Joshua vs Klitschko: WBC champion Deontay Wilder recalls his time sparring Wladimir Klitschko
By Tim Hobbs
Last Updated: 21/04/17 7:59am
Deontay Wilder will be watching from ringside as Wladimir Klitschko takes on Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium. Ahead of the fight, the American recalls one of the best boxing experiences he has had on his way to the very top...
When did your Klitschko spar come about?
It was for the Mariusz Wach fight a few years ago. I got the call and went over. I fought Kelvin Price a couple of weeks after it, but there was no way I was not going to go out there.
First impressions when you got there?
They've got a beautiful facility over there and the people were beautiful. They treated us really well as soon as we got there, as well. I learned a lot and enjoyed myself while I was there too.
Straight to the sparring? How much did you do?
I did over 50 something rounds. I was the head sparring partner there. We sparred so many rounds, so many times, I felt I should've been the only sparring partner there!
Is Wladimir one of those who takes it easier, keeping something in the locker?
Not at all. He goes 100 per cent when he's sparring. Actually, Wlad goes 110 per cent in the ring, there's no half way with him, it's full on. Period.
Was there a conveyor belt of partners, so you kept swapping?
I did most of the sparring, his number one guy. People would pat me on the back when it was just me and him sparring - probably because they didn't have to spar him - they just got paid and were just living for the experience. I didn't complain because I was getting all the experience and I would've gone to his camp for free.
Did you spend any time with Klitschko once sparring was over?
We sat down and had a chat. I even had my birthday over there and that day they made me a cake and everything. We relaxed, talked about other things and laughed about other things. That's how it was.
Did you try and pick up any tips, ask for any feedback?
It was a great experience. I held my own and really learnt a lot in that camp.
The thing is we're fighters so we fight all the time, sparred all the time and year round we are at work, so when the fight is over, the work is done, we like to relax, so we don't even talk about boxing.
When I sat down and talked to him it wasn't really about boxing, just other things. It was a great experience. I held my own and really learned a lot in that camp.
So what did you get out of it?
It really helped me along in my career, just building my confidence and being able to say 'I can compete with the best'.
He was the champion and he still held the belts and had been for a while so I felt if I could compete with him and hang with him, anyone else in the division is light work for me. I was getting that experience I need to build my confidence even higher than when I got there.
Did Klitschko have any kind words before you left?
No, he had other things on his mind, I guess. But he did say in his press conference with Wach - when he was speaking in German - I was the strongest, fastest and the best sparring partner he had in that camp. That meant a lot to me too.