Lewis opponent inspired by hero

VITALI KLITSCHKO will draw inspiration from his heavyweight hero when he steps into the ring with Lennox Lewis in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

The giant Ukrainian who is based in Germany revealed how a visit to Max Schmeling last year would help him to take home Lewis' WBC and IBO titles.

Klitschko is expected to crash to defeat in much the same way as pundits predicted Schmeling's demise against the legendary Joe Louis in 1936.

Schmeling knocked Louis down for the third and final time in the 12th round to secure a famous victory.

The German legend sent Klitschko a letter of encouragement three years ago after Klitschko's only loss of his career to American Chris Byrd.

He said: "Max is 98 years old. He fought Joe Louis and he is my idol.

"When you meet this guy you can just feel the history. He said to me that you have to be focused and concentrate.

"He told me this is an interesting time in my life because I am active. He said he remembered when he was a sportsman and it was a great time."

Klitschko rubbished Lewis' insistence that he was in for an easy night after accepting the Ukrainian's challenge at just two weeks' notice because of an injury to his original opponent Kirk Johnson.

At 6ft 8in Klitschko will be the biggest man Lewis has ever faced in the ring but the Briton dealt comprehensively with 6ft 5in Michael Grant and the bulky Andrew Golota.

But 31-year-old Klitschko said: "I heard Lewis say he is going to destroy me and knock me out in the first five rounds.

"People say I am not strong enough or in the champion's league.

"I don't care what people say. We are all human beings.

"Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses we aren't talking about a god here.

"I don't want to get crazy or nervous about it. But I will do everything to win this fight."

Meanwhile, Joe Calzaghe's promoter Frank Warren has hit back at claims from Sven Ottke's manager that a fight between Calzaghe and the double world champion is a "dead topic".

Warren insists that it is Ottke's promoter Wilfried Sauerland who is now stopping a fight between the two from taking place.

Calzaghe next steps into the ring to make the 13th defence of his WBO title on June 28 with dangerous American Byron Mitchell, who lost his WBA portion of the super-middleweight title to Ottke in March.

Ottke, who defeated Briton David Starie by a unanimous points decision in Magdeburg, Germany, on Saturday night, is undefeated in 31 fights and is considered in some boxing circles as better than Calzaghe in the 168lb division. Starie has now lost to both Ottke and Calzaghe on points.

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