By Alexey Sukachev
The 25th of September will be marked with red as a special date in the history of Russian prizefighting. For the first time in over twenty years, two pugilists from the biggest country in the world will collide with each other in first ever all-Russian title match-up, when WBO middleweight champion Dmitry Pirog (18-0, 14 KOs) who puts his belt at risk against freely-swinging St. Petersburg-based brawler Gennady Martirosyan (22-2, 11 KOs), who is ranked #1 by the WBO and who is also Pirog’s mandatory challenger.
Both boxers and their teams gathered together at a press conference to address the Russian media at the VGTRK press-centre in Moscow, Russia. Aside from Pirog and Martirosyan, others present included promoter Kirill Pchelnikov, Pirog’s trainer Victor Petrochenko, Martirosyan’s coach Vladimir Vidov and his promoter Alexander Yagupov, as well as PBFR general secretary Igor Mazurov, who will act as a supervisor for the title fight. Interestingly, despite representing the same country for the last few years, both fighters have only spoken during the ritual posing for photographs.
Dmitry Pirog: “I think this fight will be a true gift for the fans, it will surely be a fan-friendly fight between two skilled professionals with a sheer desire to win the title. It will also be a specific night for Russian boxing – the first ever clash between two Russian fighters for a major title. This means that the title will stay in Russia regardless of the fight's outcome, which is certainly good. I’m sure there will be no compromises, and two battling spirits will meet together to create some high drama for the fans. I just hope Gennady is ready to deliver as well.
I’m feeling a steadily increasing interest in Russian boxing in my Homeland, especially from the TV suites. I’m feeling it. That’s why we are here despite another offer to fight in New York. I’m glad we are here, in Russia. We were unable to secure a soft spot with one of top American cable channels. Speaking about Krasnodar, it’s just near my hometown so local fans are sure to be pleased. I want to thank everybody who gave me a hand in the process of bringing all of the points together, and specifically Alexander Tkachev, Krasnodar governor.
I have been working with several sparring partners, including rough-and-tough super middleweight Maxim Vlasov, who has helped me alot, as he always does. My chief sparring partners, however, are fairly unknown guys from abroad. They aren’t very famous but they are rather talented
Everybody has his weaknesses and his strengths. I know my weaknesses pretty well and so does Gennady, and he certainly knows something about my blemishes (smiles). As for my upcoming opponent, Gennady has impressive hand speed, and his feet are good too. However by being fast he put his legs in such a position, where it’s very hard for him to land one big punch, which certainly isn’t good at all. With his powerful build he can bang twice as hard. However, he has very good reflexes, not exceptional but very good.
I’m not a star by any means. I don’t used to a stellar behavior. That’s just not in my blood at all. I respect all of my opponents, regardless of their performances, their ambitions and their pre-fight aggressiveness – Daniel Jacobs, Javier Maciel, Kofi Jantuah – they are all the same for me: good fighters, nice persons whom I respect much but only outside the ring”.
Gennady Martirosyan: “The squared circle will show who is the better fighter between us. I’m ready to fight and I’m ready to take the belt from Dmitry’s hands. I was preparing to the fight alongside former world champion Roman Karmazin and light heavyweight Konstantin Piternov, who both offered me some priceless assistance. I want to thank both of them, and I want to wish Roman the best luck in his bout against Osumana Adamu in the States.
I saw lots of tapes of Pirog, so I’m ready to give him some hard moments. I respect Dmitry as an excellent sportsman, as a gentleman and as a quality boxer, a nice technician with extended amateur background, but I’m here to get what is rightfully mine. I’m sure I can get the better of Pirog”.
Victor Petrochenko: “The camp was good. It wasn’t exceptional and it was rather short but it was good. There were some amateurs in the camp, short but rugged and powerful, just like Martirosyan. Vlasov’s aid was also very useful. Dmitry is slightly changing to the best. He moves better, he feels his opponent out better, and his defensive skills are considerably better too”.
Alexander Yagupov: “The best man will win on Sunday night, and his name is Gennady. We shall come out as winners”.
An entire video of the presser (in Russian) can be seen here (by Championt.com):
Referee for the fight will be Victor Panin (Russia), The judges are Alexander Kalinkin (Russia), Manfred Kuechler (Germany) and Zoltan Enyedi (Hungary).
The main event will crown a small but a nice-packed little card, which is penciled to take place at Olympus sports arena in Krasnodar, the biggest city of Southern Russia.
In a co-main event, former amateur star “King” Khabib Allakhverdiev (14-0, 6 KOs), 28, will face by far the sternest test in his young career against the former lightweight champion of the world Nate “The Galaxxy Warrior” Campbell (34-8-1, 25 KOs).
Campbell, 39, is coming off a unanimous decision over another local fighter Sherzod Nazarov in May. “Nate’s relish for his fee was so great that Khabib chose to fight Campbell for free just to pass an in-ring school exam, which will surely be offered to him by the veteran. Khabib’s only motivation will be a victory," commented Allakhverdiev’s manager Yuri Fedorov.
In another attraction, one of the best Russian super middleweights Maxim Vlasov (20-1, 10 KOs) will continue to erase the bad memories of his February loss to Isaac Chilemba by taking on another (relatively) soft touch in inexperienced Gasan Gasanov (3-0, 3 KOs).
“I tried to get a fight with Roman Shkarupa but it fell through due to financial contradictions. Then I asked my promoter Kirill Pchelnikov to get me a fight against Roman Simakov but also to no effect. Finally, Konstantin Piternov withdrew from the fight so I’m now limited to Gasan Gasanov as an opponent," commented Vlasov.
Also, hard-hitting super featherweight Fedor Papazov (7-0, 5 KOs) battles Jahongir Abdullaev (18-5, 6 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
The show will be broadcasted live by Russia 2 channel (starts at 09:50 PM LT).