STUTTGART (AP) -- Vitali Klitschko has promised to teach Juan Carlos Gomez a lesson when the heavyweights fight Saturday for Klitschko’s WBC title.
Klitschko was hoping to fight Britain’s David Haye, but instead has to defend his title against another former cruiserweight champion who is the mandatory challenger.
“I am ready. I am confident,” Klitschko said Monday at a joint news conference with Gomez. “I had no injuries in training camp, thank God, and I am 100 percent ready. I heard a lot of statement from Gomez’s camp recently and all I can say is that they can dream on, they are all dreams.
“He says he has had the hardest training camp of his career and I can promise him the hardest fight of his life. I think he is a very good boxer, with technical skill, and he showed it all in the cruiserweight. But heavyweight is something else. I will show him. It will be a lesson, but it won’t last long.”
Gomez, a 35-year-old Cuban defector who lives in Germany, did not seem impressed.
“I will beat his face in. I am the better boxer,” Gomez said. “I will beat him, that’s it.”
During the pre-fight hype, Gomez has also vowed to “destroy” Klitschko.
Gomez used to spar with Vitali and his younger brother Wladimir, the IBF and WBO champion, whenever they had to prepare for a bout against a left-handed fighter and they all had the same promoter in Germany before switching camps.
The 37-year-old Vitali (36-2, 35 KOs) returned to the ring in October after a break of nearly four years and stopped Samuel Peter when the Nigerian decided not to come back after absorbing a steady flow of punches for eight rounds.
Gomez (44-1, 35 KOs), won an unanimous decision over Vladimir Virchis in September to earn the right to challenge Klitschko.
The Cuban held the WBC cruiserweight title for four years before vacating it in 2002 to move up to heavyweight.
In October 2005, Gomez tested positive for cocaine after winning a decision over Oliver McCall and the fight was subsequently ruled a no contest. He was suspended for a year and beat McCall again after returning to the ring.
Vitali and his brother are usually considered the top big men in the heavyweight division, but Vitali’s career has been plagued by frequent injuries.
Klitschko is a three-time champion who won the WBC title in 2004 with an eight-round victory over Corrie Sanders. The fight against Peter was Klitschko’s first since he defended the crown with an eight-round win over Danny Williams in Las Vegas in 2004.
Klitschko’s performances as a powerful puncher have often been overshadowed by injury. In 2005, he withdrew from a WBC title fight with Hasim Rahman because of a torn ligament in his right knee. The injury led him to announce his retirement, and the WBC made him “champion emeritus.” In the fall of 2007, he announced a comeback fight against Jameel McCline, only to back out after hurting his back and having emergency surgery.