Beibut Shumenov: Santiago has a lot of experience and he’s fought some big names. However, my goal with each fight is to improve every time I step inside the ring.
AW: Some people have criticized Santiago getting the title shot; he’s previously been stopped by Antonio Tarver and Zsolt Erdei. What are your thoughts on that?
BS: Santiago is rated number 15 by the World Boxing Association. None of the other world champions were interested in fighting or available to unify and we made offers to some of the other top-rated fighters. Danny stepped up and he is a worthy challenger with much more pro experience and three times as many fights compared to me, professionally.
AW: In January, you were scheduled to fight Jurgen Brahmer in unification. However, he pulled out of the fight a few days before. He did the same thing when he was scheduled to defend his WBO crown against Nathan Cleverly in May. Can you tell us about the nightmare that you endured with Brahmer?
BS: I’ve put the Brahmer situation in my rearview mirror and I’m 100 percent focused on Santiago and this fight.
AW: The light heavyweight division is pretty hot at the moment. How do you see things at 175? Can you comment on the other three champions, the WBC’s Bernard Hopkins, the IBF’s Tavoris Cloud and the WBO’s Nathan Cleverly?
BS: Right now, I’m only thinking about Santiago. However, I have much respect for all the other champions. Let’s just say I hope one of the other world champions will put his belt on the line someday against me.
AW: How do you see the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson fight going in October?
BS: I’m not into predicting fights. Hopkins is heading to the Hall of Fame someday and Dawson is very talented so I look forward to watching it.
AW: Could you tell us about your team? Who serves as your manager, trainer and promoter? Also what gym do you train at?
BS: I am self-managed and self-promoted and I train with Kevin Barry in Las Vegas, NV. I own and operate my own promotional company, KZ Event Productions, with my brother, Chingis.
Anson Wainwright - You were born in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. Did you have the typical hard upbringing many boxers do and how did you become interested enough to take up boxing?
BS: I started doing Tae Kwon Do, karate and mixed martial arts when I was only six. I was state champion in Karate. I first got interested in boxing after watching Mike Tyson fight on TV. Shortly thereafter, I fell in love with the sport of boxing.
AW: You were a very good amateur; could you tell us about your amateur career, what titles you won, what it was like fighting at the 2004 Olympics and what your final record was?
BS: In the old former Soviet Union countries, there were different levels of boxing. My dream was to get to the master level. I thought that I had reached my highest level when I was a boxing master and never thought I’d be boxing in the Olympics or a professional world champion. I was very proud to represent my country in the Olympics but disappointed because I won the opening round but broke my hand.
AW: Last year, you were promoted for a bit by Goossen Tutor; however, now you are back promoting yourself. Can you tell us why you aren’t with Goossen Tutor anymore?
BS: I am focused on training and my fight on July 29th. My contract with them has been terminated and the dispute with Goossen Tutor is in the hands of my lawyers.
AW: How are things developing with KZ Event Productions? Tell us about the fighters you have under your banner and what your hopes are for them.
BS: We currently have three world-rated boxers fighting under the KZ Event Productions banner, WBA FEDALATIN welterweight champion Ravshan Hudaynazarov, WBA International light heavyweight champion Gayrat Ahmedov and WBA light welterweight champion Alexandr Zhuravskiy. I’m very proud of all three and have high hopes for each.
AW: Can you tell us a little about yourself as a person, how you have adapted to life in America and what you like to do away from boxing, such as your hobbies and interests?
BS: I moved to Las Vegas to further my boxing career three years ago. My hobbies and interests are all solely focused on boxing. I train hard every day to improve my all-around boxing skills. Also, I am a lawyer along with my brother, Chingis, too.
AW: Finally, is there a message you have for the light heavyweight division?
BS: My dream is to unify the titles. There are so many elite fighters in this light heavyweight division; it would be an honor to meet them in the ring.