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Klitschko faces taller, heavier Wach in title fight

Associated Press

11/9/2012 12:05:24 PM

HAMBURG, Germany -- Wladimir Klitschko has looked down on all the opponents he's faced since turning pro 16 years ago, but on Saturday the 1.98 metre (6-foot-6) Ukrainian will face someone taller for the first time.

Not only that, but Mariusz Wach of Poland is heavier too, weighing in at 113.8 kilos (251 pounds), compared to the 112 (247) Klitschko registered at Friday's weigh-in.

Klitschko will need to make up four centimetres (1 1/2 inches) when he defends his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts against the formidable two-time Polish champion, who also has a longer reach.

"The big challenge for me is Wach's height," Klitschko said when the bout was announced. "He is unbeaten, a big puncher and has an irrepressible will."

Perhaps only the 7-foot-2 Nikolai Valuev could have posed a greater physical challenge for the 36-year-old Klitschko, but the "Russian Giant" retired in 2009 after losing his WBA title to British fighter David Haye.

Klitschko defeated former cruiserweight Haye in his previous fight in Hamburg, in July 2011, and will be fighting for the fourth time in his adopted hometown.

The 32-year-old Wach, who has won all 27 of his bouts, 15 by knockout, since turning pro in 2005, is aiming to become Poland's first world heavyweight champion.

Klitschko, meanwhile, is 58-3 (51 KOs) going into his 22nd world championship fight -- the first since the death of his longtime coach and friend Emanuel Steward last month. As if he needed extra motivation.

"I will defend the titles that I won together with Emanuel Steward," the 36-year-old said at Monday's press conference. "He wasn't just a coach. Emanuel Steward was a genius, a genius in the ring."

It will be Klitschko's third defence this year after knockout wins over Jean-Marc Mormeck of France in March and American challenger Tony Thompson in July.

Actor and director Sylvester Stallone, famous from his role in the Rocky series of films, will attend the bout, part of the promotional campaign for the Rocky musical.

Klitschko and his older brother Vitali, together with Stallone, had a hand in the production of "Rocky: Fight from the Heart," which opens in Hamburg on Nov. 18.