By Alexey Sukachev
Though the latest world financial meltdown surely took its sad toll on various activities including the so-called “boxing industry” and other related branches of sportive economics and show business, not everyone made a step back in its development. One of those lucky men who have solidified his positions during the crisis is promoter German Titov, who enjoyed a nice year in 2009. With considerable assistance and financial backup of Kirill Pchelnikov, two-time (2007 and 2008) the Russian promoter of the year staged or co-promoted a considerable amount of events all over the country and signed a new wave of prospects, including Beijing gold medalist Felix Diaz and Ukrainian super heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov.
What is ahead for German Titov Promotions this year? To know more about Titov’s plans and the future of his fighters this reporter has spoken with German in person.
“I’m planning a huge year in 2010 and I hope to reserve world title opportunities for my fighters at last,” says Titov. “We shall also arrange a handful of boxing tournaments in various places and cities of Russia.”
We then went on to discuss plans for the certain fighters in different weight classes:
“Our main heavyweight force is Denis Bakhtov (32-5, 21 KOs). Denis, WBA #11, will fight Steffen Kretschmann (14-1, 13 KOs) next in a rematch of his sensational first-round TKO over a previously unbeaten prospect last July. The clash for Bakhtov’s PABA title has been already set for March 27 in Hamburg, Germany, and it will headline a major tournament, promoted by Arena Boxing. Frankly speaking, I don’t quite get Team Kretschmann. Surely, they used a rematch clause in Bakhtov’s fight contract but is it a wise move? I don’t think so. I’m sure Denis has broken this guy into pieces and relocated him to the world of shock and uncertainty in their initial fight. My inner belief is that Bakhtov will once again destroy his opponent and solidify his position at world ranks.
As for Glazkov (3-0, 1 KO), he is currently receiving his US visa. Vyacheslav, who we hope will improve drastically in 2010, is going to travel overseas at the end of January to prepare there for upcoming bouts both in Europe and in America. We have already clinched him a televised spot on ESPN, which is very interested in our fighter. Most probably he will make his American TV debut in February.”
“Our most important goal is to bring a long-awaited world title opportunity to one of the most underrated but skillful fighters in the elite of 200 lbs. I’m talking about Grigory Drozd (32-1, 23 KOs), 30, who is highly rated by every major sanctioning body (WBO #2, WBA #3, IBF #5 and WBC #9). Most probably we shall concentrate on moving him up through IBF ranks. The title here is vacant since Tomasz Adamek has moved up in weight. It’ll be contested by IBF #1 Steve Cunningham and IBF #3 Matt Godfrey in March, and Grigory will find himself in position to fight for the belt right after this. I’m planning him a major bout somewhere in April, and it’ll be either a world title fight or a final eliminator.
As for the WBO, Drozd has lost his #1 position as he wasn’t as active as Denis Lebedev, who is on the top of the WBO ranks right now and rightfully so. Grigory last fought in July and it was his only appearance in 2009 while Denis has got three sound wins over quality opposition, which was surely a great result for him. WBO champion Marko Huck has plenty of time to conduct his mandatory defense and we’re sure he doesn’t want any part of Drozd, so this way is blocked for a while. The crossroader between D rozd and Lebedev for a position of obligatory challenger can, however, be an inspiring solution but nothing is resolved yet. We shall weigh-in all the options in the nearest future.”
“We have two young talents here. Russian 175lb champion Vasily Lepikhin (7-0, 4 KOs) has just got back from Germany, where he has been sparring with reigning European light heavyweight champion Karo Murat. Unfortunately, Vasily fell ill during his stay abroad so it would take some time for him to recover. The second half of 2009 was horrible for Lepikhin, who suffered some damage to his arms during a memorable fist cuff versus Roman Simakov in July. It took him a lengthy period to heal his wounds but the he fell ill once again. We shall soon discuss his future plans but what I tend to do is to settle him a comeback fight somewhere in March. Most probably we shall set it as the optional defense of his Baltic Boxing Union light heavyweight title if the opponent is right.
As for aforementioned Simakov, Roman (9-1-1, 5 KOs) is set to fight Ukrainian Vasyl Kondor (18-8-1, 5 KOs) on Feb. 6 in Moscow. Simakov had a busy year in 2009; he dropped a split decision to Lepikhin but looked much better in outpointing Mikhail Krinitsin in November. I hope he will improve further in 2010.”
“The shining gem of my team Dmitry Pirog (14-0, 11 KOs) is on the brink of fighting for one of the major boxing titles. On Feb. 6, Dmitry (WBO #2, WBC #4, IBF #12 and WBA #15) faces tough American veteran Aaron “Homicide” Mitchell (27-1-1, 21 KOs) in the next defense of his WBO Asia Pacific middleweight belt. This collision will be designated by the World Boxing Organization as the fight to approve Pirog’s status of mandatory challenger for the WBO middleweight title currently owned by Kelly Pavlik. Pirog was first slated to have Ishe Smith as his foe but that bout has fallen through because we haven’t been able to reach an agreement with Smith’s manager. Our party was ready to bring this bout to the ESPN as was Lou DiBella but Team Smith has rejected this offer for some reason. As for Mitchell, he is a dangerous opponent who has wins over former world champion Manning Galloway and such notables as Leonard Townsend and Miguel Julio and his only split loss came from the hands of future titlist Keith Mullings. If successful against Mitchell – and we hope he is – Pirog will be in position to fight for the WBO title. We have big plans ahead of Dmitry and one of our primary goals is to arrange him a championship fight in 2010.
Max Limonov (11-0, 7 KOs), 20, was previously scheduled to face one of Matt Korobov’s last opponents. However, we were completely disappointed with the treatment from our American partners. We had previously agreed on March. 5 but instead they sent us a contract where the fifth of February was marked. Even if we had really wished to take this offer, Max wouldn’t have been prepared to fight so early in 2010. Instead he will next appear in Barnaul on March 5 in a non-title fight.
I still have the rights to promote Kuvanych’s Toygonbayev (30-6, 19 KOs) next bouts but he is on his way down and he is mostly considered as an opponent following his recent defeats. However, I’m planning to give him another chance against his compatriot Sherzod Husanov (14-0-1, 7 KOs) in future. As for Khurtsidze fight (which ended as an eight-round technical decision in favor of the Kiev-based Georgian), that fight is one and done and I strongly doubt that K2 East is indeed interested in a rematch.”
“The bout between Toygonbayev and Husanov (WBO #11 / WBC #15) will most probably be held on March 13 at light middleweight limit if Husanov isn’t to receive more lucrative offers in the closest future. We still aren’t sure of the venue but I guess Rostov-on-Don is the most compelling possibility. If not I’m ready to conduct this fight in Ekaterinburg on the same date.”
“My Croatian protégé Ante Bilic (20-2, 9 KOs) must choose what he wants to do next. I cannot quite get his intentions as he wants to fight somebody on the first day and contradicts his previous will on the second day. We are ready to get him back on track but he needs to notify us that he indeed wants to fight anybody. As far as I know, he wishes to continue his career and we are ready to help him.”
“We have a number of talented prospects in this weight class. Two biggest hopes for us here are Felix Diaz and Ruslan Provodnikov. Diaz (4-0, 3 KOs), who has just blitzed Czech Bronislav Kubin (9-2, 5 KOs) in two rounds, will next fight in February on American soil and I think it will be televised by ESPN, who is deeply interested in our gold medalist (of Beijing Olympics).
Another big draw here is WBO #9 Ruslan Provodnikov (14-0, 9 KOs), 26, who also holds WBO I/C title at 140 lbs. Last year was a busy one (sorts of) for Ruslan who fought four times (including a bout which was televised by ESPN) and also achieved some academic success. He will next appear as a part of Feb. 12 ESPN Friday Night Fights when he is to fight former IBF lightweight champion of the world Javier Jauregui (53-16-2, 36 KOs) during the show, arranged by Banner Promotions. Ruslan is well prepared and ready to show his best skills at fight time in a scheduled ten-rounder. We know Jauregui is a dangerous foe even though he was out of the ring for more than a year. Provodnikov was previously scheduled to fight Aris Ambriz (13-0-1, 7 KOs) but he decided to take an interim fight (against Jose Reynoso, which ended in eight-round draw on Thursday night) so his name was dropped out from the list of possible opponents by ESPN representatives. Anyway, Ruslan is ready to deliver his A-game on fight night. He is aware of the fact that the win can hugely promote his status overseas and maybe he can even get a spot at HBO. Who knows?
Fariz Kazimov (11-1-1, 3 KOs) is slowly recovering after a serious surgery, which has been performed following his banner victory over WBO ex-titlist DeMarcus Corley (36-12-1, 23 KOs) in November. I know there is a stir over the Web about DeMarcus having been robbed in this fight (the official result is a ten-round split decision – 97-93 (twice) and 93-97 – in Kazimov’s favor). Personally, I think the fight should have been scored a draw (95-95) or 94-96 – for Corley. I guess if it had been conducted somewhere else, the outcome of this clash would have been different. However, I couldn’t omit making several remarks regarding the original result. First of all, DeMarcus himself wasn’t that disappointed about the outcome of the fight and didn’t even protest much. Secondly, our fighter was very inexperienced prior to this meeting. He debuted as a pro at nineteen and he has no amateur background, so he had to study the sweet science literally in the fight. The most important, however, was the fact that Kazimov had just suffered a punishing injury in sparring session with Provodnikov, who had broken his nose. I cannot help but applaud Fariz’s courage for taking this bout. We had no other choice but to go on with the show because of the fact that other fighters were withdrawing from the competition one after another. So, in spite of a serious risk, Kazimov took on this highly skilled veteran to save the whole tournament and he delivered everything he could and showed an unbelievable grit and steel will. I’m planning his return to the squared circle in May or in June. Fariz, being just 22 now, will most probably have a fight for either WBC Youth or WBO Youth junior welterweight titles.”
“WBO #15 Dmitry Ganiev (11-0-1, 5 KOs) will next fight on the same card as Sherzod Husanov. His WBO Asia Pacific and PABA lightweight belts will be at stake but I cannot yet name his opponent. It will either be a sound name or a quality fighter from the former Soviet Union depending on the allocated funds.”
“Alisher Rahimov (20-0, 11 KOs), 32, is an aging but extremely skillful fighter. He hasn’t much time left so we try hard to bring him a major bout on American TV in any weight class possible (Rahimov is ranked #9 by the WBO at 130 lbs and also holds WBC International lightweight title). We hope to land a date in March.
Our Uzbek protégé Gayrat Abduhakimov (10-0, 6 KOs) is recovering from the injury right now and we haven’t any solid dates for him. As for Fedor Papazov (3-0, 2 KOs), he will next battle on Feb. 25 in Ekaterinburg against an opponent to be defined later. There’s a possibility he will face Evgueny Khil (5-3-1) in a four-rounder.”
“On Feb. 20, Andrey Isaev (22-1, 7 KOs) will have one of the most important bouts of his career so far. Andrey (WBO #5) takes on skillful Ukrainian Oleg Yefimovich (17-1, 11 KOs) for Oleg’s European featherweight title in Donetsk. The contract is signed; the whole show will be staged by Union Boxing Promotion.
Vyacheslav Gusev (16-2, 3 KOs) was scheduled to come back to the ring, after a disputed loss to Juan Carlos Burgos, last December in America, but we were forced to scratch that fight for a number of reason. Vyacheslav is now helping Andrey Isaev to prepare for the upcoming challenge. He is penciled to appear next in March in a virtual eight-rounder though the opponent is yet to be defined.”
“Ilhom Rahimov (6-0, 4 KOs) is one fighter whom we pin our highest hopes on. He will fight no slouch in his next outing as he faces no other than WBO #10 bantamweight Sahib Usarov (13-0, 6 KOs) in an eight-rounder at 126 lbs on Feb. 6 on the same show with Simakov and Pirog. He is a great fighter and we are sure he has all the tools to pass this hard test excellently.”
“Rustam Nabeev (4-0) is set to return on Feb. 25 and we shall see whom he will take on then. There are few ranked fighters in this weight class in Europe, so I hope to give him a stern test in summer and, if he passes it, he will be in position to fight for European crown.”