By Alexey Sukachev, Vladimir Begin Jr. (Allboxing.ru) and Yuri Tarantin (Allboxing.ru)
On Saturday, March 26, Dmitry Pirog (18-0, 14 KOs), the WBO middleweight titleholder and the only active Russian fighter to hold a credible piece of world championship in any of seventeen weight classes, had a hard night and needed to dig a little deeper for a difficult victory over uncharacteristically durable and resistant Argentinean Javier Francisco Maciel (18-2, 12 KOs).
Several days after, Pirog was contacted by BoxingScene.com/Allboxing.ru and discussed about the fight and his future prospects, including a possible showdown with the world #1 ranked middleweight Sergio Gabriel Martinez. Here is what he had to say:
“Firstly, I want to thank Team Martinez for taking some time to watch my fight in Ekaterinburg thus proving indirectly that they consider my possible candidacy for their next bout, at least theoretically."
"For those who are disappointed with the fact that my win wasn’t as sparkling as it had been expected by many fans beforehand, I need to remind everyone that it takes two people to tango, not one. The fact that I became the WBO champion in Las Vegas, which is a Mecca of boxing, doesn’t automatically mean I’ll stop all my future opponents within four rounds. In fact we planned to fight more sound and, at the same time, more entertaining opponents than Maciel, who is very inconvenient and who can spoil a fight in his favor. Unfortunately, a chain of circumstances prevented an Ishe Smith fight and my collisions with other notable names, and Maciel was the best of the remaining crop. I could have chosen a lighter opponent and to knock him out cold but I chose to please my fans with some credible opposition."
"When I became the WBO champion of the world, my team applied for unifications with other champions in my weight class. If I remember it right, Team Martinez insisted that I’m not known in America and that HBO won’t spare any money for an unknown figure which makes the fight worthless. That was the main spoken reason for a failure in negotiations. Sergio ended up fighting Ukrainian Sergey Dzinziruk, who fought only once in two years, who fought only once in America before and who is a newcomer from a smaller weight class. So much for that TV interest, which however didn’t result in any cancellations."
"Though I’m not an American, “The Ring” readers assessed my abilities by putting me in the third position with “KO of the Year” nomination. I was approached by fans on streets and I gave them my autograph, which speaks for itself."
"Sergio Martinez is a magnificent fighter who is considered to be the best middleweight in the world, and rightfully so. That is exactly the reason why I say I want to meet him in the ring. You can become the best (or even simply better than you are) only by fighting the best. Is it too early to speak about this fight? Excellent, I’ll wait a bit. I’m not in hurry. Earlier I dreamt of becoming champion of the world and I achieved it. Now I want to unify belts in my weight class. And it’ll surely come my way. I’m not in a hurry. I’ll wait and gradually become the best middleweight in the world by making just a single step at the time”.
Shortly thereafter BoxingScene contacted Dmitry for some more comments regarding the last fight.
- Dmitry, are you satisfied with your Saturday performance?
- Definitely, I am. We have done everything we had planned before with my team. It wasn’t an entertaining fight and it wasn’t a walk in the park by any means but I’m content with that. Given some harsh circumstances – I had cervical pressure, and was down earlier with flu and had some other problems – I did everything that I could. I’m ok with this fight. Absolutely.
- Not everyone was satisfied with your performance though. How can you respond to your critics?
- I cannot knock my opponents out in every given fight. Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and even Sugar Ray Robinson – all of them (and many others) had their off-nights and not every one of their wins was spectacular. What some people don’t realize is how good Javier Maciel is in fact. He is a strong fighter, a good boxer, who I want to give props to for this fight. He came in as an underdog but didn’t surrender and fought to the end. He gave me a good fight. Certainly, he wasn’t particularly clean and he sometimes punched me behind the back of my head and he also delivered several low blows but that is it. He had some technical flaws and showed them. But he wasn’t fighting intentionally dirty. He will surely be back for some more.
- Maciel is a highly awkward, unorthodox fighter. Was it the right choice to use the same tools you have used in Jacobs fight? Maybe it would have been better to box a bit more orthodox against him, wouldn’t it?
- I assume we applied the best possible tactics. My team did good work, and Maciel didn’t surprised us with anything. I think a chosen way of fighting was optimal against this particular opponent. Make no mistake though. This Argentinean isn’t the best choice for anyone. He knows how to make you look bad in the ring.
- You were hit flush in the eighth and rocked a bit. It looked like you tried to find safety in clinches. Isn’t it too much for a “simple title defense”?
- We are talking boxing, man. Boxing isn’t choreography. You do get hit here. Hit really bad. That is what boxing is about.
- In the tenth round referee Benji Estevez deducted a point from you for a shoulder push. Was it an honest decision by the referee?
- It was his right to do so. Personally, I view it the other way. Maciel got dangerously close to me and he should have been put away not to make any headbutts. That’s why I have used my shoulder.
- Can you compare Maciel to Jacobs in any way?
- No, I cannot do so. They couldn’t be compared just because they are different fighters. You know an old proverb. If boxer A beat boxer B and boxer B beat boxer C, that doesn’t mean boxer A will beat boxer C. He can easily lose to him.
- What is next for you?
- I’m coming back in a short time. I haven’t had the opportunity to rest and I’ll soon be back to the gym. I’m looking for some big fights in America. And I’m ready for them!