Photos: Eroll Popova
Headliners on Saturday’s huge “Universum Champions Night” in Rostock, Germany, faced off on Monday during a press conference at a local VW dealer. In the main event, former WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (25-1-1, 17 KOs) takes on Kali Meehan (35-3, 29 KOs) in a WBA eliminator. Also WBC super featherweight world champion Vitali Tajbert defends his belt against the well know Hector Velazquez.
“I’m in top shape and looking forward to Rostock and the fans,” stated Chagaev. “I will take advantage of this chance, I will defeat Meehan, and I will prove that you have to reckon with me again.”
Chagaev’s trainer Magomed Schaburow added, “We’ve trained together since September. It’s a very fruitful relationship. Ruslan is very capable of learning. Everything has gone great in preparation. Ruslan is also a great personality and a terrific person. That makes him pleasant to work with.”
Meehan, however, wasn’t impressed. “The camp is neither here or there since you can’t do anything except train,” he stated. “We’ve also done that. I have 70 rounds of sparring behind me. I’m glad to finally get this chance. I was the WBA #1, but Valuev never wanted to fight me. Now I want to follow a different path towards the world title. I’m looking forward to this opportunity. Ruslan was once world champion, so I have respect for him. Nevertheless, I can beat him and will do it with a KO!”
Meehan’s trainer Stacy McKinley commented, “Chagaev is known as the “White Tyson.” Mike Tyson was world champion for many years. Chagaev nothing like Tyson. We’ll see on Saturday in the ring. Kali will clearly beat him!”
Meehan’s promoter Don King is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.
Tajbert (19-1, 6 KOs) made it known that he has to plans to relinquish his belt in his first defense.
“Hector is a very dangerous guy,” said the champion. “He’s very experienced, has boxed good people. Moreover, it is my first title defense. But in my world championship belt are 17 years of blood and sweat. I never want to give it up. I am very proud of this belt.”
Schaburow, who also trains Tajbert, said “Vitali is young and we have big plans. Vitali backs up his words in the boxing ring with his fists. Always brash and free speaking.”
The 35-year-old veteran Velazquez (51-14-2, 35 KOs) challenged Edwin Valero for theWBC lightweight crown in his previous fight, and fought Elio Rojas for the WBC featherweight crown two fights before that.
“I’m very surprised,” stated Velazquez. “I’m from Mexico the roads there aren’t as clean as here. Even the sidewalks are clean. And I’m also surprised that to not see police and military anywhere as we see in the streets of Mexico.”
Turning his attention to the fight, he continued, “I’ve watched many of Tajbert’s fights on YouTube. He’s a good champion, but I’ll be able to defeat him. I’ve studied him closely.”
World amateur champion Jack Culcay (3-0, 2 KOs) also spoke. Light middleweight Culcay was to have faced Brazilian Isak Tavares on April 24, but Tavares refused to get on a plane due to the Icelandic volcano.
“I hope he shows up this time,” quipped ‘Golden Jack.’ “I look forward to Rostock and I’m also glad that I can quickly return to the ring. In Hamburg last time, I could only show my boxing for one round then it was already over. But I realize I’m slowly rolling. The early excitement has subsided and I’m getting used to the big crowds and TV.”
This Universum Champions Night card is particularly loaded with talent.
In heavyweight action, former WBO heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich (24-3, 15 KOs) will take on Evans Quinn (18-3-1, 16 KOs) plus Sebastian Köber (19-1, 13 KOs) meets Markus Tomala (6-2, 3 KOs) in a battle of German heavyweights.
In an important light heavyweight crossroads bout, former world title challenger Aleksy Kuziemski (18-1, 4 KOs) takes on unbeaten prospect Igor Michalkin (11-0, 7 KOs) with the winner landing right in the midst of the world title landscape.
Also all-action flyweight Pal “Pimpa” Bedak (7-0, 4 KOs) returns against Pedro Cardenas (12-6, 7 KOs).