Alex ‘The Lionheart’ Leapai has wasted no time turning up the heat on Wladimir Klitschko, saying the Ukrainian world heavyweight champion has a ‘glass jaw’ and his decade-long domination of the division was about to come to a thudding halt.
The Queenslander’s April 26 date with Klitschko in Germany was signed off on Tuesday, with both men putting pen to paper on either side of the globe.
For Klitschko (61-3 - 51 KOs), it may be just another night fending off someone who coveted his undisputed heavyweight crown. For Leapai, a father of six from Logan, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and quite possibly the biggest fight in the history of Australian boxing.
Leapai (30-4-3 - 24 KOs) has been installed as a rank underdog but the 34-year-old, who earned his shot with an upset of Denis Boytsov last November, believes he has the weapons to turn the lights out on one of the sport’s modern greats.
He said Klitschko had never tasted the power of anything resembling his overhand looping rights, or thumping uppercuts, and he would be bringing the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts back in the suitcase.
‘‘Klitschko has a glass jaw. For sure. We’ll find out on the night. He can get fired up but on the night we’re going to bring it home. I don’t care what he’s training for, he’s going to feel it,’’ Leapai said.
‘‘This guy has never faced anybody with the power that I’ve got. It ain’t going the distance. And I promise you guys that one of us is going to get knocked out – and it ain’t going to be me.’’
Leapai has spent time in jail for assault but has turned his life around dramatically, embracing the church and the fight game. It has led him all the way to the top, culminating in a title shot that will earn him a minimum of $1.5 million.
It’s a life-changer for a battler from Logan, south of Brisbane, but he insists it has never been about the money.
‘‘I’ve watched his last 10 fights. A lot of the guys who have fought him just don’t have a dig. For me, it’s not about the money. It’s about putting Australia on the map. One hundred years, 200 years down the track, no money can pay for people mentioning my name,’’ Leapai said.
‘‘This is to let the world know we have Australian heavyweights and they can fight.’’
Leapai’s trainer Noel Thornberry said his man had far more than a puncher’s chance of winning the title in Oberhausen.
‘‘It’s a huge opportunity. He’s fighting for the same championship Muhammad Ali held, Mike Tyson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Joe Frazier. It doesn’t get any bigger than this,’’ Thornberry said.
‘‘I couldn’t be more confident and happy. We’re not confident to the point of arrogance but we believe on April 26, Australia is going to have the world heavyweight champion.’’
Leapai and his team will travel to Germany a week before the fight, which will screen in Australia in the early hours of Sunday, April 27.
The story Wladimir Klitschko has 'glass jaw', says Alex Leapai first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.