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Locally trained heavyweight gets world title fight

Kevin Gorman
| Monday, Aug. 28, 2006

Tom Yankello got a taste of world-class boxing while training former lightweight champion Paul Spadafora. Now, Yankello has a fighter on the threshold of reaching the pinnacle of the boxing world.

That would solidify his reputation as one of its top trainers.

Calvin Brock (29-0, 22 knockouts) has agreed to fight champion Wladimir Klitschko (46-3, 41 KOs) for the International Boxing Federation heavyweight title Nov. 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

"This is what I got in the business for," Yankello said. "There's no higher place than fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world."

Brock, a 2000 Olympian, is a Charlotte, N.C., native who is announced in the ring as a fighter out of Pittsburgh. He trains at Yankello's World Class Gym in Ambridge and Buzz Garnic Jr.'s Round II Gym in California (Pa.). Brock is ranked No. 3 by the IBF and is considered a consensus top-10 contender in the heavyweight ranks.

This is the first title defense for Klitschko, a Ukrainian who won the vacant IBF belt April 22 in Germany when he scored a seventh-round technical knockout of Chris Byrd.

The Brock-Klitschko fight promises to be the biggest career payday for Yankello, 35, fired by Spadafora after he won the IBF lightweight belt. Yankello also trains heavyweight Brian Minto of Butler and lightweights Verquan Kimbrough of Aliquippa and Monty Meza-Clay of Rankin.

"I always felt I had the ability to take a guy to that level," Yankello said. "I think I did it with Paul, but I didn't get the acknowledgements. I trained the guy to get there. When Calvin wins on the 11th, it's got to solidify my reputation as one of the great trainers in boxing. I'm as hungry as he is."

Yankello's hunger is prompted in part by working the opposite corner of Emanuel Steward, the Hall of Fame trainer who handles Klitschko and took Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis to world championship status.

Klitschko had an agreement with Shannon Briggs, but ESPN.com reported that a contract was never signed because Klitschko advisor, Shelly Finkel, was awaiting the outcome of the World Boxing Council heavyweight title fight between Oleg Maskaev and Hasim Rahman on Aug. 12 in Las Vegas. Maskaev won in a 12th-round TKO.

All three of Klitschko's defeats are by knockout, coming at the hands of Ross Puritty in 1998, Corrie Sanders in March 2003 and Lamon Brewster in April '04. Yankello believes Brock has an advantage to pressure Klitschko with his boxing ability and can give him trouble with a jab.

"I'm going to go out on a (limb): We're going to win," Yankello said. "This is a huge opportunity for Calvin to be heavyweight champion of the world, and for me to try to solidify my place in the boxing world. I'm trying to be one of the best trainers in boxing, and noted as such.

"It doesn't get any bigger and better than this."

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