By Yuri Tarantin and Alexey Sukachev
The world was at his feet, but the last step proved to be too much for the rising cruiserweight prospect Alexander Alekseev. On January 17, Alexeev, who had been an overwhelming favorite on the eve of his fight against Victor Emilio Ramirez, lost a sensational ninth-round TKO to this relatively unknown Argentinean. Ramirez, just 13-1, with 11 KOs, at the time of the collision, wasn’t probably the best fighter to clash against hard-hitting former amateur star during his impressive three-year-long pro run but he was by far the most determined, and, with the huge risks at stake, in the bout for the interim WBO cruiserweight belt he delivered his lifetime performance to capture the title. It was a major setback for then-undefeated Alekseev. Tonight at Halle 7 in Bremen, Germany, Alexander, who is still ranked #8 by the WBO and #9 by the WBA, will try to erase these sad memories in his first comeback fight against American Max Alexander (14-3-2, 2 KOs).
Fightnews contacted the Russian fighter to know more about his thoughts and feelings.
Your opponent has recently been determined and it will be Max Alexander from the USA. Do you know anything about him?
Truth be told, I don’t care much about his record. His real skills and abilities is what attract my attention. We are carefully studying his manner and, for sure, no underestimation will be expressed towards him. It’s the cruiserweight division, where the single punch can decide it all. Ola Afolabi has just proved it brilliantly. Alexander is a patient boxer; he takes the punch well, so that he is what I need now. I don’t want to make a step back and to fight a really weak opponent.
More than three months have passed since your upset loss to Victor Ramirez in a bid for the world championship. Have you already put this result behind you?
I can’t say I have put it behind me. I think it’s necessary to digest what has occurred rather than to forget about it.
Have you drawn any conclusion from that fight?
The ring will show it all. I prefer to speak with my fists, not with my lips; I’m not a politician by any means, you know.
Have you done any homework to correct the mistakes, you made during the Ramirez fight?
Yeah, for sure. I made lots of mistakes, both tiny and big, during my preparation that time and throughout the whole contest. However, everything was clear. It’s not that there were a number of small reasons that led me into defeat but rather one huge mistake had been made and that resulted in me taking all those punches and subsequently retiring after the ninth round. When fighting a title twelve-rounder, every second is at the price of gold and I dared to be blind to this simple fact. That cost me much.
I watched that fight numerous times in slow motion; I really didn’t want to but I had to. I know that all my future opponents will study my actions carefully to repeat what that Argentinean was able to do during our January clash. I’m sure that Max Alexander is doing the same thing right now, no doubt about it.
Do you think, your head coach did a right move by stopping the contest between the rounds?
I don’t want to look for any excuses. Let’s put it straight: he would have never done such a thing without my acceptance. That’s my responsibility and I’m the only person to be found guilty for that. After that fight, I told media that I was very sorry to lose the bid while leading on points. But I felt that had I continue to fight on I would have been taken to the death limit. The last three rounds could easily have been fatal for me.
Don’t you think that you had been simply overpraised prior Ramirez encounter?
I guess that indeed played its role. So many people expressed their respect that I was simply overconfident and lost any critical perception only to be flicked on my forehead. I hope it was a valuable lesson never to be repeated again.
What about moving up in weight right into the glamour division of the world boxing?
I don’t think about it right now. I have everything to prove and I did nothing at all even in the cruiserweight division. So, first things are at first. My current goal is to solidify my credentials at 200 lbs.
Of course, heavyweight is the most exciting weight class in boxing, no doubt about it. And, for example, the Klitschko brothers do everything right by earning their enormous purses for fighting the cream of the elite, the strongest boxers around. Wladimir is set to fight David Haye, who will be extremely dangerous for him. It’ll be a tough fight for Wladimir. But by taking risks he elevates our sport and makes a name of himself. And he earns the money that he fully deserves to earn; for all those siblings, for all those men who failed to achieve such honors in the past. And I clearly don’t want to be a part of this pool of losers because I want to follow the path of the winner by becoming a successful boxer and an accomplished person altogether.
Speaking about cruiserweight, are you planning to come back into the title mix in the nearest future?
Exactly. I’m planning to make another attempt to become a world champion this fall or in early 2010. I hope I’ll be able to persuade one of the world champions, most probably by the WBA or by the WBO, to give me a chance as soon as possible.
The reigning WBA champion is Panamanian Guillermo Jones, who proved his elite level against Firat Arslan last September. What do you think of him?
Yes, I respect him very much. He is a strong and stylistically sound fighter. I can’t say I’m all that confident not to fear him even a bit. That’s stupid. If you are not a fool, you’ll have a natural taste of fear that will prevent you from taking too much punishment and will increase your fighting ability. I know deeply in my soul that, given a right preparation, I can defeat anybody, no matter how strong he is.
Can your amateur career help you while recovering from your bitterest setbacks?
Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. I feel everything much deeper into my heart than it was in the unpaid ranks. Even when I lost in the first stage of 2004 Athens Olympics (to Odlanier Solis 21-24) and in the final of 2003 Bangkok world championship (also to Solis 15-18) I wasn’t as terribly shocked as in Ramirez fight.
And this naturally leads us to the thought of a rematch, right?
First of all, I want to pay him back very much. You can’t even think how I desire to erase the only blemish in my pro career! Oh, man, I’ll go all way to Argentina to fight Ramirez in his backyard even for free. I really want it! He did almost the same thing when he came to Germany and now I want to follow in his footsteps. I realize that he is not a great fighter by any means. His technique is average at best but he is physically strong, extremely durable with a sheer raw power in both hands. My task is to neutralize his strengths. I’m ready for this and I’m confident in winning a rematch. I must do it and I’ll do it for sure.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Ramirez is fighting Enzo Maccarinelli. Who would have won in that fight?
It depends on where this fight would have taken place. If it had been in Argentina I would have gone with Ramirez on points because he is naturally stronger than Enzo Mac and because he would have been a champion fighting in his backyard. Opposite if it had been in Wales.
Tell us more about your first steps in boxing. Who were your trainers? How did it all begin?
I started my boxing career when I was a kid under the guidance of my father Vyacheslav Alexeev, who was a great boxer himself and who was once the USSR Cup winner in the heavyweight division. My father… Without him I would have never become an accomplished amateur, even a boxer. I think I started to compete with less fire in my eyes after he passed away in 2004. That was a hard loss for me. I hope he is proud with my career now and he will be proud with it in the future.
We were doing great together but aside of remarkable pluses “father-son” relationship can also be a source of various problems. So we decided to add notable amateur trainer Victor Lantsov to our team. Working altogether we won Russian and European championships and were on our way to future successes when my father died. He was later replaced by famous coach Philipp Yakovlev who would help Rakhim Chakhkiev to become 2008 Beijing gold medalist. With Lantsov and Yakovlev behind my back, I took top honors in 2005 Mianyang world championship. That was a top notch of my amateur career and right after that I chose to turn a pro rather than to stay in amateurs. Now Lantsov is working back-to-back with my head coach Fritz Zdunek. There’s no concurrence between them, both trainers are doing their share of work.
Our final question is as simple as it can possibly be. Whom do you want to fight the most?
I want to fight Max Alexander and to crush him inside the ring. That’s what I’m thinking about right now. Later, I wish to take on Wayne Braithwaite despite the fact that he is in the twilight of his wonderful career. Tomasz Adamek is one helluva fighter I want to test my skills against. I know I’ll be an underdog in such a fight but it only helps me to be motivated. Really, there’s a huge pool of talent in cruiserweight division right now. I hope to add my name into contention right after May 2 collision.
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Special thanks to Allboxing.ru web portal for the continuous help in completing this article.