Q&A: Nadjib Mohammedi
This Saturday, light heavyweight contender Nadjib Mohammedi will appear on the Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev undercard in Atlantic City. The 29-year old Frenchman will face Demetrius Walker, a journeyman with 15 professional fights, seven of his past eight ending in losses.
Despite the apparent lack of competition, though, Mohammedi (35-3, 21 knockouts) is keeping his eye on the prize.
“I’m the official number one IBF challenger,” Mohammedi told RingTV.com in late October. “Neither Hopkins nor Kovalev scare me. I’m ready to face them after this fight.”
Mohammedi is ranked in the top 10 by three of the four main sanctioning bodies: WBA (No. 4), IBF (No. 1) and WBO (No. 8). In THE RING’s light heavyweight ratings he currently sits at No. 9. The IBF ordered Hopkins-Mohammedi in July but Hopkins (who owns both the IBF and WBA belts) elected to face WBO titleholder Kovalev instead.
Mohammedi’s first U.S. appearance was a seventh-round TKO of Anatoliy Dudchenko in Pennsylvania this past June.
The HBO telecast will be headlined by Hopkins-Kovalev, with the co-feature being Luis Abregu vs. Sadam Ali at welterweight. Also scheduled to appear are unbeaten heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov, Los Angeles-based Ukrainian light heavyweight Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and 50 Cent’s up-and-coming lightweight prospect Ryan Martin.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on facing Walker?
Nadjib Mohammedi – That’s an opportunity for me to fight for the second time in U.S. and to stay active.
AW – He’s 7-7-1, so while you have to take the fight seriously it’s a fight you should win. Why are you fighting someone with a record like that at this stage of your career?
NM – I don’t underestimate any of my opponents so I take every fight seriously. And that’s especially a big opportunity for him to fight me.
AW – Earlier this year you stopped Anatoliy Dudchenko in seven rounds. Tell us about that fight
NM – I was well prepared, I knew it was going end with a KO or TKO and I knew that I had to give a great performance.
AW – What is it like for you fighting in America?
NM – I’m going to be the next light heavyweight world champion and it’s in U.S. that I will make it happen. That’s the place to be.
AW – If we go back, you’re from Gardanne, France. What was it like for you growing up there?
NM – Growing up there was a fight every day to make my dreams come true. Where I come from, if you’re not ambitious or don’t fight you will not make it happen.
AW – How did you become interested and take up boxing?
NM – First time my brother took me into a boxing gym, then boxing choose me.
AW – Boxing isn’t doing very well in France, it struggles to get attention on TV and in the media, but in the past you had some good world champions. Why is there a slump in boxing in your homeland?
NM – That’s right, we don’t have the “savoir faire” yet. We have great potential but no money. But I’m gonna prove to the world that we have great fighters in France.
AW – You’ve lost three times, twice early in fights and the other time against Nathan Cleverly in a world title fight. Tell us about the early stoppage losses and also the experience you gained from fighting and giving Cleverly trouble?
NM – My first KO was an accident and for my second fight the conditions [were] not regular. From Cleverly I’ve learned a lot. You always have to be ready for a fight because you don’t know when your phone rings and I knew that I was a world-class fighter.
AW – What are your thoughts on the light heavyweight division?
NM – That’s the best division because that’s where you have the most dangerous fighters.
AW – Your fight is on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev — how do you see that fight going?
NM – I think Hopkins is gonna win and I would like to fight him because he’s a legend.
AW – Tell us about your life away from boxing?
NM – I have a food truck that’s my little family business — we make good pizzas. I enjoy movies a lot, like go to cinema and maybe one day I will be in a movie.
AW – In closing do you have a message for the light heavyweight division?
NM – I’m next generation of world light heavyweight champion. I let Hopkins fight Kovalev. After Nov. 8 we’ll see if the winner will not [run] away from me!
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected]and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright