New Faces: Sergey Kuzmin
Hometown: Kolchugino, Russia
Weight class: Heavyweight
Height / Reach: 6-feet-3 inches (191 cm) / 75½″ / 192cm
Amateur Record: 227-23
Turned pro: 2014
Pro record: 7-0 (4 knockouts)
Trainers: Gennadiy Mashyanov
Manager: Vadim Kornilov
Promoters: World of Boxing
Best night of pro career: Kuzmin considers his best win to be his most recent performance, when he stopped Konstantin Airich a round quicker than current IBF heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua had in September of 2014.
“Best evening, April 8, 2016,” Kuzmin told RingTV.com through his manager Vadim Kornilov, “when I won the WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council heavyweight title in (the) second round (by) TKO. This is my first title in the professional ring.”
Worst night of pro career: The big Russian is least pleased with his performance in Summer of last year against Brazilian journeyman Marcelo Luiz Nascimento, who took him the eight-round distance.
“Not the best performance was 22, June 2015,” he explained. “I went in not very good shape, due to certain circumstances. It helped me to review the entire training process and the preparation before each of my fights.”
Next fight: Kuzmin ends a six-month hiatus with his third bout of the year when he meets Mike Sheppard in Ekaterinburg, Russia on Saturday.
Although the 41-year-old Sheppard enters their bout with a record of 24-19-2 (10 KOs), Kuzmin is fully focused on who’s in front of him.
“Despite his age, (Sheppard) looks in good shape,” he said. “And if you watch his record, he’s met with such renowned boxers like (Antonio) Tarver, (Gerald) Washington. Experience is experience. I am ready, 100 percent.
Sheppard is a near-20-year veteran, capable of going rounds, if he’s allowed, in a fight. However, he has been stopped 14 times – 12 times inside three rounds – and Kuzmin will be expected to make that 15 times.
Why he’s a prospect: The crowning moment of Kuzmin’s long amateur career came at the 2010 European Championships, where he captured gold. Three years later, in the same tournament, he won silver.
He twice won Russian National titles as well as gold at the Martial Arts Games and the Strandja tournament. During his youth, when he was fighting at 81 kilograms (approximately 179 pounds), he reached the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Junior Championships and the semifinal of the ’07 European Junior Championships.
Although he never fought at the Olympics, Kuzmin did fight at the ’11 World Championships, where he disappointingly lost in the second round. He boasts wins over perennial super heavyweight stalwarts Viktor Zuyev and Erik Pfeiffer, ’08 Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle and ’16 Olympic runner up Joe Joyce, who he stopped in one round.
Since making the transition to the pros, Kuzmin has started training in the United States. He’s gained valuable pro experience working out at several gyms in Los Angeles.
“Preparation is very different from in Russia,” he said. “America has all the conditions to become a great champion. The sparring partners are at a higher level, isolated from household chores, just full concentration on boxing.”
Kornilov, who also represents former junior welterweight titlists Ruslan Provodnikov and Viktor Postol, feels his fighter has the capability of making noise in the heavyweight division.
“He is a very technical fighter with major amateur experience and background,” explained the manager. “I think that Kuzmin can be a lot of trouble for most top-rated heavyweights in the world and he has proven so in some of the sparring sessions I have seen of him with some very established heavyweights.”
Why he’s a suspect: Kuzmin appears to tick a lot of boxes. He’s a solid 250-plus pounds, 6-foot-3, in the thick of his prime with a solid amateur pedigree. However, while it’s still early days, he doesn’t appear to be the biggest of punchers, sporting a 57 percent knockout ratio.
As an amateur, he was more of the bridesmaid than bride. It will be interesting to see if he can emerge from that role in the coming year or so.
While we don’t know how he will react to adversity, Kuzmin’s time on the amateur scene would suggest he’s seen most of styles likely to come his way.
Story lines: In his youth, Kuzmin studied and enjoyed music. At 11, his father introduced him to boxing.
“My mother was against me boxing,” he admitted, “but my father insisted, without compromise. We went to my first junior competition, where I won three fights.
He was particularly struck by Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, saying Tyson inspired him.
Kuzmin is married but, for now, the couple doesn’t have any children. He likes to spend time with his family, visit the theater, museums and exhibitions and loves cycling, skiing and traveling.
Nov. 28 – Nicholas Buule – KO 1
March 1 – Emilio Ezequiel Zarate – UD 6
June 22 – Marcelo Luiz Nascimento – UD 8
Aug. 27 – Darnell Wilson – TKO 4
Nov. 13 – Irineu Beato Costa Junior – KO 3
Feb. 18 – Rodney Hernandez – UD 10
April 8 – Konstantin Airich – TKO 2
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at http://www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright.
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