New Faces: Ievgen Khytrov
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Hometown: Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine
Weight class: Middleweight
Height / reach: 5-11 (180 cm)/ 65 inches (165 cm)
Amateur record: 450-50 (estimated)
Turned pro: 2013
Pro record: 6-0, 6 knockouts
Trainer(s): Gary Stark Sr., Andre Rozier
Manager: Michael Elovitz
Promoter: Iron Mike Promotions and Fight Promotions
Best night of pro career: It could be argued that no fighter with less than 10-fights has been as impressive as Khytrov (Pronounced Hytrov) at this point. He has gone 6-0, all inside the distance against decent opposition.
He considers his first round stoppage over once beaten Willie Fortune as his best win to date.
“The last one, it ended very quickly,” Khytrov told RingTV.com through translator Olga Petrov. “I put in a lot of preparation in that particular fight so I count that as the most significant.”
His trainer Gary Stark Sr. who works with noted middleweights Daniel Jacobs and Curtis Stevens as well as light heavyweight U.S. Olympian Marcus Browne, was most impressed with his third pro outing.
“I like the fight with Julius Kennedy because that kid was a good fighter,” said Stark Sr. “Even though he was 7-7, he still had a lot of ring smarts; (Kennedy) was a veteran.
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“That was a good fight, the way he broke him down and took him out.”
Worst night of pro career: Khytrov has stopped all of his six opponents inside the distance, looking very impressive.It’s hard to pick holes in the heavy handed Ukrainian at this point.
“I can’t really name anyone,” said the 26-year-old boxer-puncher. “All of the fighters were equally difficult and challenging in that respect. I am happy with all of my performances.”
Next fight: He continues to stay active when he faces Louis Rose (11-1-1, 3 KOs) on Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The bout will be shown on beIn Sports.
Rose, 25, has lost just once in 13 fights, a six-round decision to journeyman Tony Hirsch in the fall of 2012.
Originally, there was talk of experienced Laatekwei Hammond, however his team felt Rose to a fresher challenge.
Why he’s a prospect: Khytrov came from the hugely successful Ukrainian amateur program and competed on the same 2012 Olympic team as Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko. He remains in contact with them.
“I consider that as the best team Ukraine has ever had,” said Khytrov. “I went to Ukraine recently and there are some guys who are coming through with great potential. It’s difficult to single anyone out.”
His biggest success was winning gold in the middleweight class at the 2011 world championships where he beat fellow up and coming pro Ryota Murata, of Japan, in the final.
Khytrov won bronze at the 2013 European championships, the boxing European cup and European junior boxing championships and was Ukraine national champion in 2010.
He competed at the 2012 Olympics where he lost to Anthony Ogogo in the round of 16, losing on the count-back system. That loss clearly rankles with him.
“It was a scandalous fight and I lost to the British guy,” he said. “But I have my reservations on that fight.”
Since turning pro Khytrov has sparred with many top professionals including Stevens, Browne, Patrick Day and Sean Monnaghan. Recently he spent two months in Pennsylvania, sparring countless rounds with Jacobs.
“That (sparring with Jacobs) made a crucial impact on my ability to win that fight (the Fortune fight),” he said.
Stark is very impressed with the Ukrainian.
“You know why he’s a good prospect?” Stark Sr. says rhetorically. “Because when we got him he had maybe 500 amateur fights, that experience means so much.
“When these guys come over here they have so much experience. It’s funny because in the United States the top amateur guys might have 100, 150 (fights), over there they don’t really have professionals like that. Them guys stay around the amateurs for 400, 500 fights, they come over here and they’re like a well-rounded pro already.”
The inevitable comparisons will be drawn between Khytrov and Gennady Golovkin. Both are from nations that were part of the old Soviet Union, both were big amateurs and are heavy handed.
Khytrov down plays the resemblances.
“Today I think Golovkin is the best out there,” Khytrov said. “I don’t try to guess or predict things but I’m putting in maximum effort to try to become better.”
Stark worked Stevens corner when his fighter fought Golovkin last November and questions if GGG is quite the puncher he’s made out to be.
“When Golovkin fought Curtis they had him down as a real big puncher, but I don’t know. I don’t see him as a real big puncher,” said Stark Sr. “He dropped Curtis in the second round and it took him six more rounds and he couldn’t really put him out. We pulled him out, Curtis wasn’t fighting.
“If you go back, if Nigel Benn dropped you in the second round you’re not lasting into the third round, same with Julian Jackson, to me they’re big punchers.
Stark believes his fighter to be more aggressive than the much ballyhooed Golovkin.
“I look at Golovkin, he’s patient, Khytov is an aggressive fighter and he knows what he’s doing, he’s out there to really hurt you,” reasoned Stark Sr. “He knows where to go, he goes to the angles, that’s what makes him so different from these guys.
“Khytrov breaks you down so fast and then he takes you out. He does some great stuff that I learned from him.”
Why he’s a suspect: At this juncture “The Ukranian Lion” has breezed through his opponents and there are no obvious areas of weakness. When asked where he feels he needs to improve in his quest to become middleweight champion he was diplomatic with his answer.
“There is no limit to perfection,” said Khytrov. “I have some areas where I know I need to work on but I don’t want to mention them.”
Having knocked out all his opponents, you wonder what will happen when he faces someone who he isn’t able to hurt. Has an estimated 500 amateur bouts taken anything from him physically? Also having been in the amateurs for so long he’s not accustomed to going the 10- or 12-round distance that the pro game offers.
“All he has to do is get the rounds in, he has to go from eight to 10 rounds,” said Stark Sr. “Once he gets to 10 rounds he can fight anybody; he’s like Lomachenko, he can fight guys with 30 fights from an early stage.”
Story lines: Khytrov grew up in Kryvyi Rih, a city of around 650,000 people according to the 2013 census. Situated in central Ukraine and known for its steel.
“In the town where I grew up, if I didn’t have boxing in my life I don’t know where I would end up.” he said.
As a youngster Khytrov enjoyed fighting and was taken to the gym by his father when he was seven years old. Though boxing wasn’t what his parents wanted for their son.
“My parents didn’t actually want me to take up boxing,” he said. “But there were a lot of up and coming great boxers and I was fascinated by them, like Klitschkos, Mike Tyson.”
Like many boxers his age Khytrov looks up to Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali as well as enjoying the fighting styles of Fernando Vargas and Felix Trinidad.
“I look at different boxers and see the best things that apply to each one of them,” he said.
Late last year Khytrov moved to Brooklyn with his wife, it’s significantly different from being back in his homeland which is going through some of its own troubles. Though he has now adapted to his new life.
“It’s more peaceful and people are very different from Ukrainian people,” said Khytrov. “Especially with the current events. I watch the news but don’t get involved everyone is tense, people even try not to go outside.”
His manager Mike Elovitz likes what he’s seen from his fighter to date, believing he resonates with the boxing public.
“There’s a tremendous appeal, not only is he getting better each fight,” said Elovitz. “There’s crowd appeal. The first big fight we had was at Turning Stone, the people are drawn to Khytrov. Pittsburgh, it was the same thing. He likes boxing, he’s student of the sport. He wants to be a star, he loves it. He likes to be entertaining. It’s not a job; it’s more than a job.”
Khytrov’s goals are very clear.
“I want to be a world champion, that’s why I am in boxing and I want to test myself against all the best boxers.”
Dec. 18 – Christian Nava – TKO1
Aug. 8 – Willie Fortune – TKO1
Jun 6 – Chris Chatman – TKO3
Apr. 10 – Jas Phipps – TKO2
Feb. 21 – Julius Kennedy – TKO5
Jan. 31 – Romon Barber – TKO3
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright