I know he’s retired, but I’m a big fan of Shaquille O’Neal, his game and his personality. I have a pair of his shoes in my office. You see the size of his shoe and think, ‘This is not real, this couldn’t belong to a human being.’ But he is human!
You can train your mental strength just like you train your body. If your body looks fit or ripped, it looks strong, and you can flex your muscles. So, physically, you have a certain strength. Mentally, it’s the same thing. You can train your psychological strength.
I train six days a week for four to five hours a day. I like to keep the same schedule when I’m in camp for every fight.
I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and sports science. At 14, I went through this really tough Soviet training system. A lot of my roommates got psychologically broken or physically injured. Either you came through, or you were out. I made my Ph.D. work in the field of young athletes aged 14-19 because at this age any human is changing.
It’s not my place to compare myself to greats like Tyson, Frazier or men like that. But I would look at a fighter like Evander Holyfield. He’s a great heavyweight who worked his way up through the weight classes to become champion and had to beat bigger men along the way.
I would say that Roger Federer is pretty amazing. And Manny Pacquiao – he’s such a tiny, little lightweight guy, but the way he fights makes people so excited.
Only younger brothers will understand me. We’re following in the footsteps of older brothers. You are looking up to your brother. You want to do the same things. You want to do as good as he and do it even better.
In Soviet times, the border was closed, so we couldn’t get out of the country, and I had been reading Robinson Crusoe. I wanted to see the ocean, I wanted to see boats, I wanted to see black people, because we didn’t have that in the Soviet Union. I was all excited by that stuff.
It is up to the people and boxing fans to give me the respect I deserve once I have finished my career. I personally do not think about my legacy.
If I am 100% prepared for the fight, my opponent has no chance to win the fight. I am saying what I mean: He has a 0% chance to win the fight. There is going to be no luck involved; there is going to be nothing else to stop me from winning the fight.