MONTREAL — Polarizing Russian heavyweight, Arslanbek Makhmudov understood, to realize his dream of soon becoming a heavyweight champion that he must fight in the United States.
Makhmudov, whose record stands at 16-0 with 15 knockouts will fight in the America [Toledo, Ohio] for the first time on July 1st in a semifinal’s bout for Top Rank Promotions Heavyweight Gala against, Raphael Akpejiori, who is 15-0 with 14 knockouts.
“Lion” plans to go hunting in July against Akpejiori in hopes of landing a shot at one of the heavyweight champions in the near future.
Conquering the American crowd with a stellar performance in July would indeed garner the attention needed for a title run. Makhmudov is ranked #5 by the WBC and WBA.
Makhmudov shares his thoughts on making his U.S. debut with Zenger News.
Zenger: Congratulations on reaching the semifinals of Top Rank’s gala. How is preparation going for your July 1st fight against fellow undefeated Raphael Akpejiori?
Makhmudov: I’m excited to be on the Top Rank show. We are happy and also, I have had good preparation for my opponent. Everything is okay. We are now in camp and everything is going well, thank you.
Zenger: With this being your first fight in America [Toledo, Ohio], how soon would you like to come over here to get acclimated to time, food, etc.?
Makhmudov: Yes, this is my first fight in the USA, but I live in Montreal, Canada, this is not far from Montreal. I don’t think it will take a long time to acclimate to things, maybe one week.
Zenger: Are you more nervous or more anxious to make your U.S. debut?
Makhmudov: No, I’m not nervous. For me, it’s like a normal fight. It’s my job and I have been waiting all of my life to box in the USA. That’s why I know it’s normal and part of my job to fight in the USA and to be on TV for this fight. I have the experience of fighting in Montreal and on ESPN and I have fought around the world, so I feel comfortable for this fight.
Zenger: Akpejiori is 6’8, he came in at a career high 263 ½ in his last fight in January. Are you expecting him to come in heavy against you to lean his weight on you, or do you expect him to come in lighter, so he can move around better to avoid your power?
Makhmudov: He is a tall guy, but I have experience of fighting tall guys like that. I don’t think about what he is going to do. I saw a couple of his fights, and I think more about what I do and my job.
Zenger: He’s 15-0 with 14 knockouts, you’re 16-0 with 15 knockouts. It’s safe to say we may not need the judges for this one. Are you comfortable trading power for power against Akpejiori?
Makhmudov: It’s boxing. We cannot say nothing about the result. I go to show my best condition and my best boxing. I will try to show my best performance and I hope that it’s enough to win. I don’t know how I’m going to win, but either way, I do anticipate a win.
Zenger: What do you feel will be the thing that separates you from Akpejiori, and will be the reason your hand is raised?
Makhmudov: I just have so much more experience in the amateurs and even in our professional careers, I just have so much more experience. I have been in with some big names and trained with some experienced fighters, and I have experience with my boxing skills and I know I’m better.
Zenger: Given your ranking and your position in this heavyweight gala, where would you like a win in July to place you amongst the rest of the division?
Makhmudov: Yes, I want to win and show the world that I am in the top of the heavyweight division.
Zenger: Your ultimate goal is to become a world champion in the heavyweight division. You seem well aware that you had to fight in America to reach that goal. How important is it for you to not only win July 1st, but to put on a show to be remembered by the U.S. fans?
Makhmudov: It’s important for me, but I also want to show a big drama show. I want to show the people in America who I am and hope they like my fight. I want the world to like my fight.
Zenger: I appreciate your time and best of luck to you this summer. Is there anything you would like to add before I let you go?
Makhmudov: Thank you very much and thank my fans. I want to show the world my best performance, and my fans are going to be happy to see me in the USA.
Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Hammond