Klitschko Faces Unbeaten Opponent Brock

NEW YORK - Calvin Brock will bring an unblemished professional record and very little acclaim into the ring Saturday night in his first heavyweight title bout.

Calvin Brock (L) and Wladimir Klitschko (R)

Brock, a 2000 U.S. Olympian, has won 29 straight fights, 22 by knockout. The list of victims isn't particularly impressive, though.

In fact, IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko has fought more established opponents in his last two bouts than Brock has in his career.

Still, with the other heavyweight titleholders uninterested in facing Klitschko, Brock is getting his opportunity. At Madison Square Garden, no less.

"This is something I've been aiming for my whole life, ever since I got into the ring," the 31-year-old Brock said. "And to do it at the Garden ...

"A lot of people asked me if I would think this ever was coming when I began to box at the age of 8 and when I went through the amateurs and the professionals. I always thought it would."

Now what will he do with it? Brock never has been in with anyone as talented as Klitschko (46-3, 41 knockouts), and will be outweighed 241 pounds to 224 1/2.

The native of Kazakhstan - he represents Ukraine - whose brother Vitali once held the WBC crown, thoroughly dominated Chris Byrd before stopping him in the seventh round of his most recent fight.

"Klitschko is very good, he is the best and most respected of the heavyweight champions," Brock said. "That won't matter when we get in the ring. I have to hit him, man, that's the main thing. I know he don't want to get hit."

Brock, whose versatility is his biggest asset, might hit Klitschko, but can he hurt the champion? Byrd, a far-more accomplished fighter than Brock, didn't come close.

While Klitschko and noted trainer Emanuel Steward paid tribute to Brock, they also pretty much dismissed losing to him. Steward even predicted that Klitschko is about to join the level of great champions.

"At this point in time, I don't think there is any heavyweight in the class of Wladimir," Steward said. "Eventually, they'll all have to come to him, because he's the golden boy of the heavyweight class.

"I think you'll see the emergence of one of the great heavyweight fighters Saturday night."

Perhaps. But Klitschko's name rarely has been mentioned in association with Marciano, Louis, Ali or even Lennox Lewis. Except when Klitschko, who owns one thing the other famed champions didn't - a doctorate, from the University of Kiev in Ukraine - does the mentioning.

"It's been a long, long way and many years and many workouts to have a chance to fight at Madison Square Garden," said Klitschko, who also fought in the Garden in 2000, stopping David Bostice in the second round. "I will stay in the ring and have a chance to be attached to history. Think of all these great fighters who fought here: Rocky Marciano ... Muhammad Ali ... Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis.

"Don't miss any rounds, any minute. It's going to be an exciting event."

The fight will be telecast by HBO, which also will show highlights of Ali's daughter, Laila, in her defense of the WBC super middleweight belt against Shelley Burton. Laila Ali is 22-0 with 19 knockouts, and her father is expected to attend.

Local favorite Kevin Kelley fights Mexico's Manuel Medina in an IBF lightweight elimination bout. The winner among veterans who have a combined 149 ring appearances could get a title shot next year.

Klitschko is donating a portion of his purse - at least $250,000 - to UNESCO to support education in the third world.

Source: AP