WROCLAW, Poland – Vitali Klitschko will put away thoughts of retirement when he defends his WBC heavyweight title against Tomasz Adamek on Saturday night.
Home favorite Adamek will be cheered on by a partisan crowd of 42,000 at the sold-out municipal stadium in Wroclaw, Poland, and eager to seize his chance.
"I know it will not be easy, because it is never easy in the boxing ring, but I am well prepared," the 34-year-old Adamek said. "There's no point waiting. If I'm to be a world champion, I will be one now."
The Polish challenger, who fought his way up from light heavyweight and cruiserweight to build a 44-1 record, spent 10 weeks in the U.S. preparing for the fight and says he is ready to win.
However, the 40-year-old Klitschko, whose record of 42-2 includes 39 knockouts, says he is in "very good shape" and "cannot wait to show once again that I am the best."
It will be the first heavyweight championship fight held in Poland, in a stadium newly built for next summer's soccer European Championship, and televised in more than 120 countries.
Klitschko said it will be a demanding fight.
"Tomasz is quick, has good technique, moves perfectly in the ring and it's not easy to fight with a shorter competitor," he said. "I need to be faster than him and I need to be in better condition."
Adamek said he was ready for "everything he can come up with."
"I know his style and the quality of his boxing. He usually starts very carefully, but it may be different this time," Adamek told Polish sports daily Przeglad Sportowy on Friday. "Maybe he will start with an attack. Speed and good condition are my specialties, and he knows that."
The challenger added: "I'm not saying I will knock him out, I'm not thinking of that. I want to win, no matter the means. I know I will be the champion, you will see."
Klitschko enjoys a considerable height and reach advantage but remains respectful of a younger and lighter opponent he is expected to dominate.
"After my brother Wladimir and me, Adamek is the third best heavyweight in the world. He is definitely better than David Haye who is just a world champion in talking," Klitschko said.
Haye was beaten by unanimous decision by the younger Klitschko for the WBA title in July, giving the brothers a clean sweep of the major heavyweight titles, but the Briton's trash talking in the lead up to the bout in Hamburg clearly riled the older brother.
"After he only made an impression against Wladimir with his big mouth, he can prove whether he is a real man against Vitali," Klitschko's trainer Fritz Sdunek said Thursday.
"Another challenge would be (Nikolai) Valuev, the Russian giant ... It would be interesting to find out whether Vitali can send Valuev to the canvas."
It was Sdunek who revealed the older Klitschko would only fight two or three more bouts before retiring for the second time. He retired in 2005 before mounting a successful comeback three years later.
"He's not getting any younger and his political activity in Ukraine requires a lot of time and energy," Sdunek told Die Welt newspaper.
"If I notice that he no longer has the reflexes, that he's taking more punches than usual, I would say, 'Vitali, stop.' I had to promise him that."
But, Sdunek added, Klitschko has "never been so fit" ahead of Saturday's bout.
"He is mentally and physically so strong, nothing can happen ... Vitali's getting better."
Adamek and his wife Dorota met with Wroclaw Archbishop Henryk Gulbinowicz for a 20-minute talk after training on Wednesday. He was given a special ring by the Archbishop, marking 1,000 years of the church in Wroclaw.
"I want to win. I'm not going to test anything new. This is not a kind of a fight where you can do that," Adamek said.
"The champions' belt is destined for me."