Back in February, Vitaliy Kopylenko scored an early stoppage over Cerresso Fort in the inaugural “Boxcino” middleweight tournament on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.”
“I was very well prepared for that fight and I took it very seriously,” Kopylenko told Maxboxing.com. “I was watching Fort’s fights and analyzing them a lot before the fight.”
The win set the 30-year-old Ukrainian on a path where he’ll meet once-beaten New York native Willie Monroe Jr.
The pair clash in the semifinal round this Friday night on ESPN2 at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona in upstate New York.
“Willie Monroe is a good fighter and I respect him. I am ready for this fight as always. I will not make any predictions but the fight will show if what I have planned for him will work in my favour,” said Kopylenko.
Kopylenko, 23-0 (13), hopes to use the “Boxcino” experience to break into the thriving middleweight scene having fought his entire pro career in Europe prior to beating Fort.
Anson Wainwright - In the opening round of “Boxcino” middleweight tournament, you stopped Cerresso Fort in two rounds. Can you tell us about that fight?
Vitaliy Kopylenko - I was very well-prepared for that fight and I took it very seriously. I was watching Fort’s fights and analyzing them a lot before the fight. I had not planned to finish him in two rounds. I was just boxing and thinking about my plan.
AW - You now meet Willie Monroe in the semifinal this Friday. What are your thoughts on that fight?
VK - Willie Monroe is a good fighter and I respect him. I am ready for this fight as always. I will not make any predictions but the fight will show if what I have planned for him will work in my favour.
AW - Of course you’ll be aiming to win the whole tournament. What would that mean to you and your career?
VK - It means a lot to me. It is a big step for me, which will take me to a fight for the world title in the future.
AW - Little is known about you. Presumably you’ll be looking to use “Boxcino” as a springboard to bigger and better things in your career?
VK – Yes, it is a big opportunity for me and my boxing career.
AW - The Fort fight was your first in America. Previously, you’d been fighting in Europe. Can you tell us about your career up to this point?
VK - Yes, I was boxing mostly in Bulgaria, Switzerland and Belarus. I had 22 fights in Europe before this fight.
AW - Tell us what was it like for you growing up in Vasylkiv, Ukraine.
VK - I grew up in a small village, Glivaha, which is close to the town of Vasylkiv. I had a simple life, ordinary family and a younger sister. While I was going to school, I started boxing at the age of 16.
AW - Did you have much of an amateur career? What titles and tournaments did you win? Also, what was your final record?
VK - I’ve had 75 amateur fights and I won most of them. I won many international tournaments but I always wanted to be a pro. Also, I was champion of Ukraine in kickboxing before I deeply engaged in boxing.
AW - I’m sure you have many family and friends in Ukraine. With what has gone on as of late, this must be very troubling to you.
VK - Of course, I miss all my family and close friends in the Ukraine...I don’t let it get to me. I know I will see them soon and I keep in touch with them online whenever I have time.
AW - When you look at the middleweight division, it is full of talent with World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin, Felix Sturm, Peter Quillin, etc. What are your thoughts on the division?
VK – Yes, the division is well-filled with great boxers. I like Gennady Golovkin and Sergio Martinez and enjoy their style very much. They are great fighters. I have sparred some great fighters at Wild Card [Boxing Club] and I know I can perform at the level of the champions in my division without any trouble.
AW - In closing, do you have a message for boxing fans who’ll be tuning in to see the semifinal of “Boxcino” on Friday?
VK - First of all, I want to say thank you to all my fans and friends and my family who is going to watch me and who support me. I want to show to everybody great and exciting boxing and I will do my best to perform in the most fan-friendly fashion!
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