Q&A: Dmitry Mikhaylenko
Unbeaten welterweight Dmitry Mikhaylenko and Karim Mayfield will open the HBO “World Championship Boxing” telecast on Saturday in Montreal – headlined by Sergey Kovalev-Jean Pascal II – as Mikhaylenko bids to become the latest in a growing line of Russian wrecking machines.
Mikhaylenko (20-0, 9 knockouts) had been scheduled to face Ray Robinson before Robinson injured his back in a car accident. The search was on to find a new opponent and the awkward Mayfield was brought in at relatively late notice.
While this may be a concern to some fighters, “The Mechanic” is embracing the switch.
“This change (to Mayfield) was not really last minute, we still had like three weeks of camp left,” Mikhaylenko explained to RingTV.com through his manager, Egis Klimas.
“At this point of my career I am not trying to prepare for any particular fighter, I am already fighting the way I fight. I will lead them to fight my fight. I will dictate the fight.”
The 29-year-old worked his way through the ranks in his homeland for the first five years of his pro career before emigrating to America in 2014.
Currently Mikhaylenko is ranked No. 10 by THE RING, WBA No. 7 and IBF No. 13. He’s also ranked by the WBC at No. 16 and could expect to crack the top 15 with a victory.
The Main Events/Interbox promotion at the Bell Centre begins at 9:45 p.m ET/PT and will be shown on BoxNation in the U.K. at 2:00 a.m.
RingTV.com – What are you thoughts on facing Mayfield?
Dmitry Mikhaylenko – I am very happy this opportunity came my way. I am very happy I am going to be fighting on this big card, especially with Sergey Kovalev in the main event. This is a big opportunity for me to fight on HBO, to show to people and fans what I can do. I hope my bout will be good and fans will like it and TV will like it so that they will offer me new fights in the future.
When I was an up-and-coming kid, 15-16 years old, I was watching all those TV bouts on HBO and at that time I never dreamed that I’m going to be on this kind of stage. Now it means a lot to me and I am not going to waste this opportunity.
I never heard about him before. After his name came up as a possible opponent, me and my trainer looked at some videos and nothing concerned us. He is just like a regular opponent; he was just like everybody else. We still had a couple weeks left of sparring so we changed to a different style to prepare for orthodox. I don’t think he can give me any problems.
RTV – Opening the telecast for your countryman and stablemate Sergey Kovalev must be something you are excited about.
DM – It is motivating because I am opening the evening on TV on a big show with Sergey Kovalev. He is my friend; we both are from the same country. This means more to me than anything else.
RTV – Tell us about your training camp.
DM – We started my training camp 5 weeks before the New Year in Gelendzhik, Russia. On New Year’s Eve we flew to California and we went to Oxnard. It took about one week to adapt to the time and climate and after that we had very good sparring sessions. It was a gym full of good sparring partners; I started sparring with southpaws and changed into right-handed. The right-handed guys were more than the left-handed so it worked for me. Preparations went without any problems or injuries so I think we did very good.
RTV – What was your youth like, growing up in Russia?
DM – Life in Russia I think is hard for everybody. Growing up in Russia I don’t think it was more difficult for me as a child, I think it was more difficult for my mom. We grew up with no father, plus I had two more sisters and Mom was trying work two or three jobs just trying to take care of us and treat us well. Sometimes it went well, sometimes not, but we lived somewhere in the middle-class range. Never had anything given for free, so most of the time we had to work for ourselves. When I started to grow up I went into sports, and there was school, then after school I went to college, but I didn’t graduate college. At one point I decided to go to university and didn’t graduate because of sports and traveling for sports. I always stopped school because of sports. Right now I am helping my mom, trying to treat her as she did for me when I was a child.
RTV – How did you became interested and take up boxing?
DM – We used to go to a neighboring town to visit my mom’s brother. He had a son, my cousin, who was a little older than me. I was like 5-6 years old. He joined a boxing gym and I was always watching him. I always took his gloves and was trying to hit the bag myself. We would go back to our little town and we did not have a boxing gym. When I was 11 or 12 years old, in my school they opened a boxing gym, so I was probably the first one to join.
RTV – What is your amateur career like?
DM – I had about 350 amateur fights and out of the 350 I had about 300 wins. In Kazakhstan I was a finalist, went to second place in world students, maybe 2006 or 2007. Champion of Winter Games Russia, again it was maybe 2006 or 7. …wasn’t anything like close to Olympics. They wouldn’t let me. Politics.
RTV – You’re a new name on the welterweight scene – what are your thoughts on the division?
DM – I think I am the toughest in the welterweight division (laughs). I don’t want to talk about other fighters before my fight. I just want to fight the top fighters in my career and I want to become a champion. I think I could be at that level.
RTV – Away from boxing tell us about your life?
DM – We live close to the sea so I like to spend time with my family going to the sea. I also like to go to the forest. We have beautiful nature around us, the scenery is beautiful and I like to spend time outside.
RTV – In closing do you have a message for Mayfield?
DM – I want to say a big thank you to him and his team for taking this bout on a short notice. This fight meant a lot to me. I respect that he was willing to take this fight and wish us both a clean, healthy fight.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright