By Alexey Sukachev and Andrey Bazdrev
Balashikha, a small satellite city four kilometers to the east of Moscow, can host a championship doubleheader, says well known Russian manager Vladimir Hrunov. The preliminary date is October 10, and the whole tournament can land at the local ice arena. “We are working hard to arrange a world class show in this beautiful city and we hope to get two title fights for cruiserweight Denis Lebedev and bantamweight Alexander Bakhtin. Though it will be a tough task to accomplish, I see a positive trend and, with the help of my partners, I wish to stage here something really memorable.”
Photos: Andrey Bazdrev
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Headlining the card will be the new Russian up and comer Denis Lebedev (18-0, 13 KOs), who is coming off a spectacular third round stoppage of former world champion Enzo Maccarinelli from Wales the last week. With the victory in that bout Lebedev, previously ranked #7 by the WBO, added the vacant WBO Intercontinental belt to his resume with a huge future leap up in ranks being solidly predicted.
“I was a bit nervous prior the fight, as I always am; I felt the pressure,” said Lebedev. “But just when the battle began, I realized my excellent conditioning and the fight plan would help me to defeat Enzo.”
“He is a great man and we had nothing personal between each other, no bad blood,” continued the boxing pride of Stary Oskol. “Maccarinelli even came to my dressing room and congratulated me on the win. His coach Karl Ince was by far less correct before the fight. As for the clash itself, it went accordingly to the plan. When I came back to the corner after the second round, I asked my coach, what would be the next for me, and he simply answered that the knockout was just ahead. He was right.”
Denis, 29, a diligent and modest young man, was also thankful in his comments, “The win would have been much harder to achieve without harmonious and heartful relationship in my team. I wish to thank every member of it but especially my new cutman Andrey Kozlov, Serpukhov native Alexey Galeev and his pupil Sergey Kolchugin, who helped me much as a sparring partner.”
“I wish to point out Kozlov’s role in our team. He is a new man here and he did just fine. He wasn’t only a cutman but also a key player during our preparations, working as a conditioning trainer for Denis,” said Hrunov. “This victory wasn’t a sensation. Only people, who knew Lebedev bad, weren’t sure in him. He was in the best shape of his whole career.”
What is the next for Lebedev? “We are planning a world title fight for Denis on October 10. We hope to get one of the champions to Balashikha, and I’m sure that Denis is more than capable to become the next bright star in this talent filled boxing division. We don’t know the name yet but it most probably won’t be Victor Emilio Ramirez (reigning WBO champion), who has already been booked by Marco Huck and his team for Aug. 29.”
Lebedev is managed by Vladimir Hrunov and promoted by Frank Warren’s Sports Network.
Another top rated world contender to take his part in Balashikha tournament will be Japan based Russian bantamweight Alexander Bakhtin (23-0, 10 KOs), one of the best 118lbers around. Bakhtin, who was 124-4 with 80 KOs at unpaid ranks, is a well known boxing personality in Japan, holding a local record for the most natonal title defenses in his weight class (9 over three years between 2003 and 2006). WBC #2 and WBA/IBF #5 Bakhtin is the reigning OPBF champion with a sound chain of quality wins over solid opposition, including former world title challengers Hidenobu Honda, Masaki Kawabata and Gerson Guerrero, as well as tough Filipino Jesse Maca and Indonesian champion Richard Samosir in his last fight this July.
Bakhtin, 27, who fought overseas for nine years, is relocating himself back to his Homeland, after signing a managerial agreement with Vladimir Hrunov. “Sasha is just as talented as Denis is. He has all the tools to become a world champion and, given that we have a common goal and a good chemistry between each other, I think he can get his chance to fight one of the titlists already on October 10, also in Balashikha,” said Hrunov. “Bakhtin is coming back and he will be presented appartments in Balashikha with the special ceremony during the October show. Sasha will train at Victor Petrovich Ageev’s sports gym, which is also located in the same city (Ageev is a former amateur legend and the current president of the Professional Boxing Federation of Russia). He will train along with young boxers and teenagers and that will be extremely useful for the next generation of fighters. I hope Bakhtin will become the face of this city.”
“As for his promoter, Bakhtin is now a promotional free agent. We are working hard to arrange the best solution for his future career. We have several offers from German, American and British companies,” added his new manager.
Also scheduled to fight on Oct. 10 is a young Russian heavyweight Vladimir Tereshkin (10-0-1, 5 KOs).