Sultan Ibragimov Interview: The champ speaks before starting his joyous homecoming!

sultan ibragimov04.06.07 - By Izyaslav ďSlavaĒ Koza: Though by the time most people see this interview, the new WBO heavyweight champion of the world will be on a plane headed back to Russia, his thoughts and reactions will linger in some form here in the US. Still in disbelief, and surprisingly stoic disappointment, regarding the nature of his victory against Shannon Briggs, Sultan talked about Wladimir Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and of course himself and his newly won title.

ESB: Hey Sultan! Of course I have to congratulate you with the sensational victory. You deserve respect and that title.

Sultan Ibragimov: Thank you, Thank you.

ESB: I think what impressed me most is that you werenít afraid to respond, rather then backing down like Sergei, when Briggs landed a few flush shots. So does Briggs really hit like a tank?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yea he is a very powerful fighter and I donít even known how to describe it correctly. We worked out a plan that didnít give him any chances to utilize his ďaces.Ē I held back and fought according to the plan, even though I really wanted to trade with him, because we needed a risk-free victory.

ESB: I think you and your team selected the correct approach to guarantee victory. During the walk to the ring I think many fans were surprised by how confident you looked. Were you at all nervous?

Sultan Ibragimov: No I was just concentrated on the fight and didnít think about anything else. I knew it was a championship bout and that such opportunities are rare, so I just thought about the work ahead and the victory.

ESB: Even though you won almost every round it seemed that you were still disappointed with your performance. As if you were upset about something. What was it and why were you so disappointed?

Sultan Ibragimov: I just didnít do what I always do and had to wait on him a lot. Usually in the history of boxing, when the greats of the past won a title they won it beautifully and convincingly. That is why I was unhappy because I couldnít do what the heroes of boxing did. I did what my corner told me to do and won, but it was still upsetting.

ESB: I donít think you have anything to be upset about. Even so I donít want to praise you too much because it seems if you do that a fighter has a tendency to slack off automatically.

Sultan Ibragimov: Yes, yes, of course.

ESB: Vitali Klitschko once said that, ďit is harder to defend a title then win it.Ē How mindful are you of that thought?

Sultan Ibragimov: I didnít really think about it. Maybe I havenít really realized that I actually won yet.

ESB: What are your plans for the future? I know you are flying home in a few hours.

Sultan Ibragimov: Yea I am going home now, and I am not even thinking about what I will do and what will happen next. Whatever happens, happens, and I will be ready for anything when the time comes but for now I donít want to think about anything.

ESB: I understand, but even so many fans are already curious and asking about your future. Everyone is happy that Briggs and King are no longer a roadblock for unification. Are you hoping for a quick unification bout?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yes, of course, itís just hard to give a more detailed answer right now.

ESB: If the choice was your own who would you fight first?

Sultan Ibragimov: Eh I donít care, whoever they want me to fight is who I will fight. Before the Briggs fight I said the same thing. Whoever we agree to fight is who I will fight.

ESB: Of all the other champs I really think Klitschko is the most willing to unify. Before that though he has a date with Brewster. How do you think that fight will end?

Sultan Ibragimov: Weíll see. I think it will depend on Brewster. Americans are unpredictable. One fight they are ready, and another they are out of shape. We will see which Brewster shows up.

ESB: If you and Vladimir fight do you think the loser will lose anything in the way of reputation in the eyes of boxing fans?

Sultan Ibragimov: Listen, everybody loses, there is nobody who hasnít tasted defeat. Even the strongest fighters have fallen and gotten back up, which is why even if one of us will lose he will get up and keep going further. This is boxing. The greatest fighters in history lost. What about their reputation? They remained the same people they had been.

ESB: Do you want to wish Wladimir luck against Brewster?

Sultan Ibragimov: Of course, I do. With him in particular after the loss to Brewster, he got up, dusted himself off, and didnít lose his fighterís reputation at all as you can see.

ESB: I know you just won the title and that I am asking a lot of questions about the future. Do you understand the sentiment of fans to see a meaningful fight as soon as possible?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yes. Everyone wants these fights, the champs, and the fans and viewers as well. It will happen.

ESB: There were rumors that Mike would come to your fight, but at the last moment he wasnít allowed to leave Arizona. Did you speak with him after the fight?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yeah, Mike didnít get permission to leave, but yesterday we did talk and he congratulated me with the win, and said that, ďnext fight I will try to support you and be close at hand.Ē He said I fought correctly and did all I could the way I could.

ESB: Great. Yesterday I spoke with Boris about your first title defense and how it could be against Holyfield. What is your opinion of Evander?

Sultan Ibragimov: Great champion. I saw his fights and he constantly showed a lot of character and often showed the quality of his fighting spirit. Maybe Mike will help in that situation cause he already fought him twice.

ESB: I know you wanted to thank Suleiman Karimov on Saturday. Do you want to add anything to what you had said on TV?

Sultan Ibragimov: In reality he supported me a great deal for and in preparation of the championship fight. Just as a friend, and as a person, he really helped us. Of course I want to thank him once again.

ESB: Anything to add to the fans?

Sultan Ibragimov: Yes, I really thought that when I came out the crowd would be completely for Briggs, but many cheered for me, and I want to say thank you to those who cheered and supported me.

ESB: Sultan, once again, good luck, and we wish you more success in the future.

Article posted on 05.06.2007

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