'He can make Lennox Lewis look small'
The next stop for Israeli world heavyweight boxing hopeful Roman Greenberg is the European title.
"Roman Greenberg could become the first billion dollar fighter," the boxer's agent Robert Waterman said at a press conference in Tel Aviv yesterday.
Greenberg, who is aiming to become the first Israeli heavyweight world champion, showed off his IBO intercontinental title, which he won after stopping Russian Alex Vassilev in Monte Carlo last month.
The next stop on the road for Greenberg is an attempt at the European title, with negotiations underway for a bout against the current champion Paolo Vidoz of Italy. No date or location has been set for the fight, but most likely it will take place in the summer in Monte Carlo although Waterman would like it to be held in Israel.
"That is my dream," Greenberg said. "It would be a way to promote boxing in Israel."
If Greenberg can get past Vidoz the next stop for the 23-year-old fighter with a 22-0 professional record is likely to be a bout against Shannon Briggs, who fought Lennox Lewis when the latter was world champion. After that, Greenberg can expect to face the winner of the fight between Chris Byrd of the United States and Vladimir Klitschko, who will clash for the IBO world title later this month.
"It will happen in 2007, perhaps even before," Waterman says of Greenberg's chances of challenging for the IBO world crown. "I think Roman Greenberg can be the first billion dollar boxer; he can make Lennox Lewis look small."
Waterman has done his homework and sells Greenberg as a successor to the great Jewish boxers of the past. Greenberg, however, is looking to the future. He is in Israel to promote himself to the Israeli public and to sign a sponsorship contract with the Sports Betting Council.
Greenberg has come a long way since traveling at his own expense to the European Under-18 Championship where he took a silver medal and after which he turned professional.
Boxers usually turn pro after the age of 20 and after having competed in the Olympic Games, but Greenberg decided to skip that track. "I received an NIS 1,500 stipend from the Olympic Committee of Israel, but it is hard to train under those kind of conditions. It hurts me that there hasn't been investment in boxing in Israel, because one of my dreams was to have been an Olympic champion. You can be a world champion and a former world champion, but being an Olympic champion is something that stays with you forever and I could have beaten the fighters who were at the Olympics."
Greenberg is a smart boxer; he doesn't take a lot of blows and thinks through his fights. "I learn my opponents before and during every fight; I think about every blow and use my head at every moment. People think boxing is about just throwing punches, but only stupid boxers don't think in a fight and they always lose."