [in 2012]. I have that experience with that as well,” Klitschko said. “And I have fought undefeated fighters, but not a guy that size who changes style between right-handed and southpaw like Fury does. He switches sides very comfortably.”
Klitschko (64-3, 54 KOs) said that between Fury’s size and ability to fight in both stances, the bout would be a challenge for him -- something he has not had in many years. All 18 of his defenses have been lopsided victories.
“I believe the hype for this fight will be similar or even more than the David Haye fight, but David Haye was a [natural] cruiserweight,” Klitschko said. “This guy [Fury] is a massive guy, tall, a true heavyweight, big mouth and undefeated. It is a real threat, so to say, for the champion, which is me in this case. Many people look forward to see how the champ is going to handle it.
“Fury’s young. He’s a little bit off in his head, but he is going to come to fight. David Haye pushed me with all his talk and I had fun with it. It was very tense, but it was fun. I think with Tyson Fury, who knows what he will do. I look forward to it. The press conferences will not be boring. But I’ve heard it before and seen it before.”