Q&A: Nadjib Mohammedi
Nadjib Mohammedi’s last two fights have taken place on the undercard of Sergey Kovalev’s light heavyweight title defenses. This Saturday he’ll challenge the Russian boxer-puncher for the WBA, WBO and IBF titles. The HBO “World Championship Boxing” show will be broadcast at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Mohammedi (37-3, 23 knockouts) is on a 13-fight win streak that includes a win over Anatoliy Dudchenko last summer, which earned him the IBF’s mandatory position.
The Frenchman knows he is a rank outsider – priced at 16-1 (+1600) – but he believes he has the tools to shock Kovalev.
“My experiences, my speed, my intelligence,” the 30-year-old contender (rated No. 9 by THE RING) told RingTV.com. “With my team we do all we have to do to be victorious, even if it will be a tough fight.”
His manager Vince Caruso also knows the size of the challenge in front of his charge but remains upbeat.
“Nadjib Mohammedi has reached a point in his career where some only dream of,” explained Caruso. “His window of opportunity is open now. In my 20 years in this sport, I have seen very few fighters that have such a strong belief in themselves as Nadjib does. And keep in mind, this is a guy who has been knocked out previously.
“I think that strong desire to win will be the deciding factor come July 25. Nadjib knows this is his one and only shot. He is a tremendously strong athlete and has a great work ethic. I like our chances as the days grow near.”
As well as Kovalev-Mohammedi, the Main Events promotion at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas will feature former 175-pound champion Jean Pascal against unbeaten Cuban Yunieski Gonzalez in a crossroads bout. Also, on the undercard light heavyweight standouts Isaac Chilemba and Sullivan Barrera see action in separate contests and prospect Joel Diaz Jr. looks to continue his progress.
RingTV.com – What are your thoughts on facing Kovalev?
Nadjib Mohammedi – He’s the best in this division for now but this will be a tough fight for both [of us] and he’s just a fighter.
RTV – What do you see as Kovalev’s strengths and also areas you can exploit?
NM – He’s got [a] punch and good timing but he doesn’t know how to step back so distance will be an essential point among many.
RTV – Your last two fights have been on the undercard of Kovalev fights. What were your thoughts on those fights of his versus Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal?
NM – Yes, I was there. Sergey won twice [in] different ways and I saw a lot of details and mistakes which mean a lot of possibilities for me.
RTV – You have previously fought for a version of the world title (the WBO’s interim belt against Nathan Cleverly). Do you feel that has helped you prepare for a fight with Kovalev?
NM – Yes, I have a lot of experiences in many different countries, and yes it helps, so I’m ready.
RTV – He is known for his power. You’ve been stopped twice early in fights. Is that a concern entering the biggest fight of your career?
NM – I have three defeats, only one real one by KO in 2009 – in the first round. I was young, it was a mistake and it can happen. The second time my trainer decided to stop the fight because the conditions were not good and fair enough. Since then the funny thing is all my opponents tried (in vain) to knock me down (laughs).
RTV – Tell us about your training camp?
NM – [I trained at] Big Bear Lake (California), [it] is the best place to be. [I was training] with Abel Sanchez and Ben Lira. I’m in the best condition. We worked on a lot things to be ready for everything.
RTV – Kovalev is one of if not the top light heavyweight in the world. What are your thoughts on the rest of the division?
NM – This is the best division ever! I would be glad and honored to fight them all.
RTV – If we go back tell us about your younger days growing up in Gardanne, Bouches-du-Rh├┤ne?
NM – Gardanne was a good and a tough place to grow up. There were dealers, traffic; you had to protect yourself and your family. My mom raised four children on her own. It was not easy every day, you know. I worked very hard to be where I am today. My life has changed and it’s only the beginning.
RTV – How did you become interested in boxing?
NM – My brother Salim took me to the gym once and I never quit. I knew I was born to fight.
RTV – Away from boxing tell us about your life?
NM – I have a Pizza truck. I love cinema, I’m very interested by this industry. I like to travel, do simple things, and share and spend a lot of time with my family. I represent an association who works against cancer “Le Centre Ressource” this is important for me.
RTV – In closing do you have a message for Kovalev?
NM – Good luck!
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