Colin Nathan might know Ryno Liebenberg more than Ryno Liebenberg knows himself.
Whether it is constructive criticism or praising Liebenberg in the gym or during fight, Nathan believes he can get the most out of the fringe super middleweight contender at any time. That time again is tonight, where Liebenberg hopes to continue riding momentum of success in recent fights.
Liebenberg will square off against Fedor Chudinov at the Sibur Arena in Saint Petersburg, Russia, which will air live throughout the country on Match TV. At stake will be a secondary WBA title belt owned by Chudinov.
In his last bout on March 14, Liebenberg (21-7-1, 14 knockouts), who resides in Krugersdorp, South Africa, is coming off an impressive knockout victory over previously-unbeaten Rowan Campbell in a crossroads clash. Liebenberg brutally battered Campbell throughout the fight, dropping once in round 2 before ending matters in round 8.
Chudinov (23-2-1, 16 KOs) fought to a split-decision draw against Isaac Chilemba in his last bout on February 20. The 33-year-old is unbeaten in his last nine bouts since losing by knockout to George Groves in May 2017.
Both Liebenberg and Chudinov fight in the pocket, which makes Nathan believe a fan-friendly awaits, one which Liebenberg could pull off the upset win.
“I think this fight will be a fun one for the fans,” Nathan told Boxingscene Monday night. “These two fighters don’t have fancy footwork and they’re not going to counter-punch each other. They’re going to stand in the pocket and battle.
“I think Ryno has underrated skills. Fedor likes to throw a lot of punches. Ryno is a veteran who understands when to tighten up. I think he’s a natural super middleweight. He has deceptively strong power. He’s very disciplined and he always takes the sport seriously.”
Liebenberg has found success after moving down to 168 pounds from light heavyweight. Prior to his current stretch of having lost once in his last five bouts, Liebenberg has lost to the likes of Eleider Alvarez, Thomas Oosthuizen, Erik Skoglund, and Enrico Koelling. All four fights took place at 175 pounds.
The 37-year-old told Boxingscene he would have had more success had he remained at 168 pounds. Liebenberg considers it a life-lesson, one where Nathan believes Liebenberg’s ring knowledge and level of opposition he has faced will be what leads him to victory.
“My one regret with Ryno is we kept him at 175 pounds,” said Nathan. “He’s brave and he wears his heart in the ring. He was in the Alvarez fight, but I had to protect him when he was getting hurt. He’s so game and Friday’s fight will be exciting for him.”
Nathan understands Liebenberg is towards the twilight of his career. Despite being the betting underdog, Nathan is confident Liebenberg can pull off the upset win.
“It’s no secret we know we’re close to the end of his career. I think he can build off the success in his previous fights and get the win. We know we have to win by knockout. Getting a decision in Russia would be tough.”
In the co-feature, junior bantamweight Mikhail Aloyan (5-1), who is originally from Armenia and now resides in Novosibirsk, Russia, will square off against late-sub Oleksandr Hryshchuk (16-4, 6 KOs) of Ukraine in a 12-round bout.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.