Vyacheslav Glazkov confident of Cunningham win, team wants meaner performance
Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov says he is determined to prove something to his current and prospective fans on Saturday: that his vast amateur experience has been converted into something that will beat Steve Cunningham.
In doing so, the 2008 Olympic super heavyweight bronze medalist from Ukraine would become the mandatory challenger for the winner of the April 25 Wladimir Klitschko-Bryant Jennings fight.
Cunningham-Glazkov will be shown as part of the HBO-televised Sergey Kovalev-Jean Pascal card in Montreal.
“Anything you know about [Cunningham] is the same thing I know about him,” Glazkov said through his manager Egis Klimas recently. “He has very big [professional] experience. I had big experience as an amateur. Now I am training with a trainer who trains only pros. I’m bringing a little bit of something from my amateurs and I am putting everything together. I am training 100 percent, two or three times a day. I’m predicting a very good bout between the two of us.”
Klimas has been impressed with Glazkov’s preparation and focus, with one key caveat.
“We are working with him mentally to be more mean in the ring, more aggressive,” he said. “He’s too nice. Everything he does outside the ring, he’s a nice person. So we’re trying to get that rhythm. But he has good speed and the speed is power.”
Talented Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (23-2-2, 10 KOs) is on the card also. The Malawi-born light heavyweight, who is rated No. 6 at 175 pounds by THE RING, was eager to discuss his improved mental game as he prepared to face Vasily ” the Professor” Lepikhin (17-0, 9 KOs) of Russia.
Chilemba thought he was going to face Artur Beterbiev but Beterbiev decided not to take the fight. He is comfortable with the change.
“I feel good about it,” he said. “The original opponent was Artur, a strong, tough guy, so we were working for that type of opponent but now it’s changed to Lepikhin, a taller, slicker guy. But we had about four weeks so we’re good to go.”
Chilemba has won three consecutive fights since he drew and then lost to Tony Bellew in 2013. He learned valuable lessons in those fights, he said.
“I’ve learned enough since what happened to me in London,” he said. “I think I’ve beaten myself up enough for that loss. [Bellew] didn’t come with anything different in the second fight. I was just a little confused in my own head. And since then I’ve tried to work on what happened in my mind and tried to connect with myself. So that was a big change for me. Boxing-wise, I believe in myself.”
Buddy McGirt, Chilemba’s trainer, added, “[Chilemba] took over the [first] fight. We got jerked. We got a draw. Then we had the rematch and [Chilemba] just mentally wasn’t there in the fight.”
Someone who has also long admired the talents of Chilemba is none other than his opponent, Lepikhin. As respectful of Chilemba as he was sure of his own ability to best him, Lepikhin seemed intent to drink in the moment and not squander the experience of being on the televised portion of a card this big.
“I’m very happy and excited to be on the show,” said Lepikhin. “I always wanted to fight Chilemba. I’m very happy to be on an HBO show, to fight such an experienced fighter. This kind of environment, that’s what I wanted all my life. I think it’s going to be a meeting of two boxers with two very different styles. I feel inside it’s going to be a very good and exciting bout.”
Said Lepikhin’s father and trainer, Andrey Lepikhin: “The [being] proud of my son is already over. Many, many years we were just watching television and we were dreaming about how to get there but now we are here. Right now it’s war.”
Klimas sees Lepikhin as a versatile boxer who “can fight distance, he can fight inside, he can throw a lot of punches combinations. I think he’ll learn to fight in a telephone booth. That’s how good he is at inside boxing. Any position you put him in, he can fight.”
Light heavyweight contender Nadjib “The Algerian Assassin” Mohammedi (36-3, 22 KOs), rated No. 8 by THE RING, will also be on the card Saturday, facing Lee Campbell (8-1, 4 KOs).
As the IBF’s No. 1-rated contender, If Mohammedi wins he becomes the mandatory challenger for Kovalev.
“It’s a very good opportunity,” said Mohammedi in halting English. “After my fight, I show them, Kovalev and Pascal. I want to be the best. It is my trajectory. I want to be the first unified light heavyweight [champion].”
Said Nick Caruso, his manager: “I could compare him to a rabid animal ÔÇª he fears nothing. I have never seen a hungrier guy. Sergey might have a better athletic skill set than us but we have got something he doesn’t have and that’s heart. Let me tell you, [Mohammedi] shows good against Sergey Kovalev. We want Chilemba after that.”