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Denis Lebedev: "I want to have four fights in a year"

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A decade ago, cruiserweight wrecking ball Denis Lebedev was fighting as a light heavyweight. Whilst not seemingly destined for great things, he decided to retire from the sport after going 13-0 with eight wins inside the distance. That was until a chance meeting with his friend, current WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin, who passed his manager, Vlad Hrunov’s number to Lebedev. In turn, Lebedev made the call, which turned out to be one many cruiserweights wish had never taken place. Lebedev beefed up and returned to boxing after a near-four-year hiatus, getting active and losing the ring rust before opening eyes when he travelled to Britain and faced former WBO champion Enzo Maccarinelli. Lebedev brutally beat up Maccarinelli, forcing a stoppage late in the third round. Afterwards, he continued to maraud his way through all his opposition with vicious consequences including a spiteful knockout of highly regarded Alexander Alekseev (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxjlHR8nDK8). Lebedev parlayed the win into a title fight with Marco Huck, which remains the only blot on his ledger, currently 24-1 with 18 kayos. Despite losing via split decision, Lebedev proved himself to be one of the top cruiserweights in the world. Since then, he’s gained notoriety beating aged former stars like Roy Jones Jnr. and James Toney, against whom he claimed the WBA interim cruiserweight championship. Originally, the plan called for the 33-year-old southpaw to fight the WBA “regular” champion Guillermo Jones this month but after his manager/promoter, the aforementioned Hrunov, brokered a deal with Jones’ promoter, Don King, the show moved to 17 December.


Anson Wainwright - You last fought back in April when you stopped Shawn Cox in two rounds. Can you tell us about that fight?
 
Denis Lebedev - It’s a good fight. I want to have four fights in a year. I must be an active champion. I am ready to fight every three monthsWe make plan to have a fight in France in July vs. [Jean Marc] Mormeck but the WBA ordered ours vs. Guillermo Jones.
 
AW - You fight Guillermo Jones on 17 December in Moscow for the full, “regular” WBA cruiserweight title. What can you tell us about this fight and what do you think of Jones as a fighter?
 
DL - He is a great fighter but he has problems [making] weight. I saw his photo for the event; he looks like people who live in McDonalds (laughs).

AW - You have fought Roy Jones Jnr. and James Toney, two legends of the game. Can you tell us what it was like to share a ring with them and how it has helped improve you as a fighter?

DL - Right now, I am the fighter who beat Roy Jones Jnr. and James Toney. I am very happy; it’s good for all, two legends. The Roy fight is better.
 
AW - Could you tell us about your team? Also where do you regularly train for your fights?
 
DL - My manager and promoter is Vlad Hrunov. We worked with my trainer, Kostya Tszyu, and physical coach Andrey Kozlov. Our gym is in Chekov, Russia.

AW - Your last few fights, you’ve worked with Kostya Tzsyu. Of course, he was a great champion. Can you tell us a little about what it is like training with him?
 
DL - Kostya is a great champion; he is a very strong coach. We train hard; I am happy with him. He has a lot of experience in boxing.

AW - Could you tell us about your younger days? Did you have the hard upbringing many boxers do? How did you first get into boxing?
 
DL - My papa brought me into boxing. He told me, “You must be champion of the world.”

AW - Could you tell us about your amateur career? Did you fight for Russia and what tournaments did you win? What was your amateur record?
 
DL - I stayed for a long time on the Russian amateur team. My best win was the European Junior Championship in England in 1997. [I had] 200 fights, 189 wins.

AW - Who do you think is the best cruiserweight in the world?
 
DL – Me! (laughs)

AW - You didn’t fight for nearly four years from 2004-2008. Why were you away from so long? What happened in your time away from boxing?
 
DL - I tried to work because I have family. [Alexander] Povetkin brought me back to boxing; he gave me the cell number of Vlad Hrunov.
 
AW - You have several highlight reel KOs in your career including those over Enzo Maccarinelli and Roy Jones Jnr.? Which is your favorite?
 
DL – They’re all good fights for me but I have no favourite in the ring.
 
AW - When you’re not boxing, what do you like to do with your spare time? What are your hobbies and interests?
 
DL - I like spend time with my family; I have 3 daughters.
 
AW - Do you have a message for your fans?
 
DL - Thank you very, very much for your interest. Welcome to my next fight in Moscow on December 17.
 
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright. Anson is also a member of The Ring magazine’s ratings panel.
 
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