Ural Boxing Update: Shafikov, Novikov, Kozaev and More
By Alexey Sukachev
Having been formed just recently – it celebrated its fifth anniversary not that long ago – Ural Boxing Promotions, guided by Evgueny Vainstein and Alexey Vasiliev, has quickly developed into one of the best Russian boxing companies. The last year was specifically successful for the UBP. None of their protégés lost in the ring; all of them made significant steps up in the ranks; a new and very sound name has been added to the ledger. With a new year just kicking off, UBP seems to be ready to reach for the next heights of promotional excellence and to establish itself as one of the biggest brands in Eastern Europe. BoxingScene sat down with UBP’s matchmaker Alexey Vasiliev to speak briefly about the company’s next goals and a not-so-distant future.
- Alexey, Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to You. What’s going on lately?
- Thanks, Alexey. Same to You. We have finished 2012 really strong. We staged numerous cards in Russia and some – in the States. We have signed Denis Shafikov to a promotional contract. Our top pupils Anton Novikov and Aslanbek Kozaev scored valuable victories, while young gun Kostya Ponomarev continued his transformation into a force to be reckoned with. Now it’s time to improve even faster in 2013.
- What is on the list?
- Right now nothing is set for sure. We haven’t solidified our scheduled yet, but we are going to do it pretty soon. We have just some clues for you about our upcoming future. We are going to arrange our annual promotion “Hail Russia 3!” in Chelyabinsk, somewhere in late April. We are also planning a huge event in Southern Ossetia in June. It’ll be a real big promotion, which is explainable since a few of our stars are of Ossetian origin.
- Have you really signed a deal with world-class junior welterweight Denis Shafikov (31-0-1, 17 KOs)?
- Indeed, we have. Shafikov signed a three-year long promotional agreement with Ural Boxing Promotions.
- What is next for him?
- Shafikov is heading to Los Angeles soon in order to set up his camp in the Wild Card Gym under a guidance of Freddie Roach. We hope for a rapid development of this rising star. Denis is ranked #2 by the IBF and #3 by the WBC at 140 lbs but competing at 135 lbs can be more fruitful for him, I think. So we are going down in weight not to give our opponents any advantages, since Shafikov’s punches will be even more punishing at a lower division. With this being said, we shall not rule out a title clash at light welterweight either. If the opportunity looms we shall jump at it; we are looking for it as we talk – Denis is ranked high so chances exist we shall find one pretty soon.
- Anton Novikov (26-0, 10 KOs) is undefeated and ranked #2 by the WBC at welterweight. What is next for him?
- The Pick Hammer will strike soon! He is coming off a huge, lopsided win over dangerous upset artist Karlo Tabaghua for the WBC Silver title but we aren’t stopping at this point. No way! Both him and another undefeated prodigy Aslanbek Kozaev (23-0-1, 7 KOs), our EBU-EE champion, who had big wins over Sasha Yengoyan (21-0-1), Andrey Abramenko (17-1-2) and Bekzod Nabiyev (21-2-1) in 2012, will train under the tutelage of Eric Brown also in Los Angeles. They can head overseas in late January.
- Konstantin Ponomarev (18-0, 9 KOs) is one of the youngest (just 20) of your fighters. Tell us more about his future.
- Kostya was very active in 2012 (going 6-0 with 4 KOs). Now we are planning to hone his skills during the training camp. We shall set one in Mexico City. There’s a preliminary agreement with Nacho Beristain. We hope this great coach will work with Kostya, whose great talent was showcased in Mexico during WBC convention (Ponomarev stopped Wily Medina within five rounds).
- Cruiserweight Murat Gassiev (8-0, 4 KOs) started his pro career at 17. He is 19 now. What is next for him?
- Murat is coming back to the ring in Nizhnevartovsk on February 23. An opponent is still unknown. And in summer we are targeting the WBC Youth belt for him.