When Ignacio Esparza (16-1, 12 KOs) had his first major step up in competition he came up short in a decision loss to then highly touted prospect Enad Licina in Germany back in 2009. Though Esparza came up short he made a very good account of himself as reflected on the official judges scorecards. Esparza now finds himself getting an even bigger opportunity against the unbeaten WBO #1 ranked cruiserweight Denis Lebedev (19-0,14 KO) on February 22nd in Izhevsk, Russia. Fightnews caught up with Esparza prior to his departure from Mexico. Esparza’s trainer Ramon Arellano pictured with Esparza joined in on the interview. Arellano has worked with former heavweight world champions Oliver McCall, Tony Tucker, and the late Greg Page. It is Page that Arellano gives the credit for giving him his first break into becoming a boxing trainer.
Ignacio what went wrong in your bout with Licina?
I took the bout on short notice and when you’re fighting top level fighters you have to be 100% prepared. I have no regrets though as it was a very good opportunity and my effort led to me getting this fight with Lebedev.
What differences can be expected to be seen from you this time around?
I had a full training camp and will be much better prepared this time around.
What do you know about Lebedev?
The fact that he is the WBO’s number one ranked cruiserweight in the world speaks for itself. I’ve been wanting to fight the best at cruiserweight for a while now and now I’m ready to capitalize on this opportunity.
Ramon, any concerns on the long travel from Mexico to Russia and adjusting to the time change?
We fought Licina on a few weeks notice and Ignacio still did extremely well. In fact, it was Lincina who tired late in the fight not Ignacio. I expect a much better performance this time around by Ignacio with the proper amount of time he was given to prepare for this upcoming fight with Lebedev.
Any concerns dealing with the southpaw Lebedev?
I’m an old school type of trainer and I don’t put too much worry into if a fighter is right-handed or left-handed as long as you’ve prepared accordingly for the style. Iganacio has had plenty of solid lefty sparring and it won’t be a problem. People take Ignacio lightly because he doesn’t have an impressive physique but he is a very underrated skilled boxer and has a very good defense. Ignacio is not like lot of Mexican fighters who will take five punches to land one. He is exactly the opposite. He slips punches well and counters effectively.
Ignacio with you being more of a boxer than pure puncher, do you feel confident you can win by decision?
I’m going to fight my fight and am confident everything will be work out with me doing so.