By Alexey Sukachev
Following some recent reports about a tournament, proposed by the International Boxing Federation in the middleweight division, BoxingScene got on phone with former IBF light middleweight champion Roman Karmazin (40-4-2, 26 KOs), who reportedly announced his retirement from boxing several months ago but is still being mentioned as a vital part of the IBF elimination tourney.
Aside from IBF #8 Karmazin, a possible roster of the participants include: #3 and former IBF champion Sebastian Sylvester (34-4-1, 16 KOs), #4 and former two-time WBA super middleweight titlist Anthony Mundine (42-4, 25 KOs), #5 and former undisputed welterweight beltholder Cory Spinks (37-6, 11 KOs), #7 Peter Manfredo Jr. (37-6, 20 KOs), #10 Sam Soliman (39-11, 17 KOs) and #11 Osumana Adama (19-2, 14 KOs) of Ghana. IBF #6 Darren Barker is scheduled to fight middleweight stalwart Sergio Gabriel Martinez next, while #9 Benjamin Simon is reportedly recovering after an injury. The latest mentioned scheme of the elimination includes two semifinals: Sylvester vs. Soliman and Karmazin vs. Adama. The winner of the final will face current IBF middleweight king Daniel Geale (24-1, 15 KOs).
- Roman, what is the latest and greatest?
- Hi, Alexey. I'm seriously considering a comeback from retirement pretty soon. Nothing is solid yet, but if the money is right, I’ll try to wrestle the title back once again. Right now I have an offer on the table from the International Boxing Federation to take part in the elimination [tournament] to fight the newly crowned champion. I’m not satisfied with his financial conditions though but we are in negotiations, and the possibility exists that I’ll be back for more.
- You publicly announced your retirement. At least, I saw and I read such claims from you the last year. How were you able to preserve a ranked position in the IBF ratings this way?
- Indeed, I signaled that I was ready to hang’em up. But my promoter Steven Bash convinced me to wait a bit with a formal announcement. He asked if I was finally done with the sport or not and I answered that if I had a lucrative offer I would seriously think about a possible continuation. So we decided not to write any official letters to the IBF and to wait a bit. That is why I’m still ranked there.
- You said many times you would try to work as a coach in the boxing afterlife or you would open your own training facility. Why haven’t you stayed in retirement? Did it all go wrong?
- I was rather unrealistic about my future after boxing and, first of all, I was unrealistic about the way my own Motherhood would treat me after I would call it a day. I thought my fame and my past would give me preferences but the truth was much bitter.
Actually, I feel that the country and the community don’t need me much. I tried to find a job but offers were far from being satisfactory. Actually, I work as a trainer now and I even get some money but I can’t say it’s really enough to make ends meet. Maybe I’ll earn more when I open my own gym in autumn but nevertheless it’s damn hard to make a living now.
On the other hand, I thought much about my past and about my future. I was tired and washed up both physically and psychologically before the Geale fight. No excuses though. I lost that battle, I lost it to myself. But it’s all different now. I’m still feeling hunger for boxing, I’m still feeling I’m not finished. My wounds healed and I rested a lot. I have a desire to fight, and the fight is still inside my soul. Boxing is what I was born to do and I really want to give it another try. I’m just four or five kilograms above my battle weight even though I haven’t performed any boxing workouts since the Geale fight. However, I do some jogging and some running. But I don’t want to fight for nothing. I don’t want to risk my health for miserable money. I want to be paid appropriately. I know it’s a hard chance now. Look at Dmitry Pirog who is forced to fight for 50,000 USD with all of his talent and with a belt around his waist.
- So, money is the main motivation for you to go on with your career, isn’t it?
- You are right and you are wrong. I will put it that way. I want to earn some money. Prizefighting is all about money and I won’t lie to you – I want to get some more financials and to get a better living. I know some doubters would say that all I think about is money while other skeptics would bark at my desire to earn money (instead of the title). I feel their opinions, and I know that those armchair-greats will give a vent to their bile. I don’t care much though. But don’t get me wrong. I want to earn money, not to receive a gift. I will seriously fight for them and I’m ready to deliver my A-game and not to shamefully lay an egg or, even worse, to fall after the first punch thrown at me. I’m a proud warrior and I’m ready to fight honestly.
- Who will be your opponent if ever?
- There were talks about my bitter rival Cory Spinks but he doesn’t want to fight me much. Peter Manfredo Jr. was another candidate but he knows that I will possibly give him a beating too. At least, I was able to do so during our sparring sessions. Another young and undefeated guy from the Great Britain (possibly Darren Barker) is also out of picture now. So, I’m offered a fight with unknown African fellow (Osumana Adama) now.
- What is the catch?
- The offer isn’t good at all right now. The money is small and I don’t want to fight this dangerous puncher for nothing. If I had been offered a couple of millions I wouldn’t have even thought about anything else. Actually, the same is with just 100,000 US dollars. I would have fought the champion for just $50,000 but without any elimination. But to fight not one but two preliminary fight for an even smaller amount of money is ridiculous. Negotiations are still under way though.
- That’s all good. But here is some bad news. You were diagnosed with a subdural bleeding at the occipital part of your cranium after the Geale fight. How can you fight on with such a diagnosis?
- I suffered an internal bleeding – that’s true. I was rushed into hospital and there were even talks about a possible cranium check, a trepanation. But that bleeding resolved itself. It was quite unexpected but right now I feel myself perfectly. I do think I can fully recover from that accident. However, I’ll surely check with physicians before making any moves. I don’t want to risk my life. Also, it’s to be said that it’s an occipital part of the head so that I shouldn’t be hit there at all. But that is boxing and some fighters hit you at the back of your head.
- Have you seen the fight with Geale defeating Sylvester for the title?
- I have seen only the first six rounds. I don’t think either guy is that good. They are good boxers but nothing really special at all. However, the Australian fighter was faster and quicker and he deserved to get the title. I feel though as I can beat either of them and I still have enough left to make it happen.
- I cannot avoid mentioning one specific fight while I’m talking to you. Give us your thoughts on Wladimir Klitschko against David Haye on July 2.
- Wladimir will break him down easily. He will crush him in a painful manner. I have no doubts about that.
- Thanks for your time, champion, and good luck to you!