By Andrew Paterson
Dejan Zlaticanin, 20-0 (13), is a 30 year lightweight fighter hailing from the Balkan nation of Montenegro. To many fight fans he was widely unknown until he arrived in Scotland and scored one of the biggest upset wins in 2014 by beating former two-time WBO world titlist Ricky Burns. Dejan took the time to speak to Boxingscene.com.
How did you become interested and get started in boxing?
When I was a kid my father used to tell me stories, he was a boxer as well, and would speak about Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. I’ve been involved in boxing since I was 13 years old and I always showed that I have the talent for a fight.
How did your amateur career go?
My amateur career was pretty good, I was always in the national team. I was picked for Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro and then Montenegro. Everyone was telling me that my style was more suited to the professional ranks because of my style and my power.
Who were your favourite fighters?
Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali.
How difficult was it growing up in the mid-1990s with the Balkans War raging in neighbouring countries?
It was very difficult for my parents but for my brothers and I we were a little too young to remember much.
What is the current state of boxing in Montenegro? Who are the main players/promoters etc?
Fighters from this country have had some good results, but it is not a developed country in terms of professional boxing. Although I’ve had some good results and I’m ranked in the top 10 with most organisations we still don’t get a lot of support, it’s funny but we don’t have promoters at all.
You were widely unknown until after the Burns fight did that take pressure off you heading into the fight?
Yes, I’m pretty unknown although I beat Petr Petrov (ranked in the top 10 with the WBA & WBO and former world title challenger) by unanimous decision, when I entered the ring against Burns I wanted to hurt and beat him and there was no pressure on me whatsoever.
What did you find difficult and, if any, what did you find easy against Burns?
Burns is a great fighter, it wasn’t easy to force my fighting style upon him but I managed it.
When you dropped Burns in the first round did you think you could stop him considering Burns’ recent jaw injury?
No I didn’t think of the jaw injury, I just continued to fight in my own style but he surprised me how he recovered after a severe knockdown.
It was the first time you had fought outside the Balkan region, what was it like getting your hand raised that night in Glasgow?
It was a great feeling! It was a full arena and I beat their [Scotland] best fighter. The crowd in Glasgow was great, he had a good support and in the end I was the better man on the night.
On a whole how has 2014 been for you professionally and personally and what is your plans heading into 2015?
2014 has been great for me. I’ve become a father and I have had the best win of my career to date against Ricky Burns. In 2015 I hope I well get to fight for the WBC title.
Out of the four main World title bodies you have two top 10 rankings that is with the WBC and WBO; Figueroa is injured, Linares faces Prieto for the WBC title, Mitchell faces Estrada and Lundy has went up to 140lbs, is your team looking at facing maybe the likes of Ao or Marsili to push you further up the rankings or would you go down another route?
I’m ranked seventh with the WBC and eighth with the WBO. I know that my team and I want to fight with every boxer in the lightweight division!
Other champions at lightweight, WBA champion Richar Abril?
Abril is a very good boxer and is able to adjust his style in the ring.
IBF champion Mickey Bey?
Bey surprised me with his win over Vazquez, but I don’t think he will be champion for long.
What did you think of the Crawford-Beltran fight?
Crawford showed he is the best boxer in the lightweight division and he was very dominant against Gamboa and Beltran and did very well against Burns. I think he will be a big problem at 140lbs.
For those that haven’t seen you fight, what is your biggest asset?
A good defence and a strong punch.
Dejan, this is the last question, is there anything else in closing you would like to add?
DZ – Thank you for supporting me and I want to greet all boxing fans and my supporters.