Heavyweight champ Klitschko on schedule for November return

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) Wladimir Klitschko is on schedule in his recovery from an injured left calf, and the heavyweight champion says he will be ready to defend his title belts against Tyson Fury next month.

Klitschko will begin training in less than two weeks at his usual camp in the Austrian Alps, the champ said Wednesday while taking a brief break from rehabilitation in California.

The fight was delayed five weeks after Klitschko was injured in training last month. The bout was rescheduled for Nov. 28 at Esprit Arena in Duesseldorf, Germany, where a capacity crowd of 55,000 is still expected despite the date change.

Klitschko (64-3, 53 KOs) had never hurt his calf before, but he knew rest and recovery would be preferable to fighting while injured, as Manny Pacquiao did against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May.

”I’ve had a lot of injuries in 25 years, and some of them, you can compete and you’re fine,” Klitschko said. ”With others, you can’t. It depends. Is it really worth it to you to try it? You don’t want to be handicapped when you get the fight and then hear something like unfortunately we heard from Pacquiao, saying, `Well, I walked into the fight and had a shoulder injury,’ which is not a good statement to say after the fight.”

Even with the five-week delay, almost no fans returned their tickets in Germany, where Klitschko is wildly popular.

The 39-year-old Klitschko hopes for even bigger fights in 2016, including a title unification bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, hopefully on pay-per-view in Las Vegas or New York. Both fighters have publicly been eager to meet each other, but Klitschko has no idea whether they can resolve the politics of sanctioning bodies and Wilder’s management team at Haymon Boxing.

”I look forward to getting it done,” Klitschko said. ”Do I have to? No. Do I feel pressure? No, I don’t.”

Klitschko has dreamed about unifying the belts since the retirement of his brother, Vitali, the longtime WBC champion. He hopes to entice Wilder, his former sparring partner, into the ring with the weight of history.

”Now I’m going to be a little bit cocky: It doesn’t matter how long Wilder or somebody else, (Alexander) Povetkin, I don’t know, who else could possibly hold this title,” Klitschko said. ”They’re not going to be called the heavyweight champion. They need to go through me. I’ve been around for a long time, and you’ve got to respect that. I will work on it, and I hope it’s going to happen, but if it’s not going to happen, am I going to be upset? Well, yeah, but it’s all right.”

Yet Klitschko and his brother have never been just about boxing. When asked about his future goals, Klitschko speaks excitedly about a seminar he will teach at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland early next year, giving his insights on management, motivation and mental strength from his quarter-century in boxing.

”The knowledge that I’m getting out of the sport, I want to give it to other people,” Klitschko said. ”If I had known some of these things when I started, it would have been much better.”

Klitschko also said he hasn’t given up on his dream of fighting in the Rio Olympics, returning to the Games 20 years after his gold medal performance in Atlanta. AIBA, the governing body of amateur boxing, has changed its rules to allow professionals to participate, but the organization wants fighters to sign with its professional promotion division.

Klitschko is still hoping AIBA will make an exception for him and other big-name professionals, and he would structure his 2016 schedule to be free for the Rio tournament in August. Klitschko auctioned off his gold medal from the 1996 Olympics for $1 million for charity.

”I’m already thinking, `What would I do with that new gold medal?”’ he said with a laugh.