Last December, his career without direction, boxing nomad Zhanat Zhakiyanov travelled from his home in Kazakhstan to fight in Hong Kong. If you can keep winning in this game, good things come to you and that’s exactly what happened when he signed with powerful advisor Philippe Fondu. In turn, Fondu brought his newest charge to Britain where he’s trained under the watchful eye of a certain Ricky Hatton.
After two months of learning in late June, it was time to put his newfound skills into action when Zhakiyanov faced Michael Escobar, stopping the journeyman in four rounds. Not one to let the grass grow under his feet, he makes a quick return fighting on the 16th July in Minsk, Belarus taking on experienced journeyman Yuri Voronin.
Zhakiyanov intends to cast his gaze toward the European bantamweight title, currently the property of well-respected Stephane Jamoye, with the plan to meet him this fall. It should be noted that Jamoye is sitting in the number one slot by the WBC so he may elect to vacate rather than take on the difficult assignment Zhakiyanov would present.
The 25-year-old is on a 15-fight win streak (his last seven wins were by stoppage) in a record that sits at 20-1 (13). At present, he’s ranked number 12 by the WBC and 10 by the WBA.
Anson Wainwright - You recently fought for the first time, stopping Michael Escobar in four rounds, having been out of action for six months. Why were you out of action for so long?
Zhanat Zhakiyanov - The main reason I haven’t boxed since Hong Kong is that we were expecting the EBU to issue the purse bid procedure for the mandatory defence against Stephane Jamoye. Jamoye won the vacant European title in December 2012 and made one voluntary defence in March 2013. The mandatory is overdue and my management team was convinced the EBU would comply with the rules but they allowed Jamoye another voluntary in September, which is out of date. Anyway, he won’t be able to avoid me much longer.
AW - Now that you have gotten past Escobar and Jamoye is, as you say, scheduled to defend his title, what is your plan?
ZZ - To keep me active, Ricky Hatton has proposed for me to box in Minsk [Belarus] on the undercard of Sergey Rabchenko and Kiryl Relikh. As I said, hopefully, Stephane Jamoye won’t be allowed to duck me after his voluntary defence of September. I hope this fight can take place in Kazakhstan in October or early November.
AW - What have you done with your time in the six months between your two most recent fights?
ZZ - After [fighting in] Hong Kong, I came back home, enjoyed the New Year with my family and then went back training. Then Ricky Hatton and Philippe Fondu offered me to come to Manchester to train under Ricky’s guidance, which I did for the last two months.
AW - What has it been like training with Ricky Hatton?
ZZ - A fantastic experience! Both Ricky Hatton and [assistant trainer] Mike Jackson have devoted so much time to me over these last two months and have helped me to improve to the next level. I am feeling much more relaxed and sharp when in the ring. I’ve learned how to improve my physical condition too. Ricky Hatton is an excellent mentor; he’s been in all types of fights and is able to pass this huge experience to the boxers he trains. I feel extremely privileged about this.
AW - In your career to date, you have fought in many different countries. Could you tell us about that experience and how it has helped improve you as a fighter?
ZZ - While I like, of course, fighting abroad so to have public exposure, once you are in the ring, it is just you and your opponent.
AW - Could you tell us what it was like growing up for you in Kazakhstan when you were younger? Were things tough for you and your family or did you have a good upbringing?
ZZ - I was born in the small village of Blagoveshenska, which is in on the River Amur, close to the border of China. I moved with my family to Petropavlovsk, which is in the far North of Kazakhstan, close to the border of Russia in a region called Oural. The weather is very cold in the winter [as low as -43 degrees Celsius/-45.4 degrees Fahrenheit] and quite hot in the summer [as high as 40 degrees Celsius/104 degrees Fahrenheit]. We have a lot of snow in the winter, which makes it quite hard indeed. I have a very good family. We live together with my wife, my brother and my mother in a nice country house in the small city of Petropavlovsk. My dad passed away in 2006. We have a very big dog living with us too.
AW - How did you first become interested in boxing?
ZZ - I started trying wrestling but did not enjoy it so much, so when I was 11 years old, I started boxing as most of my friends did it. I won some medals in international amateur tournaments and then decided to turn pro.
AW - Your countryman, Gennady Golovkin, is one of the hottest fighters in world boxing currently. Do you know him personally? Were you in the same amateur team with him and what do you think of him?
ZZ - I do not personally know Gennady Golovkin as he’s half-Russian and is from the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana [previously called Almaty], while I am from the North of Kazakhstan, quite far away from the capital. But my brother was with him on the national team and Gennady has indeed an excellent record in his amateur career. He is a very lovely individual in and out of boxing and a great champion. His own brother, Oleg, is on his team and always everywhere with him.
AW - Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do away from boxing?
ZZ - To be honest with you, I do not have any hobbies except boxing, which is my passion. I can’t think, for the time being, about anything else but succeeding in becoming European champion first and then fight for and becoming a world champion. I have now a fantastic team around me, Ricky Hatton as my coach and my mentor, Mike Jackson, my managers, Philippe Fondu and Yerik Jailauov, who all take great care of my future.
AW – Lastly, do you have anything you’d like to say to the bantamweight division?
ZZ - The next step is the European title but with the support of Ricky Hatton, Mike, Philippe Fondu and Yerik Jailauov, I’m so sure I’ll become a world champion after this. Thank you for showing some interest in me I will not disappoint you. Please keep supporting me.
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