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Feature Story

Sillakh ready for spotlight

By Przemek Garczarczyk
Photo: Stoyan Vassev

“I would like to beat Bernard Hopkins for the championship, but it will probably not happen and I would have to fight Chad Dawson who is the favorite to win a WBC belt this Saturday. But I also know that I have to look good this Friday to prove to all fans that I belong in the light heavyweight elite,” said #2 WBC ranked light heavyweight Ismayl Sillakh (17-0, 14 KOs), who will look to prove his worth and talent against undefeated Russian Dennis Gratchev (11-0, 7 KOs) on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights from Austin, Texas.

If I ask why people should start watching a relatively unknown light heavyweight named Ismayl Sillakh, what would you say?

I would say ‘Give me a chance to prove you how good I am.’ I’m convinced that American fans who will watch me this Friday on ESPN2 will see all what they like about boxing – power, speed, combinations, the whole package. This is what I bring to the table. Some people who are watching baseball like home runs, another likes to watch pitchers or defense. I have everything boxing fans like to see when they watch my sport.

You are Ukrainian, living in California, and will fight on American television broadcasted from Austin, Texas against an undefeated Russian also currently living in the States.

This is the world of boxing today. Small world. Grachev is a tough, Russian fighter. We all are tough and hard. And he did not look for excuses like all the other fighters when I asked them to fight. I did not lose a fight in my career, he also won every fight he fought. Something’s got to give on Friday. I know that he can punch, but I can move, throw combinations, my jab is my primary weapon but there’s one thing people underestimate when they talk about me – I like to think in the ring. I love boxing and being in the ring, outsmarting the other guy, always trying to be better, more efficient with every passing round, this is what is making me happy.

You want to be a world champion – who is your number one today and who would you like to fight?

I would like to beat Bernard Hopkins for championship because he’s the legend, but it will probably not happen and I would like to have a chance fight Chad Dawson. He is my favorite to win a WBC belt this Saturday. For me Hopkins was a number one light heavyweight for a long time and there’s just four of us on the top right now: Hopkins, Dawson, Jean Pascal and me. But I also know that I have to look good this Friday against Grachev, to prove to all fans that I belong in the light heavyweight elite and deserve my chance. I know that I’m good enough, it’s the time to convince all the fans about it.




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