By Alexey Sukachev
Inside the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia, the post fight press conference for "Not a Step Back" took place, with all of the main personalities involved - including James Toney, Denis Lebedev, trainer Kostya Tszyu, promoter Vladimir Hryunov and several other key figures. On Friday night, Denis Lebedev dominated former three division champion James "Lights Out" Toney over twelve one-sided rounds to capture the interim-WBA cruiserweight crown.
Hryunov: “We have seen a great match-up between two legendary personalities – Denis Lebedev and James Toney. It was a major step forward in the popularization of the Sweet Science in Russia and the neighboring countries, and it was really a huge event. I want to thank James Toney for his courage and bravery. As for Denis, he confirmed once again his elite status among the cruiserweights of this era”
About Lebedev’s future: “We were ready to go after Guillermo Jones but this guy keeps fighting once a year or so. I wonder why he hasn’t been stripped yet for his inactivity. Now, there are a handful of possibilities for Denis, but our fight has just been finished and it’s too early to discuss other options. But one of the most probable opportunities is a fight with Antonio Tarver in England. Our promoter Frank Warren is positively interested in this fight, and we are ready to fight Antonio next”.
Lebedev: “I want to thank everybody for their support. Despite some claims about the easiness of this fight, it was a hard battle for me. James Toney, whose courage can hardly be overestimated, tried to set up some traps. He tried to invite me in and to punish me in close quarters, with his stinging counters. I’m glad I was able to avoid these traps and to find a road to the victory”.
Toney: “Denis Lebedev is a great fighter. But he never hurt me. Injury is what hurt me more than anything else. I strained my knee in the second round and this affected my performance tonight. I had no excuses though – it was an honest victory. I also want to thank Agalarov Estate for its tremendous support and hospitality”.
About Denis Lebedev’s next fight: “I wish Denis would take on Marco Huck next. If not, it will be interesting to see him against the WBC champion. As for Antonio Tarver, I’m positively sure that Lebedev would knock him out”.
About his own future: “James Toney ain’t finished yet. I’ll be back when I’m healed. I have lots of things to do and a lot of people on my wish-list”
About what he kept saying to Denis during the fight: “Ahmm, hello, Denis. Have a nice day!” (smiles)
About who is a better fighter – Lebedev or Jirov: “They are both rather tough but Denis has faster hands to go with”.