- By Fabian Weber, Boxing.de - On May 28 European heavyweight champion Luan Krasniqi will face US giant Lance Whitaker in a WBO world title eliminator. The winner of this explosive heavyweight clash at Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle of Stuttgart will get a shot at WBO champion Lamon Brewster.
Boxing.de: Luan, your big fight against Lance Whitaker is only few days away. Do you feel nervous or rather anticipated?
Luan Krasniqi: Quite surprisingly I don’t feel nervous. This is perhaps just because I know exactly how important this fight is to me. On the one hand I’m somebody who improves with challenges. On the other hand I know exactly what is in store for me. I met Whitaker on the press conferece and of course I start to get more excited. But I’m still relatively calm and relaxed..
How did you prepare for this impotant fight?
I had an excellent training period. Really, my preparation ran perfectly. I had three very good sparring partners with who I had strong battles in the gym: David Bostice [former opponent of Wladimir Klitschko], Julius Long [2,10 m] and a tall Polish boxer who is also quite skillful. Basically I’m in training for four months. But in February I suffered a cold and we postponed the fight from April to May. Afterwards I trained twelve weeks continuously with my coach Torsten Schmitz. We worked out a few weeks in Berlin but most of the time I trained in my hometown Rottweil. I know that I can go twelve rounds. This makes me happy. Yesterday I heard that team Whitaker wants to destroy and kill me. The usual prefight gossip talk. There is one thing that I know exactly: It will be very hard for Whitaker to keep up with my pace for twelve rounds. I don’t think an American heavyweight can keep up with my pace for twelve rounds.
Whitaker is 2,03m tall and weighs 120 kg which gives him a decisive size advantage over you. Against Timo Hoffmann, a man almost as heavy and as tall as Whitaker, you experienced some trouble last year. How do you want to handle Whitaker?
I imagine that Whitaker doesn’t have the same ring authority that Hoffmann displayed. But on the other side Whitaker is more dangerous. He punches harder and he is a better boxer. That’s why he will suit me. Skilful boxers suit me because on them I can show my own strengths to advantage, first of all my great speed. Against Hoffman I didn’t feel free, I felt tensed up. Something was missing. I couldn’t launch my game plan well. I think there were several reasons for this. I missed the first three rounds and I made him stronger than he was. By doing a bit of nonsense in the ring, something I usualy never do, I probably also negatively influenced the judges. But nevertheless, in my mind I won this fight, even though they scored it a draw. However, the fight against Whitaker will be completely different. Needless to say that Hoffmann and Whitaker have completely different strengths. Whitaker is a very different calibre.
Whitaker scored 24 knockouts, 19 of them inside of three rounds or less. Do you expect a quick start from him?
Yes, I believe he will start fast. This sounds likely after listeing to their statements, like they want to destroy me and so on. In case he makes a wild start I will go out of his way and fight back, depending on the situation.
You have a strong stamina. But Whitaker appears to have endurance as well as he went twelve rounds three times and ten rounds twice. Do you think your fight will last long?
Yes, I believe our fight will go over many rounds. But in the heavyweight division there is also the chance that one punch can end things quickly. If he makes a mistake I will take advantage of it. I don’t intend to expand the fight with no need. I will try to stop him. But I’m prepared for twelve rounds. This is a long distance and it’s a hard effort to last it.
Whitaker hired motivator Steve „Crocodile“ Fitch who shows up on the press conferences in military dress and calls out offenses. Among other statements he predicted that Whitaker would kill you. Do you think he carried things too far?
I would call it differently. In my mind this is just completely ridiculous. I listened to his shoutings and I must admid that Fitch is quite good informed about me - in contrast to Whitaker who allegedly has never seen me fight. Fitch knows about the early stage of my professional career and about my sparring with Lennox Lewis. He knows about my title fights and so on. If this man is a help for Whitaker I will not grudge it. Fitch by the way is a very friendly person. He just tries to motivate. If someone is in need of that he may feel free to use such services. I don’t take it all that serious. I spoke to Fitch and found out he also knew about my sparring in the US with Maurice Harris, who by the way is a pretty skilful fighter. But in the end I could always handle him. And in case Fitch has contact to Harris, then he will know the score.
In case you beat Whitaker you will be in line for a title fight against Lamon Brewster who just knocked out Andrew Golota in round one. What is your opinion about Brewster?
Basically I didn’t think Brewster is all that strong. I was very surprised that he knocked out Golota so quickly. But this is heavyweight. One punch can change everything. Brewster is also another example for somebody who improves with challenges.
What is Luan Krasniqi doing in the remaining days before the fight in Stuttgart?
I will try to rest and to calm down before the storm. I want to recharge my powers that I spent during that hard preparation period. I’ll only work out once every day now and I won’t do too much. I will try to climb through the ropes on Saturday in top shape.
Luan Krasniqi is from Kosovo[Kosova], but now lives in Germany.