By Anson Wainwright
Former amateur star Stefan Härtel makes his professional debut Saturday at super middleweight on the undercard of Yoan Pablo Hernandez's IBF cruiserweight title defense against Firat Arslan.
Härtel 26, fought all over the world in his amateur days. He was very successful winning seven German national titles as well as coming second at the European championships, and he also appeared at the world and Olympic games.
He says he’s not apprehensive about turning pro because of his large amateur background.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Härtel told BoxingScene.com on Monday. “I don’t have to be nervous because I made about 190 amateur fights. It’s six instead of three or five rounds.”
On Saturday he meets tough journeyman Olegs Fedotovs (18-14, 12 knockouts), though the Latvian has only been stopped on four occasions going the distance with Andy Lee, Stanyslav Kashtanov, athough more recently he was stopped in two by Chris Eubank Jr.
“I know I won’t knock him out because he has a good chin and he’s a good fighter and I think it will be six nice rounds.” said Härtel.
The Sauerland Events card is headlined by Hernandez-Arslan and will also see Jack Culcay attempt to win the European junior middleweight crown from Isaac Real. Several prospects are booked to appear including Tyron Zeuge, the Gevor brothers, Noel and Abel as well as Dennis Ceylan and of course Härtel. The action will be broadcast on ARD in Germany while BoxNation will air the show in the UK.
Anson Wainwright - You make you debut Saturday against Olegs Fedotovs, what are your thoughts on the fight?
Stefan Härtel - I’m looking forward to it because I had a long rest since my last fight and I’m looking forward to it and I can’t wait to get in the ring.
Yeah I know (he has fought some good fighters). I know I won’t knock him out because he has a good chin and he’s a good fighter and I think it will be six nice rounds. I think I have to try a little bit for my next bout.
BoxingScene.com - What are your thoughts and feeling about the making your debut?
SH - I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have to be nervous because I made about 190 amateur fights. It’s six instead of three or five rounds.
BoxingScene.com - Tell us about your team?
SH - My promoter is Mr. Sauerland, I think he’s very popular because he’s one of our teammates. My manager is Dennis Lindner and I think we all work together pretty good with our coach Karsten Roewer and I have a good training group with Tyron Zeuge, Enrico Koelling, Jurgen Braehmer, Denis Boytsov and Erik Skoglund. I think they’re good fighters and nice guys and it’s a good training atmosphere there.
BoxingScene.com - You were born in Lauchhammer, Brandenburg, Germany, tell us about your youth growing up?
SH - I can’t tell you something about Lauchhammer because at the age of one we went to Berlin so I’ve lived in Berlin City for 25-years. I came to boxing because of my dad, I tried soccer, judo and then after these two sports I thought now you can try your dad’s sport where he’s a coach and so I started with boxing but I didn’t like it because it was a little bit boring, because my dad looked at the technique, not only the fighting but the bag work, there was a lot of technique because I was 8-years old but I stayed in boxing because I didn’t want to disappoint my dad, so I stayed there and now I love the sport.
BoxingScene.com - You had a very successful amateur career, can you tell us about this and what you achieved?
SH - I wasn’t the strongest guy in the youth [ranks]. I became three time champion at youth level, cadets, youth and junior. I went to world championships in 2006 and European championships in 2004 in youth but I lost my first or second fight and afterwards at the senior level I was successful, I became four time German champion, three times Chemistry trophy winner and fifth place at the Olympic games 2012, (I fought) at the world and European championships in 2013 and tenth place at the world championships in 2011 and this was an Olympic qualification. So unfortunately I never got a medal, they were close decisions but I think I never expected to be that successful. I don’t know exactly (what my amateur record was) but I think 188 bouts and 145 victories.
BoxingScene.com - Who did you face on note in the amateur’s?
SH - These guys (Anthony Ogogo, Anthony Fowler and Michael O’Neil) are very popular because they are from England and Ireland and some of them are now professional.
Actually my strongest opponent was Ryota Murata the Olympic champion, we fought at the world championships in 2011. It was a close bout but he was unbelievably strong, he has such stamina, he worked so hard and deserved to be world champion but lost in the final to (Evhen) Khytrov but I think this my most famous opponent and my strongest one.
BoxingScene.com - You fought a couple of British guys, tell us about fighting them.
Callum Smith was very tall, I fought him at the world championships in 2011, he moved up from 69kg to 75kg, I think at this time he didn’t have enough physical power but now I think that has changed and I want to watch some fights from him as a professional. I think he will make his way. Against Ogogo, I think, my family think and all the Germans think that it was an undeserved defeat for me at the Olympics. I not only fought against Ogogo but against the judges and the 10,000 in the audience. He has a good guard and he runs a lot. Fowler he’s a good guy, he’s not a thinker but he has an unorthodox style and he is hard to fight because you can’t expect what he does next. I like him and I hope he goes to Rio (2016 Olympics) but I think it’s difficult for every boxer.
BoxingScene.com - Having fought all three, who’s better out of them?
SH - It’s difficult because they have different boxing styles. I would say Fowler, I wouldn't like to fight him because he has no guard, he throws punches from his knees and I think he’s the best.
BoxingScene.com - You appeared at the 2012 Olympics, can you tell us about that experience?
SH - It was amazing. Actually I watched the Olympic games in Beijing and the boxing audience was empty there was nobody there. Then I go to the hall at the Excel Arena and I expect maybe 100 in the audience and there were 8 to 10 thousand people, it was amazing. I made three fights in front of that audience and I liked it, I will never forget it. It was the best time and tournament in my career.
BoxingScene.com - You are promoted by Sauerland Event, can you tell us how turning pro came about?
SH - In Germany since 2007 to 2013 I won every German tournament I fought. I reached everything I wanted in International tournaments, unfortunately not a medal but two times fifth place. It was time for a new adventure and Sauerland guarantees me to continue my university. They train in Berlin, It was the only option because Sauerland is one of the biggest promoters in Europe. I think Sauerland is one of the biggest and best promoters and that’s the reason I am now here.
BoxingScene.com - Though it’s early days who have you sparred with?
SH - I’ve sparred with Enrico Koelling and Tyron Zeuge and in an easy way Denis Boytsov. The three are really good, Enrico has an amazing guard and a good punch Tyron Zeuge has an unbelievable technique because he has such good reflexes and he makes sure he see’s everything and nearly never gets punched. Denis Boytsov has an amazing punch. These three guys if I can pick from everything I think I have a complete boxer so I try to look what I can improve and these are good partners for me.
BoxingScene.com - I guess with Sauerland signing George Groves and Mikkel Kessler saying he’d like to return later this year that both would be people that you would like the opportunity to spar and learn from?
SH - Yes, it would be a pleasure because now I start professional boxing and they are on the top of where I want to go to. When I spar with them I could see how good I really am, what I'm missing to get to the top, so it would be a pleasure.
BoxingScene.com - Who is your boxing hero?
SH - My boxing hero is the best of all time for me Floyd Mayweather Jr. he’s the best boxer I ever seen.
BoxingScene.com - In closing do you have a message for the boxing world?
SH - Actually no. I want to try something, I want to make a good fight. I need a little bit of time, I’m 26, I’m a bit older, I stayed a long time in the amateurs. Three or four fights to show my skills but I’m looking forward to it.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright