Wilkes-Barre, PA: Nadjib Mohammedi (35-3, 20 KOs) grew up in the ghettos of France surrounded by mobsters, fighting to survive and now he is in the United States, for the first time in his life, fighting for the chance to face Bernard Hopkins for the IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship. At today's fighter meetings with NBCSN Fight Night Mohammedi provided a little more insight into his background and his career leading up to tomorrow's fight.
Standing in Mohammedi's way is no small opponent, Anatoliy "The Gladiator" Dudchenko (18-2, 20 KOs). Dudchenko is 6'3" and towers over Mohammedi at 5'11". Mohammedi does not seem bothered by the size difference between him and his Ukrainian opponent. Mohammedi said, "Taller is not important for me. I handle every fighter. I am used to it. I am from the ghetto. We have fight to survive where I come from."
Nadjib began fighting in his teens. He turned pro just following his 20th birthday because he was dissatisfied with the lack of adequate amateur competition in France. He said, "I started fighting at 16. I quickly became a pro because there were no good amateurs in France. There was really nobody to fight. I was not interested in the national team. I did not like the mentality of the national team. I liked to be on my own and I wanted to be a pro."
The 29 year old from Gardanne, Bouches-du-Rhône, France would reveal nothing about his game plan for Dudchenko, "I won't give my game plan. I know what I need to do. It will be a surprise tomorrow in the ring. My game plan: Only one trajectory; the victory." However, he did reveal a little about his training camp, "I trained Marseille, Paris and the mountains for this fight. I went to Paris for two weeks to work for my speed and adjust part of my training."
The Mohammedi team arrived from France on Monday but Nadjib is confident the time change and new surroundings will not be a problem for him, "I am French. There was no problem with the time difference. I have a fast life so it was no problem for me. I don't have a secret, it is in my nature."
According to his promoter, Christel Aujoux, "When we were offered this fight Nadjib was in a position to fight for the European title. We relinquished that fight to go for the #1 position in the IBF instead because Nadjib has the skills to win this fight and to win a world title. He is faster, younger and more charismatic. He has a very cohesive team and he is going to win tomorrow night."