Sultan Ibragimov’s Manager Boris Grimberg: “Klitschko is the only other champ who wants to unify!”
03.06.07 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: It has been less then 24 hours since Sultan Ibragimov took the WBO title away from ex-champ Shannon Briggs in a tactically brilliant effort. Even though the dust has not yet settled, and the wheels of celebration have not stopped spinning, it is important for us as fans to look to the future and push the new kid on the block towards unification. Sultan’s promotional team, thankfully, does not usually disappoint.
Article posted on 04.06.2007
Warrior’s boxing is known for matching its fighters in very high profile and risky bouts, most notably Edison Miranda, who went down swinging in a terrific and action packed bout against highly skilled Kelly “the Ghost” Pavlik. Even though Pavlik is the one being talked about, how much has Miranda lost in terms of reputation if he fell against such a credible opponent and didn’t back down like so many others citing money or negotiations as reasons/excuses? The very same goes for Vadim Tokarev, who was put in and matched tough against Germany’s Captain Marco Huck also in a losing effort. Months earlier, O’Neill Bell went over to France to rematch current cruiser champ Jean Mark Mormeck, whom he subsequently lost to as well. However, many times the fighters themselves lost the point is the team that represents them believed enough in them to make those matches. This is something fans have and hopefully will have reason to continue and appreciate.
Thus, Warrior’s track record suggests they can lead us to heavyweight salvation by once again believing enough in their fighter, Sultan Ibragimov to match him hard. Though, Sultan’s next likely fight will be a justifiable title defense in Russia, rather then a bout most fans are really searching for, if the WBO does not saddle us with yet another mandatory, there is no reason to believe unification is not possible.
This is precisely why, while being a fan of Sultan and happy he has a belt, as a fan of the sport I am hopeful that the team that represents him will give us a meaningful title vs. title rumble. Hence, an interview or rather yet an interrogation of Sultan’s manager Boris Grimberg was a necessity only a single day after Sultan’s victory.
ESB: Boris, first off, thanks for speaking with us so soon after Sultan’s win. It seemed that even though Sultan fought a terrific fight, winning at least 11 rounds on my card, he was unhappy with the result. Can you tell us why?
Boris Grimberg: Because Sultan is a very talented and artistically self-critical person. He believes he should have knocked him out. We believe it was the best fight of his pro career, because he boxed and didn’t brawl with that mountainous mallet, but he thinks he should have fought better. That is just the kind of self critical person he is.
ESB: It seemed that Sultan proved he can fight in more then one way if the need arises. Against other opponents whenever he needed to, he took risks while here he showed he can be tactical and smart and risk less. Even so, there are many critics who say that “Sultan didn’t win but rather Briggs lost.” Do you think that will encourage him to try even harder in the future?
Boris Grimberg: I will reply to the critics with one single phrase: “(censored).” When they fight against a dangerous 270 pound puncher, who hits like a ton of bricks, and from whom Klitschko ran, then let them talk. Let them say he was sick, and had asthma, even though he stood up all 12 rounds and was dangerous until the last second. The critics’ job is to criticize and our job is to win. The most dangerous puncher in the whole division was facing off against Sultan last night.
ESB: Boris, I agree, and even great champions like Lennox Lewis were criticized when they beat the likes of Tua and Tyson so Sultan did everything correctly last night.
Boris Grimberg: All those self-indulgent people can talk all they want. Briggs is another one of these self-indulgent fools.
ESB: The most impressive thing was when Briggs connected flush two or three times, and unlike Lyakhovich, who backpedaled, Sultan tried to answer back and moved forward.
Boris Grimberg: You are still surprised? Sultan is the best heavy in the world. The only thing is we should hold him back from that manner of fighting where he brawls all out, but even yesterday you saw that he can keep himself under control.
ESB: Unlike the promotional teams of other boxers with heavyweight titles, your team isn’t afraid to take risks and organize fights against the strongest opponents. The best examples of this are Miranda’s fights with Abraham and Pavlik and Tokarev’s with Cora and Huck. The question basically asks itself: Will you try to organize a unification bout and how soon will you do it?
Boris Grimberg: Of course. Unquestionably, but unfortunately it doesn’t all depend on us, you know? There are too many wants and too many political movements. Our companies: Golden Grain, Warriors, are trying to make fans return to the arena. Return them to being fans of the sport. Right now, all these UFC’s and K’1’s are picking up steam and becoming popular because boxing is less interesting. Our job is to return fans to the screens and to the stadiums and casinos to watch boxing.
ESB: Of the three titleholders at heavy, I think Klitschko is the only one of the three who is seriously interested in a super-fight. Have you contacted their team and started negotiations?
Boris Grimberg: Not yet, but even so we have already gotten so many offers that we are looking at all the different opportunities.
ESB: What about Ruslan’s team?
Boris Grimberg: Chagaev? Do you really think that they will seriously agree to a fight against Sultan?
ESB: No, that is why I am only enthusiastic about Klitschko, since Maskaev’s team is hiding behind negotiations, and could be doing that for a few years, while Chagaev’s promoter rarely leaves Germany. So Klitschko is the only one left and in fact is the one trying to find a willing dance partner in the mind’s of many.
Boris Grimberg: There is not one active champion who is as dangerous as Sultan. Am I wrong? Ok, Klitschko, but what happens if Sultan will land on him the way he landed on Briggs yesterday, and by the way Briggs was bleeding all over himself at the press conference, what will happen to Klitschko? How will he react?
ESB: He will hug and clinch.
Boris Grimberg: Yeah, exactly, and Sultan will move away. I don’t think he is that dangerous an opponent. Yeah, of all those fighters who now hold titles he is #1 but he doesn’t know how to react when getting hit. Sultan is the strongest fighter in the world. Yeah, if somebody will stand at the right distance with Klitschko he will lay him out, but Sultan won’t fight him that way.
ESB: Ok, then I will ask this question: If you organize a fight between Vladimir and Sultan, I understand that you think Sultan will win, but would the one who ends up with a loss, really lose anything in the eyes of the fans? In other words, I think even if one of them gives up his belt will have more respect then the other two champs who did not fight.
Boris Grimberg: How many times did Klitschko lose already? Three? Did he lose anything? He won’t lose anything if it happens a fourth time. I am sure he will not lose anything. He is a terrific fighter, a boxer of the highest caliber, but Sultan is just a phenomenon in boxing. Nobody has really seen him in the business yet is all. Klitschko is in this business for 12 fu---- years already. Sultan: five years and one week. Who else after such a short period won a title? Only Leon Spinks.
ESB: What about Chagaev?
Boris Grimberg: Chagaev is a terrific boxer, too, and he even beat Sultan in 98 when Sultan was only boxing for two years. I think both are worthy of each other but even so, Sultan is better.
ESB: I agree that Ruslan is a good boxer and probably person, but his team never leaves Germany.
Boris Grimberg: And will never leave. That is why the only champion, that has some understanding about how boxing works, and who wants to earn some money, and with whom we will be fighting one of our next bouts, is Klitschko. Not the next one, of course, cause he has to fight Brewster.
ESB: Do you think he will beat him?
Boris Grimberg: No I don’t want to say that because Brewster has a chance. Brewster is a good boxer. For us, he would be a much more dangerous opponent then Klitschko. Brewster is a natural warrior, and he is one of those who is in reality dangerous, and when Klitschko, who is a great fighter, and who has learned a lot of interesting crap from Steward, met with real warriors the results were obvious.
A boxer is defined by his heart. Sultan has the biggest heart and that is why I believe in his success and his future. I also want to add that all of us who are working in boxing should get together and define the direction we want to take the sport, if we don’t want lose that which feeds us.
Sultan is the one guy that will put fans into seats. Have Klitschko or Valuev brought in the fans?
ESB: As I mentioned, I think most of them hide behind negotiations or conditions regarding when they grace us with a ring entrance. How many years will Maskaev be negotiating with Peter? How long must fans be subjected to that? You, for instance, organized the Briggs fight very quickly and I hope that when the time comes for unification bouts that your team will act the same way.
Boris Grimberg: You are correct, we are chasing them. We are putting it all on the line. This is boxing if you are afraid to fight somebody what are you doing in the sport?
ESB: There are rumors that Sultan’s next fight will be in Russia against either Brock or Holyfield.
Boris Grimberg: Who is Brock? Why should we fight him? People will say we are trying to chase after Klitschko’s opponents.
ESB: Yes, whether he has potential or not is not relevant, because if you pick Brock people will fairly assume you are trying to chase after Wladimir’s leftovers.
Boris Grimberg: We won’t allow that. We do want to give Sultan a less difficult fight after a hard one though. So he earns some money. That is just reality. Then we will attempt to unify. I am telling you first, “Nobody will fu---- hide from us.” We will get a unification fight. We will offer them the kind of terms that they won’t be able to refuse.
ESB: I hope that that is exactly how it will turn out. I remember Yuri Foreman telling me how when Sultan first came to the US he was fighting for pennies, for laughable purses, because he was realistic about his situation and position. I hope that, yes, even though he needs to earn money, he will remain that kind of person. That unlike Maskaev, or rather not Oleg himself but his team, that Sultan won’t be demanding a certain amount of money just because he holds a belt.
Boris Grimberg: I think Sultan will remain the type of person he was before he won the title.
ESB: Other than that, if you are looking for a none too difficult fight then, yes, Holyfield seems like a viable opponent. He has name and popularity.
Boris Grimberg: You are supporting my idea. Thank you, I feel you are correct. Holyfield is a name, in fact, that is an understatement, and also not the most difficult fight for Sultan. Yes, of course, any opponent is dangerous, especially a former four-time world heavyweight champion, but for a middle of the road bout, he will be perfect.
ESB: More importantly, Evander is winning lately. If say you would have wanted to fight him after the terrible loss to Donald then it would make no sense. Now it’s more or less justifiable as a first voluntary defense.
Boris Grimberg: Yes, and he will be fighting on the 30th against Savarese. Tomato Can or not, a win for Holyfield will help get him closer to a title fight maybe.
ESB: Have you begun negotiations?
Boris Grimberg: No, we are still celebrating the victory. I still can’t believe I am managing a world champion. The critics should have looked at both Shannon’s and Sultan’s faces after the fight. Yes, Sultan got hit a few times but he didn’t have a single scratch or bruise on his face. He looked terrific.
ESB: I read one fan’s opinion, and he thought Sultan looked like Marciano, only with a different haircut.
Boris Grimberg: Yeah, yeah, not big, no tattoos, doesn’t drink, smoke. A clean kid. What else does a boxer need? What does America need in a champion? A regular, honest, good-hearted guy. Came down from the mountains, came to America, got used to the American culture, and as he himself says he is half American, and won the title. Yesterdayh he was already answering questions better in English at the press conference and this year I think we will promote him the way he should be promoted.
ESB: Boris thank you for your time and as always good luck to Sultan and you.
Boris Grimberg: Thanks for the Call.
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