Nikolay Potapov to make US debut tonight
The Eastern Euro talent surge in boxing is most definitely a “thing.”
IBF/WBA middleweight boss Gennady Golovkin is the sporting king of Kazakhstan and Americans have embraced his skills, not caring that he occasionally delightfully mangles our language. Russian Sergey Kovalev, the IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight beltholder is this close to Golovkin and he just needs a signature win over an Andre Ward, maybe, to get him to the buzz plateau on which Golovkin currently sits.
There are loads of others who want to impress US fight fans and garner even 25% of the monies and acclaim of those aforementioned.
Here’s one: Nikolay Potapov; the 25-year-old Russian sports a 13-0 mark, with 6 KOs. He gloves up this evening, in Brooklyn, on a card promoted by Dmitriy Salita. The bantamweight is already climbing up rankings ladders and will seek to down 13-10-2 Mexican Pedro Melo at the Aviator Sports Complex. I chatted with Potapov to learn more about him.
First, I asked for his thoughts on fighting in the US for the first time.
“I am very excited to fight in NYC, the world’s big stage for boxing and to box on the popular Brooklyn Brawl series,” Potapov said. “I want to make a statement with my performance, excite the fans and boxing press who will be attending Oct. 29th event.”
So, what has changed in your style that has resulted in decision wins after scoring all KOs? You’ve won five straight by decision…
“I always asked to fight the best available contenders from early in my career,” he answered. “As you see, I started fighting 10-round fights from my [ninth] fight. I have been working on several technical things in those fights. In my last fight, I won the WBA Asian belt and beat the now-world-rated, across all sanctioning bodies, Jason Canoy. I am able to control the fight with my skills. It’s all coming together now and I am looking to get knockouts when they come.”
So what weight best suits you?
“I am a bantamweight and, for a big fight that is meaningful, I can go to 115 or 122…but I want to beat all the best fighters at bantamweight first.”
How did it come about you meeting and signing with Dmitriy Salita and his promotion company?
“My promoter, the PBL boxing president Pavel Popov, made contact with Salita Promotions. Dmitriy is young, professional and understands boxing really well and the fine line of business and the sport part of it from the point of view of a boxer. His company is making lots of progress very fast. I know I will stay busy and he will get me meaningful fights and exposure I need at this point in my career. For this show, I got a great amount of visibility and promotion in the boxing world and New York communities.”
You last fought in Nov. 2014 – why the long layoff and do you plan to be more active, assuming you win tonight?
“I was scheduled to fight earlier this year but my opponent didn’t show up,” Potapov said. “I know I am fighting a tough opponent in Melo. I am in great condition. I have been in the US for several days training and sparring at Fight Factory gym in Brooklyn. I feel ready to perform and look forward to fighting for a world title.”
The upbringing for so many of these guys was tougher than many of those enjoyed by our homegrown fighters. Thus, it translates into more intensity, a greater desire to thrive. We will keep an eye on Potapov, see if he can separate himself from the considerable pack of top-tier campaigners from his region.