Photos: Eroll Popova
On Saturday in Stuttgart, Germany, the motto will be “First the World Cup, than the Boxing World Cup.” Saturday’s Universum Champons Night” event at the Porsche Arena will be a world title twinbill. Former world champion and local favorite Firat Arslan (29-4-1, 18 KOs) takes on Steve Herelius (19-1-1, 11 KOs) for the WBA interim world championship and unbeaten WBC/WIBF/WBO female featherweight champion Ina Menzer (26-0, 10 KOs) meets Jeannine Garside (9-3-1, 4 KOs), who is considered by one ratings group to be better than Menzer, a situation Menzer intends to correct. Here’s what they had to say at today’s press conference.
Arslan, who is returning from a career-threatening bicycling injury in January 2009, stated “I have great respect for my opponent. He’s unbeaten as a cruiserweight. But I’m at an age where I don’t want any more build-up fights and want to fight for it all. I want to show what’s still in me. I feel great. I spent five weeks in the Austrian Alps in training camp and I feel great. I went 80 rounds against two sparring partners. Everything went perfectly. I’m ready and I want to be world champion again.”
French strongman Herelius will be fighting for the first time on German soil. “I know all about Germany,” he stated. “I have served as a sparring partner for Wladimir Klitschko, Nikolai Valuev and Alexander Povetkin. From this I have drawn a lot of experience. I look forward to the fight. I’ve been in Stuttgart since since Sunday and have seen some of this beautiful city, but I’m not a tourist. I’ll take the belt back home. Firat is a very tough guy. He never gives up. I know that. But I also have a strong will. People, this will be a beautiful and exciting fight. Be ready for anything!”
Menzer will be featured in the ZDF-televised main event. “Saturday will be a good day for Germany. First Jogi Loew’s guys will win, then Firat and I will win our championships. But I also know that like the World Cup team has a very hard match, Jeannine is better than her fight record indicates. I wonder, of course, why the Internet world rankings put her one place better than me. I’m going to change with my fists.”
Garside had just touched down in Germany shortly before. “I drove straight here from the airport,” she said. “My body clock is still set at 3AM. I only have to get my jetlag under control. I’m grateful for the opportunity to box against Ina. After my last fight I was pushed up the world rankings. It makes me so proud to be at No. 1. Ina is a great champion. It’ll be an exciting fight. I have already fought in Korea and Bosnia. I know about the underdog role abroad. My advisors told me that I have no chance to win on points in Germany. So I hope for a fair decision. I want to decide this fight with my fists. Ina is a good champion,” but I know what I have to do. ”
Famed trainer Michael Timm, who has trained eleven Universum world champions and prepared both Menzer and Firat for their bouts, stated “I am very pleased with how everything went. Coming into our difficult matches, if Inna and Firat get everything out of themselves, nothing should go wrong. In training Ina has taken another step forward. She always inspires me with the professionalism in which she works. Firat is known for his will to win. He’ll once again give 110%. I’m ceratain of that.”
The undercard will feature some of boxing’s brightest prospects.
Olympic heavyweight gold medalist Rachim Tschachkijew (5-0, 5 KOs) hopes to continue his fearsome run of knockouts in the cruiserweight division against Lukasz Rusiewicz (8-8, 1 KO)
Unbeaten “Golden Jack” Culcay (3-0, 2 KOs), the first German to win an amateur world championship in 14 years, will be giving up 7″ against rangy Frenchman Yoann Camonin (11-6-1, 3 KOs) in a junior middleweight bout.
Also seeing action is former world title challenger Matt Zegan will also see action on a fight broadcast to Poland live on Polsat.