Junior Wright stepping up big vs. Rakhim Chakhkiev in Moscow
Sometimes opportunity knocks, and requests that one travel way outside one’s comfort zone to answer.
So it is for Chicagoan Junior Wright, who is right now in Russia, counting down to a Friday bout against Rakhim Chakhkiev in Moscow.
The 28-year-old Wright, promoted by Dmitriy Salita of New York and trained by Steve Clemente, checked in with THE RING and clued us in on this endeavor.
“Getting this great opportunity is an accomplishment,” said the 13-0-1 (11 knockouts) hitter, who last fought in January (TKO 2 win over Rayford Johnson). “I am very grateful for this opportunity.”
We hear about out-of-towners getting messed with so that their concentration gets screwed up. (No offense if I’m showing native bias here, with hints of growing up in a Cold War atmosphere …) Any of that while he’s been in Moscow?
“The flight was great, the accommodations are first class and I am getting good treatment by people here,” he said. “Great experience and I look forward to the fight.” The vacant IBO cruiser title is up for grabs, and the 22-1 (17 KOs) Russian owns an edge in experience on the pro stage, for sure. “Moscow reminds me of New York, it’s very similar, I am adjusting and feel comfortable,” Wright told me.
Wright’s scrap is underneath a card topped by an Alex Povetkin-Mike Perez heavyweight title shot eliminator. (Note: You can watch that bout on ESPN 3, Friday afternoon, around 12:30 p.m. ET or so, and also on “Friday Night Fights,” at 9 p.m. ET, on ESPN2).
Clemente told me that Wright won’t be affected by the long trek or the unfamiliar faces and places. “Junior has never been fazed by big fights, from fighting for the Chicago Golden Gloves Titles, the Olympic Trials to undefeated Stivins Bujaj in his hometown for the WBC International Title,” said Clemente, who has Wright run a ton of sprints to make his stamina A-grade. “He approaches all his fights with the same calm demeanor. We know this is a step up in class and on a much bigger stage, but if he remains calm and avoids Chakhkiev’s bombs for the first few rounds, the fight will be there for Junior. Chakhkiev was down against [Krysztof Wlodarczyk] (in 2013; his sole loss, via TKO 8) and gets winded early. … It is then, after the first three rounds, that Junior will be able to use his strength and stamina to win the title.”
And what of Chakhkiev, a winner of six straight, coming off a KO 4 win over Valery Brudov in April – what does he bring to the table? “He is kind of a cruiserweight Tyson in a southpaw stance,” Wright said. “His weakness? His weakness is me!”
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