LOS ANGELES – Former world heavyweight champion and 1996 Bellarusian Olympian, Sergei “The White Wolf” Liakhovich, has some unfinished boxing business to take care of starting April 9, when the consummate boxer-puncher returns to the ring for the first time in nearly a year.
The 34-year-old Liakhovich (25-3, 16 KOs), rated No. 13 by the WBC, takes on Johnnie White (22-4, 18 KOs) in the 10 round co-feature on Main Events’ pay-per-view-card, headlined by Tomas Adamek versus Kevin McBride, at Prudential Center in Neward, New Jersey.
Liakhovich had been on his former promoter’s shelf for the past 3 ½ years, fighting only three times during that period, including the last on May 22, 2010. “It was very frustrating,” Sergei explained his inactivity. “I tried everything but my promoter didn’t get me fights. My new advisor, Tony Cardinale, did an awesome job getting me out of that contract. I then signed a promotional contract with Main Events because I saw what they’ve done with Adamek and other fighters.”
Back in 2006, Liahkovich was on top of the boxing world having won a unanimous decision (117-110, 115-113, 115-112) against Lamont Brewster for the WBO crown and sporting a 23-1(13 KOs) pro record, including notable wins against world title contender Dominick Guinn and previously undefeated Friday Ahunanya.
In his first world title defense, however, Liakhvich lost his belt to Shannon Briggs by way of a 12th round technical knockout with only one second remaining in the fight, in which Sergei led in scoring 106-103, 106-103 and 105-104.
“After that fight he was put on a deep freeze shelf by his promoter,” noted Cardinale, a Boston-based attorney who guided 2-time WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz to 12 world title fights. “He may as well have been sent to Siberia because he’s had only three fights since his Briggs defense in 2006. One was a tough fight against former world champion Nicolai Valuev (in a WBA title eliminator), in which Sergei fought hurt, but he’s had two stunning knockouts since that bout (Evans Quinn and Jeremy Bates). Main Events has a current specialty in resurrecting careers of former champions. We saw what Kathy (Duva) did with Adamek and Zab (Judah).I believe that they’re about to have another champion in Sergei. What I like most about Main Events is how fair and capable they are. I can truly say that they under-sell and over-produce, something extremely rare in this business.”
“We need to keep Sergei active. He’ll fight April 9th and again in July and September, after which we hope to get him in a world title shot. Sergei is 6-4, 240 pounds and he can box and bang, too. He has great boxing skills he learned from his Russian background when they started teaching fundamentals to kids. He’s tall, smart and has fast hands. His fight against Brewster was incredible. He had to get up off the mat to win and he was doing that to Briggs when he got caught at the end. Sergei Liakhovich has everything it takes to challenge and beat the Klitschkos.”
The new and improved Liakhovich has top-notch training under the combined auspices of Tommy Brooks and Kenny Weldon, who have handled countless world champions between them. “I’m very comfortable with my new team, especially Main Events for what it does with its fighters,” Sergei commented. “Tony’s already proven to be a great advisor and he’s a great man, too. Tommy and Kenny are two of the best trainers in the world and they’re both working together with me. I’ve been with Tommy and Kenny worked with me five years, including when I won the world title.
“I took my next fight against White because everybody knows I don’t want easy fights. He has good power. He’s a tough guy who is capable of taking you out in a second. This is the opponent I want in the ring to prove to myself and everybody else that Sergei is here and will win the world title again. That’s what this is all about – fighting again for the world title!”
Two other important reasons Sergei has a new attitude in the ring is his wife, Irina, and their first child, 3-month old son Nazar. “I’m the happiest dad in the world,” Liakhovich concluded. “Right now, I have so much to fight for.
“I will show people by best. I don’t want them to judge me on my fights against Briggs and Valuev. I’m happy to know that fight fans in North America will finally get an opportunity to watch me fight again. My last two fights were great wins by stoppage, but both were overseas and nobody saw it. People haven’t seen the best of me but they’ll see the best and what I’m capable to do when I return April 9th. I’ve very excited about getting back in the ring. I’ve been in Los Angeles at training camp with Tommy and Kenny. Everything has gone very well and I’ve had some good sparring. I’m very happy.”