By Alexey Sukachev and Grigoriy Stangrit
Unlike other states, Russia is a country for old men. A week and two days after 41-year old WBA cruiserweight champion “in recess” Guillermo Jones used some time engineering to crack much younger Denis Lebedev in a FOTY candidate, another veteran of the ring – The Big “O" Oleg Maskaev (37-7, 28 KOs) – will continue his return to the fight game. Maskaev, 44 and a former WBC heavyweight titlist, is set to fight rapidly fading American Jason Gavern (21-14-4, 10 KOs), 8 years his younger, who has lost his last six in a row. The scheduled ten-rounder will be held on May 26 at Mordovia Sports Complex in Saransk, Russia. Gavern will arrive in Russia tomorrow. Waiting for his opponent Maskaev was contacted by the Allboxing’s Grigory Stangrit.
- It’s your bout next but we cannot start from anything other than a magic fight last Friday between Denis Lebedev and Guillermo Jones. What can you say us about this fight?
- Denis had a chance to take over Jones. Unfortunately, there was that horrible cut at the right side of his face. And Guillermo did anything he could to make matters worse – he surely had every right to do so. But Denis was heroic. He knew how heavy the press above him was – and he didn’t wilt. He was fighting under harsh circumstances, and he couldn’t make any more than he had made. Had it been a non-title affair, he would have been well advised to quit but it was a title fight, and he fought almost to the end. Had it been in Germany, he would have been stopped long ago. I think Denis would have won had not it been about such horrible cuts and swells.
- How is your training?
- Truly good. The last week was a bit hard for me due to the relocation. This one is completely different. I’m nearing my best shape. I’m already in sparring sessions with Vladimir Goncharov, our young heavyweight, who has just worked out for more than 60 rounds with Lebedev.
- What is your body telling you?
- I’m always in shape but there is no time handicap. I would have been glad to obtain more time reserves. I was involved in resolving some crucial details – who will be the opp, where the fight will take place etc. All of this affected my training. But right now I’m okay, I think I shall overtake it.
- At this stage of one’s career, which you are at, it’s reasonable to think about calling it a day. How long will you compete as a prizefighter from this point?
- This remains to be seen. As soon as my body is ready and tells me it’s in okay shape I’ll go on with fighting. If I feel my body isn’t responding well under the load, I’ll say enough is enough and I’ll think carefully about a decision. Right now, my body tells me to continue fighting.
The main event of the night will be supported by a quality undercard, which will see six pairs of prizefighters in non-title and minor title contests.
In a penultimate fight of the night, WBC Baltic middleweight champion Andrey Meryasev (13-0, 11 KOs) is set to risk his title against Mexican challenger Alvaro Gaona (12-2, 7 KOs).
There will be four eight-rounder in the card. Undefeated welterweight Aslanbek Kozaev (23-0-1, 10 KOs) looks to power up his engine after a disappointing draw against David Avanesyan in his latest outing by fighting durable Belarussian Evgueny Kruglik (11-17-3, 3 KOs). Fedor “Mr. Knockout” Papazov (10-0, 7 KOs) will look to extend his series of victories against Ukrainian Artiom Ayvazidi (10-4, 5 KOs), who is just 0-4 in his last four fights but has a controversial split decision loss Sergey Fedchenko in an even bout. Super bantamweight Vladimir Tikhonov (8-0, 4 KOs) battles Mexican import Kose Cen Torres (11-3, 1 KO), while Aik Shakhnazarian (5-0, 1 KO) will be tested by lightweight Jahongir Mamadjanov (7-4, 1 KO) of Uzbekistan. Finally, cruiserweight Murat Gassiev (10-0, 6 KOs) will try to prove his skills against another Uzbek Sherzod Mamadjanov (8-17, 3 KOs) – over six.
The entire show will be co-promoted by Evgueny Vainstein, Igor Shafer and Kirill Pchelnikov.