Feature Story

Q&A with Ismayl Sillakh

By Przemek Garczarczyk

“Ismayl Sillakh (17-0, 14 KOs) is a great talent and the new power in the light heavyweight division. He’s ranked as #2 light heavyweight in the world by the WBC and should fight Jean Pascal. There’s no question about it,” says John Wirt, CEO of Square Ring, who represents 26-year old Ukrainian living in California.

“The statement made by Yvon Michel, Pascal’s promoter, that Ismayl cannot fight Pascal yet because ‘he never fought anybody from the top 20’ is simply not true. When Sillakh convincingly beat then undefeated Yordanis Despaigne, a great Cuban talent, Yordanis was ranked #9 by WBC. There’s more. Ismail ‘beat the guy who beat the guy,’ because the same Yordanis Despaigne had no problems in defeating Jean Pascal during 2004 Olympic boxing tournament in Athens.”

Leaving verbal confrontations to promoters, Fightnews spoke with Ismayl Sillakh:

During the last WBC convention in Las Vegas you were in the eye of the storm, the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins ‘who will fight who next’ controversy. Before we talk about you as a new face in the light heavyweight division, give us our opinion about what happened in the first fight between of two of your potential opponents.

I was watching this fight from the ringside in the Staples Center and my first reaction was ‘What? Hopkins did it again?’ It was a quick, first reaction and of course, after we all see medical statements, we can assume the shoulder injury really happened. But no matter what the medical opinion was then, I think that Hopkins will never fight Dawson again. I know that the WBC decided that a rematch is necessary, but I don’t believe Hopkins wants to fight Chad again.

So, I just want to tell those guys that if they don’t want to fight each other, they can fight me. If they think I will be an easy prey for them, a #2 WBC ranked relatively unknown guy, even more reasons not to be afraid. Hopkins and Dawson are great fighters, world champions – there’s no question about that. But this night it was something in Dawson’s eyes, something special and I think Hopkins did see that. Fighters feel those dangerous moments.

Critics will say that you are not a household name and you want to fight the light heavyweight elite.

I understand that, but I’ve fought every man put in front of me and beat them all. During the WBC convention, I could not get a straight answer from Jean Pascal’s people to the very simple question ‘will he fight me or not?’ I can go to Canada, no problem. We can even fight in his backyard. This is not a problem for me. I understand that boxing is about money but we as a fighters have to be ready to defend our positions according to the rankings. Right now, I’m the #2 ranked light heavyweight by WBC and for some reason none of the guys want to fight me. When the WBC decided in July of this year that four of us, me, Zsolt Erdei, Chris Henry and Jean Pascal, should fight an eliminator, I was happy to have a chance to prove what I’m worth. In the end, although all of those guys signed the agreement, none of the fights happened. All of them decided to withdraw for various reasons. So, if you want to be perfectly correct, Jean already should have fought me, but it never happened.

Do you have preferences who you want to fight?

I’m working out, training every day, waiting for my phone to ring. They can call me two weeks before the event and I still will be ready to fight. This is my moment to shine. I just want to prove my worth.

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