Anatoliy Dudchenko set on fighting Bernard Hopkins


Ukrainian light heavyweight Anatoliy Dudchenko discussed his pursuit of IBF titleholder Bernard Hopkins as well as his relevance within a stacked crop of 175-pounders within the Main Events promotional stable, as well as the division in general, with

A hard-hitting 35-year-old nicknamed "The Gladiator," Dudchenko (19-2, 13 knockouts) has been trained by former heavyweight titleholder Chris Byrd, according to his manager, Vince Caruso.

Dudchenko stands 6-foot-3 and takes a 16-fight winning streak that includes 10 knockouts into his clash with Nadjib Mohammedi (34-3, 20 KOs) on June 21 in an IBF eliminator on NBC Sports Network's Fight Night.

The winner between Dudchenko and Mohammedi is to be the mandatory challenger to Hopkins, who puts his title on the line against WBA counterpart Beibut Shumenov on Saturday at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C., on Showtime.

Hopkins, meanwhile, has designs on defeating Shumenov in order to set up a unification bout against RING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson for later this year and, beyond that, a fight with the WBO's titleholder Sergey Kovalev.

But Dudchenko said Hopkins must get past him first.

"My management team is focused on this fight with Najib Mohammedi first. After that, we can see what happens with Hopkins. According to his partner at Showtime, [Sports boss] Stephen Espinoza, he thinks I am not relevant and that the IBF will just let him fight an Adonis Stevenson unification. I tell you this…I only fight for the IBF," said Dudchenko.

"This is the true champions' title. You see, I am not ranked anywhere else. When I finish business with Mohammedi, I will hold Hopkins to defend the title with me. I have no plans to step aside for any amount of money. I started boxing for legacy, not finance. When I am long gone, I want people to remember me for my battles, not my bank account."

Dudchenko is part of a Main Events stage that includes Kovalev, undefeated Sullivan Barrera, once-beaten Ilshat Khusnulgatin, twice-beaten Isaac Chilemba and thrice-defeated Lionell Thompson.

"I signed with Main Events because they have Sergey and Isaac. Both, I believe, are the best in 175. They are my teammates but if I had to fight them, I would," said Dudchenko. "I know I have the skills to compete with both and defeat both. But right now, it's about my dream, my goal, what I want more than anything…the IBF title."

Another fighter on Dudchenko's radar is Seanie Monaghan (21-0, 14 KOs), who dropped Joe McCreedy once in the third round and twice more in the final round of a fifth-round stoppage this past Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Monaghan will return to action at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 14.

"In reality, I want to fight Sean Monaghan. He is ranked right under me in IBF," said Dudchenko. "My advisor, Vince Caruso just returned from the fight in Las Vegas to try and persuade his people to make the fight because Bernard Hopkins will not accept fight with me."

Promoted by Top Rank Promotions, Monaghan is extremely popular in New York and with their fights taking place over the course of back-to-back weeks in June, Dudchenko believes a bout with Monaghan would be a great promotion.

"Sean is like me. He started late in the sport. Vince believes a fight with him and myself will sell very large in New York," said Dudchenko, who is promoted by Kathy Duva of Main Events.

"I am Ukrainian and I have so many fans there in little Odessa. And Vince tells me that Sean has a large following there also. This is good. We don't need Hopkins or Showtime. Mr. Bob Arum and my promoter, Kathy Duva can do this business together."