By Robert Coster
On March 13th, former WBA jr featherweight champion Mahyar Monshipour scored a convincing TKO win over fellow ex-champ Felix Machado in Ameneville, France. It was the French-Iranian boxer’s third victory on the comeback path since retiring in 2006 after losing his title. Mahyar has stated that his comeback is not for money but “for honor” with the purpose of winning a world title at age 34. Monshipour’s comeback has been seen as ” ill-advised” by some pundits but is welcomed by his legions of fans in France who just adore the little (5’4″) champion with the big heart and believe in him. Fightnews sat down with Mahyar Monshipour to talk about his comeback and what lays ahead in the coming months.
Q: Mahyar, what is your report card on your performance against Felix Machado, a former world champion like yourself?
A: I’m pretty satisfied. I would say the old Mahyar is back at 80%.
Q: Machado expected to give you problems with his height and southpaw stance. He was surprised how well you cut off the ring. You worked on that?
A: I think I’m becoming an expert on fighting southpaws (smiles). Well, I’ve never been a technical virtuoso. I started late in boxing and got on the job training. I do believe, however, that I’m good at “framing”my opponent’s moves, being right on top of him and cutting off the ring. As you know I am an offensive-minded boxer but not without strategy.
Q: Why do you think you are so popular in France?
A: Fans like my offensive-style. They know that I always give my best, win or lose. I never cheat my fans. On a personal basis, I have never gotten a swelled head. I am the son of refugees who escaped the regime in Iran. I have stayed humble and my story is similar to that of other immigrants who came to this country in search of a dream of opportunity and freedom.
Q: You said your comeback is “for honor.” Can you explain that?
A: When I retired in 2006, I really meant it. But, with time, I felt that the story shouldn’t end there. I feel I can write another page, a glorious page winning a world title again. And honor? Boxing is always about honor, it’s a way of life though which honor is won and honor is lost. I want my honor back.
Q: At what weight would you like to fight for a title?
A: I would like to fight, this time, at the bantamweight class–be a two division world titleholder.
Q: When would there be such a title fight?
A: Very soon, hopefully in the summer. My next fight would be for the title, if everything works out.
Q: If you lose, do you stop or do you continue?
A: My comeback is to fulfill my ambition of being a world champion again,nothing else. If I lose, I retire.
Q : You are also taking your first steps as a promoter, right?
A: I certainly would like to make a career of that but boxing is in crisis in France and the economic situation is bad. I have signed a group of young boxers. As a boxer, I can bring an insight that promoters usually don’t have.
Q: What advice do you give these young boxers?
A: Don’t try to cheat. Boxing is hard work and you must train. Every training session has to serve a specific objective and, at the end, you look back to see what you done and learned. And you must surround yourself with competent, reliable people.
Q: If your son wants to be a boxer someday, would it be OK with you?
A: Yes. I would try to teach him what I know. And tell him, as I said before, ” Don’t cheat in the gym or you will fail. There are no shortcuts to the top.”