WORLD heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko paid an astonishing compliment to Sheffield sparring partner Richard Towers: “You are my idol!”
Towers took on the reigning IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA kingpin during a four week training camp in Austria and Germany but returned to Sheffield, with his bruises healed and a tale to tell. Klitschko had dispensed with several of his sparring partners during his carefully-monitored programme but kept Towers on: a tribute to the Ingle man’s staying power.
After one scrap, the pair had a chat - and Towers was stunned at what Klitschko said.
“Wladimir said to me that if I ever need sparring for when it comes to fighting then he would be there for me. He talked about family and things like that. I spent two or three hours a day with him and he asked me: ‘Have you got kids?’ I said yeah, I’ve got a four year old and a baby on the way in February. He said to me, ‘You’re my idol’. I asked what do you mean by that? And he replied, ‘You are everything I aspire to be. You’ve got passion and hunger in your body, in your eyes, in everything you do and it’s all for a purpose. My purpose is to win, to be greater than the great. Yours is to feed your family.
“That is a far bigger goal than what I’ve got. You’re my idol.’ And I was like, flipping heck!”
Towers underwent the experience of a lifetime as he trained for his own December 11 bout with Aussie Lucas Browne in Hong Kong.
Towers, who is undefeated in 14 fights, said: “I feel I’ve stepped up a notch and am looking forward to putting my new knowledge to the test.
“I’d only sparred full contact with 10 or 12 people. When I told Wladimir he couldn’t believe I’d sparred with so few.
“Nobody lasts longer than two weeks sparring usually. They either get KO’d or just quit. In the first week it was going pear-shaped - I was getting caught with everything he threw and couldn’t outthink him. He was closing everything off I did and, mark my words, he doesn’t hold back.
“Every one of his shots, including the jabs, seemed to shake something that has not been shaken in my head before.
“One of the things I’m quite proud of is that I didn’t get knocked down and I didn’t get knocked out. A few people have been shocked I survived a month. And yeah, I’d say after one week I did more than survive because I gave him a little bit back.”