by Chris Errington
Sometimes the road to success runs far and wide. Ask Timur ‘Here Comes Trouble’ Shailezov. With the odds stacked against him, crowds baying for his blood, and geography rarely in his corner, the fearless flyweight fighter from Kyrgyzstan is the classic example of a boxer who’s taken the hard route to success. Born and raised in a country with scant pro-boxing tradition, Timur 16-6-1 (3 KO’s) broke the mould and took various titles back to his hometown of Bishkek.
A former holder of the Russian Bantamweight Title, the NABA Bantamweight Title, the NABA Super-Flyweight Title, and the WBA Intercontinental Super-Flyweight Title, he’s no stranger to victory… But there are also painful defeats. On December 11th he lost a WBC Asia Council continental title fight against fast-rising Rex ‘Wonderkid’ Tso. Visa problems kept him the wrong side of customs until hours before the weigh-in…Hardly ideal preparation on the back of a twenty four hour journey. Victim of a late stoppage, he gave his all in a fight that could’ve gone either way. The proud warrior was kind enough to speak to me about this latest setback, his career so far and what he has in store for 2013.
CE: “Hi Timur. First let me say it was a privilege to watch you fight in Hong Kong. After travelling thousands of miles I wasn’t disappointed. The intensity of the fight was breathtaking… the tenacity on your part, truly awesome. I’ve seen major title fights fought with less conviction and it’s a shame somebody had to lose. You said after the fight that perhaps you’d underestimated Rex. I did too, and was surprised he stayed upright after some of the shots you landed. You didn’t want to stop after the tenth. The fight was still in the balance and I could see you wanted to go twelve. Did your corner pull you out or was it the referee’s decision? Do you think you still could’ve won the fight?”
TS: “I’m really glad to know that people liked my fight with Rex. If people want us to fight again then why not? I think next time it’ll be much more interesting. And yeah…it’s true that I underestimated my opponent. Usually when I catch someone with big punches they don’t want to come forward anymore. I was surprised when Rex kept coming. The reason I had to stop was that my right eye was almost closing and I couldn’t see. I was afraid I might miss a big punch and after all, to be realistic, there was only one way to win that bout. I needed to knock him out. With the condition I was in it would’ve been a miracle.”
CE: “You’ve had some tough battles but at only thirty two years of age you’ve still time to do big things. Personally I’d love the opportunity to see you fight again. Do you intend to push for another title in 2013?”
TS: “To be honest I started training again just after I arrived home from Hong Kong and I was saying to myself again and again that I’ll get tougher and stronger. I’m open to any offers in the super-flyweight division. Anytime, anywhere and with anyone! I can’t wait for my next challenge.”
CE: “The Road to Glory was a huge event and was televised worldwide. Potentially tens of thousands saw you fight and are now aware of who you are, your all-action style and your unquestionable heart. Despite the result you gave the fans in the arena great value for money and the armchair fans at home a lot to talk about. Rather than hurting your career December 11th could turn into a huge boost. Do you intend to use this exposure to seek fights on new ground, perhaps in the UK, Australia or the USA?”
TS: You know, it’s a shame that my bout was telecast worldwide and yet in my hometown, Bishkek, local media knew nothing about this event. Most people still know nothing about it. I wish I could’ve beaten Rex so I could’ve given a press conference for my countrymen. As for my intention to fight in the UK, Australia or the USA, I would love to fight in any of those countries. Preferably in the US… I always wanted a fight in Vegas. Who knows, maybe now I’ll have a chance.”
CE: “Could you tell us about how you got into the sport? Kyrgyzstan has a proud amateur boxing tradition but professionally major players have been few and far between. Kid Diamond was a huge talent… forging a successful career in America, earning a draw with a prime Joel Casamayor and giving Nate Campbell all he could handle. Orzubek Nazarov went further, holding the WBA World Lightweight Title between 1993 and 1998 and beating quality operators like Leavander Johnson and Joey Gamache along the way. Did you look up to these guys? If I’m not mistaken you didn’t start boxing professionally until 2006, so in this sense you were quite a late starter. What was your life like before boxing and at what point did you decide to pour your talents into a career as a prizefighter?”
TS: “All my three brothers used to be boxers and I was taken by my elder brother to watch an amateur competition. Right there I fell in love with the sport. I was ten at the time. Since then it has become my way of life. I had to quit amateur in 1998 and started again in 2002 but unfortunately I failed to qualify for the Athens games (2004 Olympics). Then in 2004 I had a break and after one year I returned wanting to continue as an amateur, but no-one was interested, thinking I had nothing left. Even my own coach had lost faith in me.
Then in 2006 I turned pro. I had no-one to help and started working with people who were new in the business, so since then I was kinda doing self-training. And now as time is showing I should’ve started with experienced people, because my biggest mistake was that I should’ve started as a flyweight and gradually moved up the divisions.”
“I respect Kid Diamond. Sometimes I ask him for recommendations in training and just communicate with him as a friend. As for Nazarov, actually I grew up in his gym and his coach was also my coach too. And training at his gym, I always wanted to fight like him… and I do regret I’m not as good as them.”
CE: “You’ve fought some quality opposition in the past. You beat Leon Moore of Guyana to win the NABA Bantamweight Title. He hasn’t lost in the five years since you beat him. You bested Julio David Roque Ler of Argentina for the WBA Intercontinental Super-Flyweight title. Ricardo Nunez of Panama is top quality, as is Daniel Diaz of Nicaragua. Many of your opponents are or have been world-rated. You went toe-to toe with all of them. Who was your best opponent? And why?”
TS: “My toughest opponents were Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov from Kazakhstan and Leon ‘Hurry Up’ Moore from Guyana. The first guy was from a higher division and once dropped Manny Pacquiao. I don’t know how but I coped with him in spite of the risk of being knocked out, and I beat him. And the second guy, Leon Moore, was dangerous. After the first round I understood why his nickname was ‘Hurry Up’. While I was trying to catch him he gave me fast and solid 3-4-5 punches, but fortunately in the third round I dropped him with my left hook and after that punch he slowed down. I followed my plan and beat him too.”
CE: “Could you describe your experiences fighting in Central America? Describe your treatment by fans, the media and the people in general. Having fought twice in Nicaragua and once in Panama, was this a whole different experience to fighting at home? Culturally, religiously and climate-wise Kyrgyzstan and the Central American nations you’ve fought in share little common ground. The time difference is huge. Did the adjustment needed to fight in such a different environment make the bouts harder than they would otherwise have been?”
TS: “Honestly speaking, I didn’t like fighting there. Firstly, because of the hot and humid weather… and the time difference was almost killing me. In my first two bouts over there I arrived two and three days before the bout. All my body was sleeping and didn’t want to listen to me when I was fighting. That’s why last time I went to Nicaragua I went there a month before, which was useful.
I was breathing ok and felt light. I liked the people’s attitude. They were kind and friendly like in my country. The people there love boxing. They know all boxers and can’t wait for the next show… and their fight cards are full of tough fighters who give a great performance, not like in my home city. Their press conferences are another show and are interesting to watch. I thought at the time, that’s how to make a show. That side of it was a good experience, I should say.”
CE: “Before we finish Timur… What was the best victory of your career? Was there one night where you had to dig deeper than ever before? … Any one night that meant more to you than all the rest? For whatever reasons, which of your triumphs stays closest to your heart and why? It doesn’t have to be a title fight. I’m just curious… If you were to hang up your gloves today, which of your past triumphs would mean the most to you?”
TS: “My best victory was a victory on my amateur record when I beat two tough guys in one competition, who had actually beaten me before. I beat them both in a row, one after the other. That was something. The other fight I think of all the time is a bout against Mongolian fighter Badar Uugan Enkhbat at a qualification match for the Athens games. I lost the bout because of a stupid score system at that time in amateur boxing. He later became silver medalist at the World Championships in Chicago, then a gold medalist at the Olympic Games in Beijing. I wish I could turn back time so I could change that.”
“As for triumphs, I don’t count any of my wins as special and never separate them. Can you imagine?... I never even had a party after any of my successes in boxing. My family and I just got used to it because I’ve been doing boxing for a long time and many times I had wins, so it has become like a usual thing for us. Well… if I win a world title I think I’ll have a big party on my street!”
CE: “Is there anything else you’d like to say Timur? Have you any messages for our readers or for your fans out there?”
TS: “Yes. I would like to use this opportunity to say I would like to work with a good experienced promoter. I hope it’s not too late yet. I always had a huge will to fight and to grow and I still feel the same way. Boxing has always been my passion… it’s what makes my life interesting and I hope I’ll have many more chances to show my skills. In the fight in Hong Kong I showed only a little part of what I can do.”
“Thanks to all the guys who were helping me prepare for my fight in Hong Kong and special thanks to my coach from Moscow, Aibek Tjubeev. He’s not a boxing coach really, but he gave me good training too. I’m grateful to my manager Matt Clark, who arranged this match for me. I hope our future partnership will bring much more. Thanks to all the people who were supporting me and to all the rest who were on my side… And thanks to you as well for showing interest in me. I’ll give my best and everything I can in my next bouts, wherever they’ll be, against anyone!”