Q & A With Oktay Urkal
13.12.05 - Interview by Per Ake Persson: 35-year old German welterweight Oktay Urkal, former EBU champ at 140 and 147 and a three time world title challenger at jr welter, is the official challenger for WBA champ Luis Collazo. I sat down with him December 9 in Berlin for a talk about the past, the present and the future..
Article posted on 13.12.2005
Q: How does it look for the Collazo fight? Will it be January 28? How do you see the fight?
A: I donīt know, have no idea, you better talk to Don King or my manager about it. I can be ready January 28 if I have to, Iīm always in training, but I havenīt seen Collazo on video yet so I canīt say much about him.
Q: You were a good amateur, topflight, but do you feel you waited too long with turning pro?
A: I had 280 amateur fights, 253 wins, Olympic silver in 96, European champ the same year. No, the 96 Olympics were always my main goal and then to turn pro.
Q: When and why did you start with boxing?
A: It was my older brother who took me to the gym. I began boxing at ten. Both my older and younger brother were much more talented than I was and my father tried to talk me into playing football (soccer) instead but I enjoyed boxing too much and wouldnīt quit. Today, Iīm the only one in still in the game.
Q: You then signed with Universum, how did that come about?
A: The deal was handled by my agent Werner Lichtenberg, there was nothing more to it.
Q: In your first years as a pro you beat several good opponents, Baranov, Krivolapov etc, but against strong Frenchman Gabriel Mapouka (W12-S Oct 7, 00) you seemed to tire pretty fast, what happend?
A: I was dead on my feet after four rounds, I had simply underestimated him. When we fought again two years later I beat him clearly (W12-U, Sep 28, 02).
Q: You then fought Konstantin Tszyu, you put up a great fight but lost a split call, what do you say about Tszyu and the fight now?
A: Heīs a very good boxer, I lost but broke my jaw in the eighth round. I think Konstantin could still have handled Hatton if he hadnīt had problems making the weight.
Q: You then left Universum for Sauerland Event, why was that?
A: The contract expired, I wanted more money, they wouldnīt pay it so I left. That also meant I could return to my old trainer from the amateur days, Ulli Wegner and that was also important. Not that Fritz Sdunek did anything wrong, heīs a great trainer too and a good guy, just like Ulli. In training Fritz is especially good in picking special details to work on while Ulli is exellent in the tactical aspect of the game.
Q: How do you normally prepare for a big fight?
A: I train for about ten weeks, the trainer makes the plan and I follow it.
Q: You moved up to welter after the second fight against Vivian Harris, what does that mean to you?
A: It was something I had to do. I had a lot of problems with making the weight for the second fight against Harris. People who know me said I looked like I was at 140 during the training then but there were still several lbs to take off. I feel a lot better now.
Q: Vivian Harris, you lost to him twice in 04, what do you say about him?
A: A good fighter no doubt about that. I broke my nose in the first fight and that injury gave me a lot of problems during preparations for the second fight as well.
Q: What do you do outside of boxing?
A: Iīm with my family, Iīm married with two kids, and I like to spend time with my friends. I also meet with kids whoīve had problems with the police and try and get them to straighten out in a project called KICK.
Q: Life after boxing, how do you see that?
A: Well, I donīt really know, my family is very important to me, I might go into some small business with my brother and have my own company. If I lose my next fight retirement might come soon but if I win I plan to make a few defences before calling it quits.
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