Sultan Ibragimov Interview: “Shannon Briggs wore that sweater to convince everybody he lost weight!”

12.05.07 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: With June 2nd rapidly approaching, WBO #1 contender Sultan Ibragimov is currently working hard in training gearing up for his first, hopefully successful, title shot. In between the running, sparring, and words of wisdom from strategic goliath Jeff Mayweather, Sultan found a few minutes to give for an interview.

ESB: Hey Sultan! First off can you tell us what you did at home after your last fight?

Sultan Ibragimov: I drove up to the mountains, rested there for a week, ran periodically, you know, kept in shape. Of course, first and foremost, I saw all my relatives and close friends.

ESB: In your last bout did you expect Mora to attempt an all out attack at the opening bell and is that something you and Jeff were prepared for?

Sultan Ibragimov: From the fights of his that we watched he was always going forward, but I didn’t really expect him to throw himself at me from the first second. I was really prepared for a longer fight. I saw his fight against Kirk Johnson and he was only going forward there too, though in the end Johnson was about to finish him before his leg gave out.

Like I said though we were ready for a longer fight so there was no difference.

ESB: It seemed that Bernard Hopkins was really happy with the result. What did he tell you after the fight?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yea he was in fact very happy for me and gave me high marks for the win. He said that, “ Now I have seen for myself and believe that no other heavyweight possesses the same speed and strength that you do.” Then he added that he believed in me.

ESB: Bernard is considered one of the craftiest fighters in boxing right now. Did he give you any useful advice yet?

Sultan Ibragimov: Before this fight he was in the dressing room and did say, “no matter how strong or weak your opponent is be careful in the first 2, 3 rounds.” Other then that he didn’t really say anything.

ESB: Did you watch Klitschko vs. Austin?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yea I saw it. I don’t know to me, personally, it seemed that Austin went into the ring ready to lay down. It’s like he didn’t have the desire to be in there and lost before the fight actually started.

ESB: Does it bother you that Klitschko was able to deal with him so easily while you and Ray fought to a draw?

Sultan Ibragimov: No, not really, because I know what I am capable of and what I can do in the ring when I am at peak fitness. That is why it doesn’t worry me. Austin was the most underrated opponent of my career and whatever may happen in the future I don’t think I will make those kinds of mistakes anymore.

ESB: What about Valuev vs. Chagaev? Are you and Ruslan acquainted?

Sultan Ibragimov: I saw it. Chagaev seemed to want to take the title more. We know each other from the amateurs, and also met at the Olympics so we do know each other.

ESB: Did you ever fight?

Sultan Ibragimov: We fought in 98 but I lost. I wasn’t on the national team yet they just took me there. It was in Krasnoyarsk and they had different champs fighting and both Povetkin, the one who isn’t a champ, and I were robbed in my opinion. Povetkin fought a Belarussian named Dychkov I believe, while I fought against Chagaev.

ESB: Boris tells us that if you win against Briggs the most ideal opponent for a unification bout would be Sam Peter. What do you think about him?

Sultan Ibragimov: Samuel Peter? I think he is the strongest fighter at this weight and that he is very confident in his abilities after the Klitschko fight. From what I saw of him in the bout against Toney, he added a lot to his arsenal, and that is why is the strongest fighter right now.

ESB: Do you know each other?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yes, he was also at the Olympics. We met, shook hands, and became acquainted.

ESB: Did you hear that, I think it was yesterday, that Cedric Kushner sued Wlad Klitschko and his team on behalf of Briggs?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yea, I heard about it.

ESB: Tell me, if another boxer sues you and your team would you want to have some sort of working relationship with him in the future?

Sultan Ibragimov: Well personally I wouldn’t care. Every other fighter takes every other fighter to court so it wouldn’t bother me really.

ESB: I am asking because it seems that Briggs calls him out on the one hand and then is involved in lawsuits with him on the other. I am just wondering how they think they would organize a fight with him in the future?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yes, of course Klitschko could just find himself another opponent and tell Briggs’ team, “Why exactly do I need you?” I don’t know though cause it really doesn’t have anything to do with me.

ESB: Many fans were very surprised by the strange attire Briggs wore to your press conference. Did his “skeleton-sweater” surprise you?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yea? (laughing) No it didn’t surprise me. Can Briggs really surprise us at this point? He wore the sweater to convince everybody he lost weight and that he looks like a skeleton now.

ESB: (laughing) Do you think he tried to distract you with the outfit?

Sultan Ibragimov: No I don’t pay attention to that. I am focused on the fight and his antics don’t divert my attention.

ESB: Would you wear something like that if you got it as a gift?

Sultan Ibragimov: Nah, I prefer to wear suits to press conferences.

ESB: What about just on the street?

Sultan Ibragimov: Also no. Those types of sweaters aren’t for me.

ESB: Any message for Briggs?

Sultan Ibragimov: No, what message? There is about three weeks plus left. Maybe as I told you before that I hope his health doesn’t betray him and most importantly that the fight isn’t postponed again. I just hope we both get to the ring and then everything should be decided.

ESB: I read on one site that you know Ramzan Kadyrov. Would you say that you are friends?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yea I know him. I wouldn’t say we are friends but we do know each other.

ESB: Not long ago he became president of Chechniya. Do you think he can bring stability and peace to the Chechen republic?

Sultan Ibragimov: Well right now he has a lot of strength and power in Chechniya, and he is the most respected person there, so I think he can restore order. He is also supported by the people and he has already succeeded in accomplishing some things.

Before him it was complete anarchy: robbery, kidnappings, people were murdered, but now you can drive through Chechniya in and see and feel relative calm. When in the last 10 years, even more then 10, has this been possible? Right now that reality is achievable and all that is thanks to Kadyrov.

ESB: Sultan thank you again for your time. Anything to say in closing?

Sultan Ibragimov: That the fight was postponed was of course not my fault, but I was ready then and I will be ready now. Thank you, Thank you to everybody who cheers for and shows me support.

ESB: We wish you luck, success, and will be cheering and hoping come fight night.

Article posted on 13.05.2007

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