By Alexey Sukachev
It was almost a month and a half ago, when German Titov, 2008 Russian promoter of the year, staged a training camp for his boxers in Los Angeles, California. The purpose of this overseas trip was to prepare Eastern European fighters from Team Titov for upcoming challenges in both USA and Europe as well as to seek possible high-profile match-ups they could eventually take their part in. Now, back to Russia, Titov spoke to Fightnews about the noise which had been created in Californian gyms by his protégées and the future outcome of the camp.
German, in January you travelled across half of the Earth to showcase your fighters in front of world-known coaches, managers and promoters on the west coast of the USA. What are your feelings of the whole journey? And what impressions of your boxers have been gained by American boxing community?
It was wonderful. We have really made some noise around LA gyms and elevated our stock considerably. You know, Los Angeles is a world center of professional boxing along with Las Vegas, New York and a few more. Our guys were put in the very thick of the pugilistic industry and it was a great learning experience. One cannot afford the luxury of sitting at home and fighting club fighters in his homeland. That is a blind alley for both boxers and their promoters. In order to develop your skills and to be competitive among world-class athletes you need to train among them, you need to learn from the best of the sport. And it was exactly the goal of the trip. Of course, if you train abroad you’ll get some chance to fight abroad as well. So, my own purpose, aside from helping my fighters in their preparation for future tests, was to look for possible lucrative paydays for them. And I had some success building a foundation for future negotiations with several major players in the promotional business. I’ve received offers for my fighters to take part in major shows but I don’t want to reveal any names now. We shall see how it will play out pretty soon.
Who was the most impressive of the whole bunch
Definitely, it was (WBO #6) super featherweight Alisher Rakhimov (18-0, 10 KOs). He looked astonishing throughout the camp, shocking guest trainers and managers with his ability and skill. For example, Freddie Roach asked us about possible work with Rakhimov. He said Alisher had all the tools to become a world champion after a proper preparation.
However, Rakhimov isn’t young. He is already 31 years of age.
Unfortunately, that’s a factor. However, the fighter is always as old as his body and fighting spirit tells him. Rakhimov is 31 years young. He looks and competes exactly like a 25-year old pro. He is very competitive. Mr. Roach himself was disappointed with his biometrics but later told us that he was interested in Alisher anyway.
What’s next for Rakhimov?
We are planning to put Ali in one of minor shows in America. After that we shall try to get him a TV date on one of lesser caliber cable channels. Nothing is resolved yet, however.
Tell us more about the two other featherweights in the gym (WBO #4) Andrey Isaev and (WBO #7) Vyacheslav Gusev.
Both guys looked sharp and poised, giving all they could in gym wars against young Mexicans, affiliated by Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions. Gusev (16-1, 3 KOs) was extremely tough giving a beating to one of the major unbeaten prospects in his weight class. I want to underline once again that our fighters are just as talented as Americans, Mexican or Filipinos. Given an appropriate training camp, world-class coaches and some luck, they can achieve the same degree of recognition as their fellow foreign colleagues. My goal is to provide them with all the necessary conditions for such actions. In case of Gusev and Isaev (19-1, 6 KOs) they will start from lesser tournaments and will try to make their way to TV dates.
Two fighters from higher weight classes also took part in training sessions. I’m talking about middleweight Dmitry Pirog (WBO #6 and WBC #15) and junior welterweight Sergey Sorokin.
I’ve reached a preliminary agreement with one of the leading cable networks to showcase them as parts of their respected boxing TV series. I will not name it but you’ll be positively surprised at the end. Dmitry (13-0, 11 KOs) will come back in April and Sergey (28-1-1, 19 KOs) is slated for his TV debut in May. Both of the aforementioned boxers are now in Russia but they will return to LA in several weeks to continue their preparation there.
There was yet another boxer from your team during the camp wasn’t there?
Exactly. Ukrainian heavyweight WBO #15 Alexey Mazikin (13-2-1, 3 KOs) also took his part in training sessions. He is scheduled to face Nigerian journeyman Friday Ahunanya (24-5-3, 13 KOs) in late April.
Not all of your boxers took part in the camp. One of the most known names outside the LA-based fighters is highly regarded cruiserweight Grigory Drozd, who is ranked #2 by the WBA, #4 by the WBO and #5 by both WBC and IBF. There were rumors of him facing fellow stablemate Valery Volozhenin (12-0-1, 6 KOs) on a huge March 6th, Arena Box-Promotion card in Cuxhaven, Germany. Is it true?
No, this fight isn’t happening. Drozd will fly over to LA in order to train there and to prepare for an inevitable world title shot. We tried hard to get him a multi-eliminator with Steve Cunningham but this fight has just fallen through. Instead, Cunningham will face off with Wayne Braithwaite and Drozd is on the outside looking in. I’m sure though that he will have his title chance by the end of the year. Moreover, I’m convinced we shall have two or three fighters more in championship bouts in a year or so.
Your second heavyweight under contract is WBA #14 Denis Bakhtov (28-5, 18 KOs). What is next for him?
He has a hard challenge in the face of German Steffen Kretschmann (13-0, 12 KOs) during the aforementioned tournament. Kretschmann is a tough guy with a thunderous punch and solid amateur credentials. However, Bakhtov will be a huge step up for him. It’ll be a heated contest with both parties possessing equal chances for a final success.
– One of your fighters has already been exposed on American TV. Tell us more about him.
His name is Ruslan Provodnikov (11-0, 7 KOs), he is a junior welterweight and, yes, his fights were broadcasted during ESPN2 Friday Night Fights last year. We shall continue to build him a following both in Russia and in America. In Russia, Provodnikov is already taking part in an annual International Tszyu Cup. In 2009, this respected tournament has a knockout formula, which means Ruslan needs four consecutive victories to become a winner (including a possible final with the latter successor). Several days ago he started just fine cruising to a convincing six-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Abdulaziz Matazimov with two knockdowns down the road. In America, Provodnikov will continue to take ESPN dates as a part of their TV program. His next fight has already been set on March 20th in Laredo, Texas, against an opponent to be named soon.
You have spoken a lot about your activities abroad. What is next for Russian fans and what shall they expect from you till the end of the year?
Team Titov is ready to deliver quality shows in Russia almost every month. We shall continue our old tradition to stage fights at Casino Vodoley in Ekaterinburg. Our first show is scheduled for March, 12th, and will feature WBO #13 light middleweight Sherzod Husanov (11-0, 6 KOs) and young guns Vasily Lepikhin (5-0, 3 KOs) and Roman Simakov (4-0-1, 4 KOs). On April, 9, we are arranging another show at Vodoley; this time unbeaten Gayrat Abdulhakimov (8-0, 5 Kos) and hard-hitting Max Limonov (8-0, 6 KOs) will headline. And lots of more of the same kind will come soon.