Alex Leapai has been given any amount of advice before his historic world title bout with Wladimir Klitschko. Here’s the latest: Unleash hell from the bell or go home empty-handed.
The countdown is on in earnest for the aspiring Logan heavyweight, who has just weeks to go before his April 26 bout with Ukrainian hero Klitschko (64-61-3), who has ruled the division with an iron fist for a decade.
Leapai has been a travelling contender, splitting his training between Brisbane, Sydney and New Zealand. He has based himself on the Gold Coast this week, under the eye of trainer Noel Thornberry and former world title-holder Joe Bugner, who claimed the WBF version of the belt at age 48.
Bugner was one of the hardiest heavyweights of the 1970s, fighting almost all of the great names, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Henry Cooper. He was a twice-Commonwealth and triple-European champion.
He was on hand on Wednesday morning to urge Leapai to fight a high-risk bout against the man known as ”Dr Steelhammer”, or board the plane home with his dreams punctured by Klitschko’s clinical jabs.
Bugner said Leapai (37-30-4-3) would have no time to work his way into the fight and said he needed to throw his boxing technique out the window and turn it into a free-for-all from the opening bell in Oberhausen.
“Alex Leapai is going to have to go over to Germany and smash this bloke – literally smash this bloke. He’s got no way of winning on points. This guy, the Germans have accepted him as one of their own now,” Bugner said.
“Take it by the horns and toss him to the ground. This is no joke – this is his one chance in a lifetime to fight for the world heavyweight title. To me, he can’t be playing with this guy because he wants to hurt Alex. Nobody wants to go in and fight for 12 rounds.”
Leapai has been sparring with tall opponents to find a way to negotiate the height difference against Klitschko, a difference of 15 centimetres. How he manages to find a way through the haze of jabs and crosses remains to be seen.
Whatever he does, Bugner says, can’t be half-hearted.
“This is the sad part of Leapai, because Alex is about a foot shorter than this Russian bloke. He’s going to have to get close enough to land the big ones,” Bugner said.
“He can’t play around Klitschko. You take the opening and you take your chances because if you don’t, you may never get a second chance.”
Leapai was the centre of attention as he continues to promote the bout, but remains calm and focused as he prepares for the biggest fight of his life for which he will earn an estimated $1.5 million at the least.
He was soaking up all of the advice but remains adamant he has his own chapter to write.
“There’s a chance to write some history of my own in Germany,” Leapai said. “And I will.”
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