Russian giant Nikolai Valuev and Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Chagaev squared up to each other at a press conference on Tuesday in Helsinki ahead of their May 30 bout for the WBA heavyweight title.
Both fighters hotly dispute the ownership of the belt after Valuev suffered his only defeat when losing to Chagaev in April 2007.
Since then confusion has reigned after Chagaev twice pulled out of rescheduled rematches with injury.
Valuev defeated John Ruiz last August to claim the by then vacant title with Chaguev classed as “champion in recess.”
But Chaguev, 25-0 with 17 KOs, turned up on Tuesday with the “in recess” line on his name tag pasted over and “The Real Champion” written on the back of his T-shirt.
“I have beaten Valuev once and I will beat him again,” said the 30-year-old, who since recovering from his Achilles tendon injury was awarded a technical decision win over US fighter Carl Davis Drumond in February on his come back.
He added: “I don’t understand what all that talk is about. I am the champion.”
Valuev, 50-1 with 34 KOs, was unimpressed.
“I am coming to Helsinki to show that I am the real champion,” the Russian said.
“I have made a lot of key changes since the defeat [to Chagaev] two years ago. I have appointed a new head coach, Alexander Zimin,” Valuev said.
“He has changed my training routine completely and has made me a much better fighter. I have improved a lot. I have no doubts that I will leave the ring victorious this time out,” he said.
Theirs will be the first heavyweight title fight in Finland which promoters estimate will pull in a worldwide audience of around 100 million fans.