Vitali Klitschko says he's 'in top shape', Peter says he's 'ready to go'

Updated: October 11, 2008, 3:02 AM ET
Associated Press

BERLIN -- After four years away from the ring, Vitali Klitschko wants his title back.

The 37-year-old Ukrainian will fight Samuel Peter on Saturday for the WBC heavyweight title at Berlin's 02 World Arena.

Klitschko, who has been sidelined because of a knee injury, weighed in at 246 pounds.

"The injuries are in the past," Klitschko said Friday. "I'm not worried about whether you'll see the old or new Vitali Klitschko.

"I'm in top shape. I'm ready to perform, without a doubt."

Peter stands just over 6 feet tall, a half-foot shorter that Klitschko. He weighed in at 253 pounds.

"I'm ready to go" said the 27-year-old Nigerian-born Peter, who spent five weeks training in Germany.

Both are hard punchers. But Peter is not known for his stamina and Klitschko is injury-prone. Each could be looking to land an early knockout.

"No one can say how this fight will turn out," Klitschko said. "That's heavyweights -- that's boxing."

Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs) won the WBC title in 2004. He hasn't fought since defending the crown with an eighth-round win over Danny Williams in Las Vegas later that year. In 2005, he withdrew from an WBC title fight because of a torn right knee ligament. The injury led him to announce his retirement, and the WBC made him "champion emeritus."

Peter (30-1, 23 KOs) won the WBC interim title last September by beating Jameel McCline on points.

"I didn't lose my title in a fight. I gave it up three years ago," Klitschko said. "But now I want my title back. This is going to be a real world heavyweight title fight between two world champions."

Klitschko, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Kiev in his time away from the ring, says his return was inspired by the desire to hold a title simultaneously with his brother. Wladimir Klitschko holds the IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight belts.

"We have always had a dream to be world champions together and have all the titles held by the Klitschkos," he said.

Peter's one loss came against Wladimir Klitschko. He hopes to follow a victory over Vitali on Saturday with a rematch against Wladimir.

"They both fight like robots," Peter said. "I am not a robot. I'm a skilled fighter and puncher, and I'll prove myself again."

Peter's trainer, Stacy McKinley, said being a heavyweight champion has elevated Peter's craft.

"Now he's three, four classes better," McKinley said. "As world champion, you automatically move to another level."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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