DR. IRON FIST: HE'LL OPERATE ON YOUR NOSE.
Dr. Iron Fist looks down, way down, at me and immediately I notice he's missing the blond flat top. A small thing that can be fixed.
Those hands, those fists, are resting on his hips. Now you try not to be too obvious here, but while Dubya is still looking, these weapons of mass destruction are sort of obvious.
Vitali ``Dr. Iron Fist'' Klitschko is 32-1 as a heavyweight boxer and has won 31 of his fights by knockout. That's 31 times in 32 victories he's left boxers on their backs or too dazed to remember their mama's name.
He's 6-foot-8 and Russian - check that - Ukrainian. Along with his boxing younger brother, Wladimir, he's written an exercise book that you just know is filled with all sorts of secret training tips that the old Iron Curtain never wanted revealed.
Now Drago, er, Iron Fist is married, though not to Brigitte Nielson but to Natasha. He's moved to L.A. and is next scheduled to try to KO somebody named Cedric Boswell on the Lennox Lewis-Kirk Johnson undercard at Staples Center on June 21.
So I very, very politely ask this Ukrainian fighting machine and former WBO champ what it feels like to knock someone absolutely senseless.
And ol' Iron Fist looks down to my 5-foot-11 and goes all out of character. Starts telling me about this fight against Herbie Hide in London back in '99.
``I had really bad feeling, because he go down in his corner where seats his whole family - his wife, his parents, his children,'' he said. ``I never wish the same situation like his. He want for his family to give a good fight. I saw the eyes of mother, father and wife. It was painful for me.
``It was a mix between two feelings. From one side I was happy, and from another side I was unhappy because I bring some pain, heart pain to his family.''
My jaw is dropping, and I'm thinking I have to be talking to the wrong guy. Dr. KO is actually Mr. Sensitive? Get him a pony tail. I don't remember Drago getting all misty as he pummeled Rocky.
``After the fight, I come up to the guy and tell him I'm sorry,'' Klitschko said. ``And you know what? He tells me, `The next time, I knock you out.' ''
Boxers don't tell the guy they just scrambled they're sorry. It's just not becoming, though it should be plain by now that Klitschko is not going to fit into any easy stereotypes.
He is actually a Renaissance man, and when was the last time that was said about a boxer? He speaks four languages - German, English, Russian and Ukrainian. He has doctorates in sports science and philosophy. I asked him if he'd ever taken an IQ test, but something didn't translate.
``Today I take the boxing license,'' he said. ``It is a very interesting test for me, for every boxer. They ask, `Which year is now? Which floor are you on? What is your name?' Tough test.''
Boswell is 21-0, but doesn't figure to be that much of a test either. Not that everyone is all that certain about the Klitschko brothers. They come with a certain mystique, still relative unknowns from the former Soviet bloc.
Klitschko has fought outside Europe only once, and 29 of his fights were in Germany. Though the WBC's No.1-ranked contender, the only truly major fighter he's gone up against is Chris Byrd, who left him with his only loss when Dr. Iron Fist - comfortably ahead on all the score cards - quit on his stool and did not come out for the 10th.
Klitschko, 31, said he injured his shoulder in the third round.
``I have really strong pain,'' he said. ``I tried again, again, again. The pain was bigger and bigger and bigger.
``After that I tell my trainer it's time to break the fight, because I can't see my opponent. Every movement is pain in the head and I can't see opponent.''
In the macho world of boxing, everyone instantly questioned his heart. He's 5-0 since having surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, but people are watching.
Iron Fist seems unaffected. He said he wants Lewis next. Wants Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield and John Ruiz. Wants them all, except for his brother, the reigning WBO heavyweight champion.
``We never want to fight against each other, because we don't want to break the heart of our mother,'' he said.
Isn't that sweet? His mother is a school teacher. His father a former Soviet Air Force colonel who wanted to name Vitali ``Spartacus.''
Now that has a tough, masculine ring. Maybe it's not too late to bleach his hair, get it cropped and teach him, boxing means never having to say you're sorry.
Vitali Klitschko has won 31 of his 32 career heavyweight bouts by knockout.
Phil McCarten/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 29, 2003|
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