Thursday, September 21, 2023  |



Umar Dzambekov faces Kwame Ritter on Saturday at Chumash Casino

(Photo by Lina Baker/360 Promotions)
Fighters Network

Promoter Tom Loeffler has come across a lot of fighters throughout the years.

From Oba Car, Kevin Kelley, Shane Mosley, the Klitschko brothers, and Gennadiy Golovkin, Loeffler knows talent when he sees it. 

If there is a fighter he believes can win a world title belt, it is light heavyweight Umar Dzambekov. 

The decorated amateur will face fellow unbeaten Kwame Ritter Saturday night at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California. The eight-round bout will precede the main event bout between junior middleweight contender Serhii Bohachuk and Patrick Allotey.

Both fights will stream live on UFC Fight Pass (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

Dzambekov (5-0, 4 knockouts), who was born in Grozny, Russia and migrated to Austria, where he excelled in boxing as an amateur. He was a nine-time amateur champion in Austria, eventually making his pro debut in July 2021.

The 25-year-old would make his pro debut in Southern California on January 27, knocking out previously-undefeated Anthony Fleming. In his last bout on June 9, Dzambekov knocked out gatekeeper Crispulo Javier Andino in the third round.

Loeffler has high expectations of Dzambekov. He has liked what he has seen thus far, even drawing comparisons with one of his most famous charges.

“Umar is one of the most disciplined fighters I’ve worked with,” Loeffler recently told The Ring. “He’s here for boxing. Almost like Gennadiy was with (trainer) Abel Sanchez was up in Big Bear (Lake). All Gennadiy did up there was train, eat, and focus on the boxing. Same with Umar. I really appreciate that from Umar. He’s very dedicated with his goals in boxing.” 

Dzambekov is grateful for Loeffler’s support.

“It’s great,” Dzambekov told The Ring. “It shows he has that trust in me. The only thing I have to do is put my work in and get the wins.”

Despite the opposition he has faced thus far, Dzambekov has displayed a solid skill-set to compliment his punching power. His punches do have impact, but Dzambekov is all about breaking down his opponent

“As soon as I get the opportunity, I’ll try to finish him for sure,” said Dzambekov, who is trained by Marvin Somodio. “My style is to break somebody down and finish him. I do not rush things, that’s what I’ll say. As soon as I get the chance, I will finish (a fighter) for sure.”

The two top light heavyweights in boxing unified titleholder Artur Betebiev and WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol. 

Dzambekov understands he is just starting out as a pro and will need to improve, but he does aspire to become one of the best fighters at 175 pounds and win a world title belt. 

“Always try and do better than anyone,” said Dzambekov. “Those two are at the top, right now. They are world champions. I think that (if) I get the experience as a pro, in (about) two years, I’ll be at the same stage. That’s how I feel.”

Since arriving in Southern California, where he resides in Los Angeles, Dzambekov has settled in and adapted well to the lifestyle. One thing he has excelled at is the amount of sparring and observing at the famed Wild Card Gym in nearby Hollywood.

Dzambekov has sparred with the likes of top junior middleweight prospect Callum Walsh, but he has absorbed a lot of knowledge by sparring contenders and unbeaten fighters. 

While he does enjoy the sights and sounds that is Southern California, Dzambekov knows he has a job to do, and that includes defeating Ritter (10-0, 8 KOs) and moving forward in his career. 

“During the previous training camp, I sparred a lot with Gabe Rosado. That was great. He’s (now) retired from boxing. That was very good experience I had. A lot of fighters come to Wild Card to spar. I don’t know their names. Anyone comes in and spars. That’s the thing I never really had before. You have great sparring opportunities in America. I think that’s the difference compared to Europe. 

“I’ve been here a total of 11 months. It’s gotten a lot better. (I) still find things that are different, compared to Europe, but you get used to it. It’s good. I like it a lot here. I like the weather, where I live, the people. Everyone is friendly. It’s different from Europe. The most important thing, the reason why I’m here is the boxing. There is no other better place to be, regarding boxing, than here in Southern California.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]