By Johnny Walker
When American fight fans hear the name Ibragimov, they probably think of the former WBO heavyweight champion Sultan, who made his mark in the division before retiring after a loss against Wladimir Klitschko. But Sultan’s cousin, Timur Ibragimov, is hoping that after his fight with American prospect Seth Mitchell on December 10 in Washington, DC (the bout will be televised on HBO as part of the Amir Khan vs Lamont Peterson card), that situation will change.
Photo: Gene Blevins – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Ibragimov (30-3-1, 16 KOs) was riding a 9-fight winning streak when he went into the Parisian backyard of Frenchman Jean Marc Mormeck a year ago. Although many who watched the fight, such as this writer, had Ibragimov on top when the bout was over, the Uzbek came out on the wrong end of a split decision. To make matters worse, Timur had to watch as Mormeck was then rewarded with a title shot against Wladimir Klitschko.
If all of this bothers Ibragimov, however, the amiable boxer doesn’t show it. He feels that an Achilles problem that bothered him throughout 2010, but has since been corrected, hampered him from looking even better against the Frenchman.
“What can you do? You going to his home town, and I think you have to look even better than him,” Timur, 36, tells Boxing Insider. “And I did the big mistake — I had before the fight the problem with the Achilles. When I got the French Embassy in Moscow to get my visa, he look at me and say, ‘How you gonna fight? — you can’t even walk!’ I was limping — and he said, ‘How you gonna fight, you can’t even walk normally!'”
“Sometimes we do some stupid things.”
Ibragimov is also under no illusions about the cynicism in some quarters toward the current heavyweight division, especially in America. “Every time, even if you fight a good fight, people will still find something,” he chuckles. “They will say you don’t look too good. You see now, this happen now with Mormeck fighting one of the Klitschkos, and even if [the Klitschkos] beat everyone, they say, ‘Oh,they not good, Klitschkos are not good, they are boring.’ But they are beating everyone!”
“I don’t know — it’s really difficult to look good in everybody’s eyes.”
Nevertheless, Ibragimov claims to have no qualms about fighting an up and coming American prospect in his backyard: “What I like in America, if you’re really really good, and the crowd loves you, they don’t care who you’re fighting with. It’s not like in Germany or in France, where even if you are beating him, they will stay to the end with their guy. Here it’s more honest — if you’re really good, they will go for you,” Ibragimov opines.
“All my fights in America, they start with, “Oh, Russia, no good, no good,” and in the end, they’re like, “OK Russia, let’s go!” [laughter]. I really love this [American] crowd, they are so honest. They really like boxing. To be patriotic is good when you go to war, but not in real life, normal life.”
As for Seth Mitchell, who carries the hopes of the American boxing establishment for a new heavyweight superstar into this fight, Ibragimov is respectful but not awestruck. “What I can say — tough guy, very strong physically,” Ibragimov says. “I mean, American football player, he has to be strong. But, he never fight more than 5 rounds. This will be for him a big surprise, I think. And it’s just my opinion, but he don’t have too much experience, to what we have.”
Indeed, given Mitchell’s undistinguished past opposition, Ibragimov represents a huge step up. Was Timur surprised to be getting this fight?
“You see, I was thinking, why they took it,” Ibragimov ponders of the Mitchell camp. “They was thinking, one year no fight, and they thought it would be easy for him. But I’m really preparing hard for this fight — a lot of sparring, a lot of running. Because I know, I finish my career with this, or I keep going, more on top of this. That’s why I’m taking this so seriously.”
“I’m really looking to win this fight and keep going forward. I’m not thinking that he is an easy guy or something, but I’m not easy too. I am ready. This fight will be very interesting.”