For those of you that are unaware, Waldimir Klitschko’s foil for this weekend is named Alex Leapai. A stout challenger, he looks like a hybrid cross consisting of equal parts David Tua, Jimmy Thunder and Wolfgramm. To say that he is an underdog would be an understatement as the bookies in Vegas have installed Klitschko as a massive favorite - somewhere in the neighborhood of 16-1.
Leapai is ranked as the #1 contender by the World Boxing Organization and although he has been a pro since 2004 and sports a decent record of 30-4-3, 24KOs it boggles the mind to think that he is ranked higher than several other world class heavyweights. Born in Samoa and now living in Australia, Leapai’s championship hope rests on a looping overhand right that he has christened the “Samoan Bowler” - an extremely powerful shot that he can get his 240-pound body behind.
Despite being written off as a serious challenger to the long-reigning heavyweight champion, Leapai is of the opinion he’s in the right place at the right time to capitalize. “I just have a feeling that it’s just the right timing for me. I’m just going to go to Germany and put it all on the line and bring it home for Australia.”
Leapai will be paid $1.5 million for Saturday’s fight win or lose and no matter how long it lasts. He claims if he wins he won’t change much. “Nothing would change, I’d still be the same,” he said Monday. “You’re not going to see me driving around in a Lamborghini or anything like that. I’d still be driving around in the same old one I’ve always driven. If you see me out on the road, be sure to come up and say hello.”
Reports from Klitschko’s training camp which took place in Florida and more recently Austria, say that the champ may be a bit distracted at the moment. With his brother Vitali involved in the upheaval in their native Ukraine, Wladimir has admitted his mind is with his compatriots. One of his primary sparring partners, Sherman Williams told the Australian Associated Press last week that, "At the moment, I think he's ready to be beaten. He's ready to be knocked out. If Alex is prepared physically and he's mentally and spiritually together, the Aussies can have a new champion come next week."
While the chances of that happening are extremely unlikely, the fight could at least be entertaining to watch. ESPN is going to televise the bout on Saturday afternoon which harkens back to a time and place when heavyweight championship action could be seen on a weekend during the day.
“I didn’t come to Germany for a holiday and I didn’t come to lose,” says Leapai. “I’m prepared for whatever he’s got. Like I say, I didn’t come here for a trip, I’ve come here to bring it home, you know? Once he feels the punch that I’ve got, he’s going to know he’s in a fight.”