By Alexey Sukachev
BoxRec lists a tiny show being pre-planned for May 16 in at Casino Conti in St. Petersburg, Russia, under the aegis of Germany-based Ukrainian expatriate Sergey Mitchnik. Even though an only eight-rounder is tentatively scheduled (Russian welterweight champion David Avanesyan (13-1-1, 6 KOs) will be a headliner), there are two former champions penciled for six-round tune-up fights.
One of them is ex-WBC super featherweight beltholder and 2004 Olympian for Germany Vitaliy Tajbert (23-2, 6 KOs) of Germany by way of Kazakhstan, who never called it a day. Much more surprising is the name of former IBF super flyweight titleholder Dmitry Kirillov (29-4-1, 9 KOs), who hasn’t fought for almost five years. BoxingScene contacted Kirillov to know more.
“I’m not sure about the 16th of May but I’m definitely coming back. I’m serious about it – I’m gonna be back to boxing pretty soon. As I’ve pointed out the scheduled date is a very big if but sooner than later my comeback will occur”, said Kirillov, now 34. “I’m not in sparring sessions yet and I’m improving my physical conditions right now. I’ll be ready pretty soon”.
Why has he chosen to mount a comeback. “It’s not about money. Not at all. Desire and hunger – that drives me through this adventure. It’s a soul of a fighter – I need to get back to the ring, I want to fight more”, commented Kirillov. “Surely, I’ll re-start from a couple of tune-up fights. I need to test my skills and my abilities, to shake off the rust. Also I need to let the world know of my comeback so that promoters will be interested in working with me. However, my ultimate goal is another shot at title. That’s what I’m gunning for”.
Dmitry competed both as a bantamweight and as a super flyweight before. “There’s no 115lb division in Europe, so I fought as a bantam on the continental scene, and then moved down in weight in order to create myself more chances in world title opportunities”, recalled the Russian stylist. “This time I’ll fight either as a 118lber of as a 122lber”.
Dmitry Kirillov started his pro career in 1998 at 19 years of age after having approximately 100 amateur fights. Wins over former WBO champion Rafael Torres and South African contender Dan Ward propelled him into European elite class. However, his shot at then-EBU champion Spend Abazi turned into a bitter disappointment, when the Russian “Baby” was held to a controversial loss via a very close unanimous decision.
Kirillov moved down in weight and after three warm-up bouts challenged a long-reigning WBC super-flyweight king Masamori Tokuyama only to drop another unanimous decision at the champion’s backyard.
Two and a half years after Kirillov got another shot at title, losing an even closer split decision to the IBF 115lb champion Luis Alberto Perez in what was thought by many to be a very questionable result. Finally, in October 2007 Dmitry had finally achieved his dream, when he became the first ever Russian boxer to get a major title on the home turf by narrowly outpointing fellow underachiever Jose Navarro to get the IBF belt, vacated by overweight Perez. From that point on it was a downslide for Kirillov. He earned only a draw in the initial defense of his belt against mediocre challenger Cecilio Santos and then was crushed in five by Vic Darchinyan in August 2008. He announced his retirement shortly after that.