By Wimbo Satwiko
Chris John is preparing to defend his title for a 15th time but this one is different: he’ll be fighting a European for the first time.
Chris, the World Boxing Association featherweight super champion, will face Stanyslav Merdov of Ukraine, currently ranked 11th in the WBA. The bout is scheduled for Nov. 30 at Challenge Stadium in Perth, Australia.
The 32-year-old Indonesian has been training in Perth since the middle of August and is now making his final preparations for the bout.
“We’ve had a good preparation so far,” Chris said on Tuesday. “It’s been one and a half months of preparation and I hope I don’t have any trouble before the big day. I am aiming for the best result — to retain my title.”
Merdov, 35, who is 32-7-0 (24 KOs), will be Chris’s first European opponent.
“European fighters have a different style. I need to see the tape so that we can come up with a good strategy when I fight him,” he said.
Chris — who has 45 wins (22 by knockout) and two draws in 47 bouts — hasn’t fought in six months, since he defeated fellow Indonesian Daud Yordan on April 17 by unanimous decision.
Promoter Mahkota Promotion struggled to set up another fight for Chris. Several names were tossed around as potential opponents, including Satoshi Hosono of Japan. In the end, Merdov was chosen.
“It’s a choice fight, so we can select the opponent in order to make the fight more interesting,” the matchmaker Martinez Dos Santos said.
“If we look at Merdov’s record, he’s a good boxer. Chris needs to be very careful with him, as he has different style than Chris’s previous opponents.”
Merdov is the European Boxing Association featherweight champion. It will be his first attempt at a world title after losing the World Boxing Organization featherweight belt to Oleh Yefimovych in 2007.
Promoter Raja Sapta Oktohari said he was committed to Chris and saw more big fights in his future.
“We are fully committed to supporting Chris,” he said. “If it’s possible, we have plans for him to win more titles. It’s his decision whether to retire or continue his career, but when I look at him, I see that he still has the hunger to win more fights with us.”