Povetkin ready to beat his idol Chris Byrd; Larsen, Sylvester confident of success

byrd povetkinAlexander Povetkin vowed he was "full of respect" for Chris Byrd as the two heavyweights tuned up for their IBF eliminator in Erfurt on Saturday night. The 2004 Olympic gold medal winner today revealed how Byrd was among his idols but warned he wonīt let it show in the ring. "I have the utmost of respect for Chris Byrd," Povetkin said at the official press conference. "He used to be one of my idols when I was younger. It was always my goal to get a picture with him - and now I have to fight against him. I am convinced I will win.."

The 28-year-old, unbeaten in 13 fights (10 KOs), and his American opponent are just two wins away from earning the right to challenge IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko. But Povetkin claimed he hasnīt wasted a single thought about the potential showdown. "All my focus is on the fight against Byrd. I want to beat him first. It might well be the toughest fight of my career. I can think about Klitschko later.."

Ex-champion Byrd believes his experience from 44 fights (40 wins, 21 KOs) will make the difference. "I like Povetkin as a person, but itīs something different in the ring," he stated. "We both have the same goal and that is to win. I am much more experienced than he is. I have gone the full distance so many times. I am in great shape and certainly fancy my chances."

Coach Joe Byrd shared his sonīs optimism but admitted the 37-year-old will be in for a difficult challenge. "I know from my time with the amateurs how difficult it is to beat fighters from the former Soviet Union," he said. "But weīre ready. We have prepared ourselves as if it was a world title fight." Povetkinīs coach Valeri Belov also acknowledged the accomplishments of Byrd. "We have a lot of respect for him," he revealed. "Yet Alexander is determined to win. He will do everything possible to leave the ring as the winner."

In the second main fight, European middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester (26-2, 13 KOs) will put his belt on the line against Italyīs Simone Rotolo (27-2, 13 KOs). The "Hurricane" regained the title back in June when he stopped Amin Asikainen in the penultimate round of a spectacular meeting. He knows that Rotolo will be no push-over. "Itīs going to be very difficult," the 27-year-old said. "I have worked out well and I am ready to go the full distance." Rotolo, who according to Sylvester coach Hartmut Schroeder is "very mobile", claimed there were three reasons why he will succeed. Not that he would lift the curtain on any of them before Saturday, though. "I will reveal them at the post-fight press conference after Iīve won," the Italian stated.

Also in action will be former European super-middleweight champion Mads Larsen (48-2, 37 KOs), who returns to the place where he suffered the most painful - and very controversial - loss of his career. "The fight against Sven Ottke (in September 2003) was one of the closest I have ever seen," Ulli Wegner said. Unlike four years ago, the veteran coach is now doing his magic in Larsenīs corner. "Now I have the coach whom Ottke had," Larsen smiled. "Thatīs why I am very optimistic for the future. Itīs good to be back in Erfurt. Iīm hoping to fight for the world title again next year." In his fourth fight after his comeback, Larsen will battle it out with unbeaten Emiliano Cayetano (16-0, 10 KOs). "Mads has been doing very well in practice," Wegner lauded. "I am sure he will soon get his shot at the world title."

Article posted on 24.10.2007

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