Victor Oganov Interview: The ĎDestroyerí says, ďMy dream is to win a fight on points. Honestly, that is what I train to do!Ē
19.06.07 - By Izyaslav ďSlavaĒ Koza: Those that have been with me from the beginning, know that I try to focus on helping the boxing world meet up with, and find out about fighters, whose career, style, or personality are worth keeping an eye on. Since this is the standard by which I interview guys, there should always be something intriguing about any single person that takes the time out to speak with us.
Article posted on 20.06.2007
The question that unbearably has to be asked is what makes Victor Oganov so special? I think the fans on this site are too smart to be fooled by a pretty professional record without much substance. Personally, I canít blame them because, after all, that is a logical concern for fans who invest their time in watching a certain boxer progress through the ranks on his way to a title or the trash. Anyone can clearly see that Oganovís opponents to date are, in the most generous of terms, sub-par in nature. Although I will not focus on the excuses regarding this, I will say that as with most guys who are not famous amateurs, managing and promotion are always and always will be major issues.
That does not change the facts regarding his opposition, but neither does it alter the facts that each of them went down via KO or TKO. Considering that many top ranked media darlings usually find a guy able to take them the distance, Oganov has not. That, by the way, includes, Richard Grant who has generally been a durable distance trial horse for many good fighters, including Jeff Lacy, who could only get by Grant with a decision. Oganov did the job in two rounds.
Even so I can still see the most villainous critics sitting there staring at the screen and saying, ďso what, Mr. Koza, you need to give me more then Johnny gave Ito in the O.J trial,Ē seeing as I have not presented my big Ace for the intriguing reason behind my getting in touch with the ďDestroyer.Ē
I have never heard of or seen an amateur fighter who has won all of his amateur bouts by stoppage or a TKO based victory. Yes, even that opposition was not loud to a degree, but show me guys who have had more then say 20 amateur bouts who crushed all their victims, not on points, but on punches. Even though Victor humbles himself in that regard, and does rightfully point to his losses, I am not even remotely as modest as him.
What his amateur record tells me is he was MOLDED for the professional ranks, and for giving fans exactly what they want to see. Doesnít that make everybody just a least bit curious about what this kid can do against better fighters?
I know I am.
ESB: Alright, Victor, letís start with the fresher stuff. Just over the past few days, the bout against Echols was cancelled. Can you tell us why?
Victor Oganov: We couldnít agree with the company organizing the fight. Recently, I signed a contract with a bigger promotional organization that I think can do more for my career. That company is Gary Shaw Promotions, which also represents the interests of my friend Vakhtang ďVicĒ Darchinyan.
I was just at the office today, shook hands and verified all the details. My next fight should be finalized for the end of July or the beginning of August.
ESB: Some fans wanted me to ask you about your plan for the Echols fight, and even though it was cancelled, I think the question is still valid. I know that this information is usually not discussed before a bout. However, I will ask why there are some guys who arenít afraid at all to discuss it, while there are those who donít want to no matter what?
Victor Oganov: Every guy has his own reasons, but I think it very wise not to give away your game plan before a fight. I also donít like to, for instance, give disinformation. Why do that? Weíll just see in the ring. It will always be more interesting that way.
ESB: What differences do you notice between the personalities of the former and the latter?
Victor Oganov: Well, itís show-business so there is nothing extra-ordinary here. Really you canít even consider such statements as realistic thoughts. For instance, I read on one site, donít remember which, that I was going to knock Echols out in some round and that Tyson was going to be in my corner, right?
I was very surprised. That is the first time that I have heard about it and I donít even the source of that information.
ESB: Whom would you want to fight against next?
Victor Oganov: Weíll see. There are many fighters in my weight who are very good almost one being better then the other you know. Out of the 15 best, I might be 9th or so, and it will depend on my team, and who I will fight in order to get a few places higher. Other than that, who do you we have there? Calzaghe is obviously the target for everybody else.
ESB: Do you think you are ready for a championship bout? (Our conversation is interrupted by a phone call from Jeff Fenech. I am impressed to find that Victor speaks English quite well.)
Victor Oganov: I donít think that I have to fight for a title right at this moment, although I wonít turn it down, or run away from such an opportunity, if I am offered such a fight. If there is good money, then of course.
I mean what serious fighter, prepared or unprepared, will turn down the opportunity of not only becoming a champion, but jumping to a level where he will be getting bigger purses?
I think that guys like, Joe Calzaghe, and Kessler, are not really that different from many of the top fighters including me. They are all boxers, and they are all normal people like those of us who are lower down in the ratings. Yea they have a title, and a fight with them is more important for us, perhaps, but to me personally, it doesnít make a difference.
ESB: It seems you are saying that fighters on the elite level are to a degree all of the same pedigree.
Victor Oganov: Yeah, in a sense.
If I get offered relatively good money then I will be happy to right now, of course. At the moment, though, what I really think I need is to spend more time in America. Iím here for the second time and am happy with the atmosphere, and the fact that America is the center of professional boxing, and that there are a lot of good boxers with whom I can train. In Australia, I had a lot of problems with training and sparring partners, but here I am starting to really prepare well, and spar, and in that way see much greater and more definitive progress.
ESB: One of the questions that some have asked regarding you, is that relative to the ordinary age of a boxer, you are passing into one where fighters usually start thinking about hanging Ďem up. Do you think that is one of the reasons why it is important to take a step towards serious fights right now?
Victor Oganov: No, no, I donít think about it as if my time has come and all that. Of course, at 20, I didnít think that I would be fighting at 30, but every person has their own fate and their own time. I feel great now. Like everybody, I had unsuccessful experiments with different managers, promoters, where it didnít allow me to get into top form. For that, you need a series of fights where you can feel your true strengths and fully master your style of fighting.
I know that I can be even better and that I just need to concentrate on my training and have time to reach my peak potential.
ESB: Right now the biggest and most important fight at your weight is Calzaghe vs. Kessler. Who do you think will win if they meet?
Victor Oganov: I think Calzaghe. Why? Well, first of all, when it doesnít concern me, I try not to involve myself in other business. When I donít fight, I like to take time away from boxing. Iím not an analyst, and I donít like to break down plans or what not, because in the end, it will depend on the two guys in the ring, anyway.
That said, personally, I lean towards Calzaghe. He is more emotional , more assertive, and it seems that whatever happens he can show more character in any situation. Kessler seems more cold-blooded, and calmer, and I just donít think he can add that much to his character. In other words, I donít see that many energetic bursts in his manner of fighting.
ESB: You want to say that if he will start losing he wonít try, or wonít be able, to adjust his game-plan?
Victor Oganov: Well, yeah, in other words I think the fight will be about even, maybe with a slight advantage for Calzaghe, with Kessler not being able to adapt.
ESB: Ok, tell us about your trainer Jeff Fenech. How are you working together?
Victor Oganov: I am happy with Jeff. I was really surprised by what a good trainer he is. When I trained at the Kostya Tsyzu boxing academy, I think I was a worse fighter than I am now. Itís possible that the training method there was wrong in the sense that, the workload there was huge, and while it seemed right at the time, that quantity doesnít bring in quality so to speak. I didnít exactly like that kind of an arrangement.
With Jeff, though, see, he gives me more attention and a lot more of his time, so much so that sometimes we even start getting on each otherís nerves. Even then, I think I am lucky because he doesnít have anybody right now and he can give more attention to me in particular.
I respect him as a trainer and as a boxer. He was a great fighter back then, especially as most people know, with his fights against Azumah Nelson, and others of course, and coincidentally a lot of characteristics in his style help me in my career. He is one of these former fighters who know boxing. He sees the whole fight in his head and can give good advice during it, and during sparring as well.
ESB: I read that Jeff thinks other Australian based fighters like Green and Mundine are afraid to get into the ring with you. Do you think so as well?
Victor Oganov: Of course, there is a risk. I wouldnít say they are afraid, because we are all fighters and people after all, but there is a risk against me, yes. I think that they are more businessmen and consider the amount they will earn versus the actual risk against a certain opponent. So if they only see a big risk in it, they wonít do it just so they can shut somebody up.
Otherwise there is just a risk, cause after all I do have a puncherís style.
ESB: Mundine is especially one of these guys who love to talk a lot. I remember before the fight with Ottke he was shouting that Ottkeís punch is no better then a little girlís. The result being that Svenís punch left him without consciousness. Do you think if Ottke could take him down that you could do much worse?
Victor Oganov: Well, I donít remember all the details about the punch and the little girl, but I do think if Ottke could do it, then I could do even better (laughing). I donít know how Ottke got the job done, maybe it was a miracle, though I do remember he got him in the temple. I saw the KO, of course. It was quite ironic (laughing).
ESB: Did you ever spar with Mundine?
Victor Oganov: No, but I did spar with Green when he was getting ready for the first fight with Markus Beyer. Danny is very self-confident, and Mundine like played a bad joke on him, and when Danny boxed against him, you could see that self-confidence, was his Achillesí heel, because he should have been craftier and not so straightforward. That is why Mundine sort of tricked him.
ESB: You are talking about him as if you are friends. What sort of relationship do you have?
Victor Oganov: With Green? Yeah, we have a mutual friend and have met a couple of times. I donít have anything against him, not him, nor Mundine, by the way. Even when we met a few times, I was surprised by how different he acts. Usually you know he yells to the whole country and has this talkative attitude. You know he makes it a show of sorts.
I treat everybody with respect, including my own as well as potential future opponents. I donít like to insult anybody or wind up before a fight.
ESB: In boxing, or rather in Western boxing, there is this understanding of ďGod Given Power.Ē In other words, punchers are born and arenít made in boxing gyms. Do you think that you were born with a strong punch, or that training, and trainerís advice helped you develop it much better.
Victor Oganov: Yeah, itís a natural characteristic, and I would even say that I donít think Iíve fully developed my potential.
ESB: Are you happy at this weight, or are there plans to jump a division higher?
Victor Oganov: Yeah, very much so, and I feel very good at this weight. I fought at different ones but, unquestionably, I am much faster at Super Middleweight. I would also add that muscle mass doesnít help speed.
ESB: Yeah, like we saw in the Ibragimov vs. Briggs fight, Shannon was really bothered by his own mass and moved much worse around the ring.
Victor Oganov: I didnít see the fight, was a little busy, but the rules in that division are completely different relative to weight. Of course, itís also true that Briggs is too big and gets tired and needs to drop a few kiloís.
ESB: For now, though, you donít have plans to move up or down in weight?
Victor Oganov: No, no, although I could fight with light-heavies if the money will be there and all that, but even then, I am quite short, and I donít think I would be as affective against those guys.
ESB: Did you ever think about a hypothetical fight where some opponent ďXĒ can take your shots and your only way out is to win on points?
Victor Oganov: Yeah, yeah, my dream is to win a fight on points. Honestly, that is what I train to do. You know, even though there are instances where I hit an opponent in the head and he can take the shot, I end up finishing him anyway due to accumulation. I basically hit anything, arms, body, wherever.
ESB: Itís interesting because your record shows that all your fights are recorded as won by TKO.
Victor Oganov: Is that based on the information off of boxrec? In truth, they make mistakes sometimes because even though I won via clean KO, they still record it as a TKO based victory.
ESB: Well, then I think the details arenít that important, because, for instance, if a guy is lying there unconscious, why should a referee give a count? There were these fights where a guy is lying motionless or, even indicating to the ref that he wonít get up and the ref still counts to 10. I mean why? Officially, it could have been a TKO win, where they just stopped it outright but could, theoretically, count to 20 even.
Victor Oganov: Yeah, yeah, as I mentioned, there were fights that were recorded as a TKO, while the guy was just completely down and out, and it was basically a clean KO.
ESB: Now some questions regarding your sparring: I read that while sparring against Paul Briggs, you broke his ribs. Can you tell us what happened?
Victor Oganov: I didnít break anything, that didnít happen. Again, somebody was just inflating things again, but I did not break any ribs. In fact, I am very appreciative and grateful to Paul because he helped me out very often when I boxed there, and I respect him and his trainer Johnny Lewis a great deal. We sparred three or four times but nobody broke anything. Matter of fact, somebody broke my ribs.
ESB: Ah, yes, I read that a guy named Lawrence Tuasa did it.
Victor Oganov: Yeah, Lawrence hit me in the wrong spot and I had to recuperate for a month, but thank God, I recovered and everything is fine now.
ESB: Who were your more famous sparring partners?
Victor Oganov: The most famous was probably Roma Karmazin. When I was in Germany, I worked with Arthur Abraham. Other then that, I can only remember that I did some rounds with Julio Gonzalez.
ESB: I read that you are often criticized for forgetting about defense in your fights. Would you call that fair?
Victor Oganov: No, why do I forget about defense? Thatís not true. Depending on how much I can feel the punches, and depending on how much my opponent allows me to do it, it may seem that way. Depending on how confident I am in myself, you know. I never forget about defense.
I donít want to glorify the idea that I somehow have this chin of granite and, ďHere you go, hit me as much as you want,Ē but I just try to feel out what I can get hit with and what I canít. For instance, if my opponent throws something you canít call a meaningful punch, and I open up a bit, or make a head movement, that may give the fans that sort of impression.
In fact, I treat this aspect of boxing very seriously and donít really like to get hit. Other then that I guess you can say that I need to work more and train and train.
ESB: Ok, now some questions regarding your amateur career. Who were some of your more famous opponents?
Victor Oganov: Well, not anybody too famous, but there is a guy now, Valeri Brudov, who is now boxing at just under 81 kg, who I fought three times. I won once and lost twice. We were like from the same area in Russia, Pskov region, and so he was my most famous opponent.
We are on good terms, and after I turned pro, he was still boxing amateur in St. Petersburg, and now boxes at Cruiserweight, right? Anyway, I wish him luck, and I have very fond memories about our amateur days.
Then there were some guys, who are probably not famous names, like Bagdashkin, Egor, multiple winner of the Russian national championships, and that is about it.
To be honest, my amateur career wasnít very successful. After all, I was from a secondary city, and didnít have as many opportunities, relatively speaking. I was at the national championships only twice and didnít do too well, losing in the first round bouts. I am very grateful to my first trainer, Fedor Laer, who also brought up and trained heavyweight Champion of the USSR, Vladimir Balai, who was also from our city. Then, at the 86 Goodwill Games, he came in second, and did beat future pro champ Michael Bent.
ESB: Even so, what is curious about your amateur career is this: in professional boxing there are instances where you see fighters who have all wins coming by KO, but for that boxer to also have all victories come by way of KO in amateur boxing, is probably completely unheard of at all.
Victor Oganov: Well, they werenít clean KOís, of course, stoppages, towels, two knockdown rule and all that because the rules were strictly enforced.
ESB: You know, still you sometimes see a guy who has 50% of his amateur wins by way of KO, and that is rare in itself, and says something about his power, but your KO percentage is 100%.
Victor Oganov: Well those are TKOís. In other words, yeah, that is my style and, of course, when I land, itís over (laughing).
ESB: Do you think itís harder to drop somebody in amateur boxing?
Victor Oganov: Yeah, I think itís harder, but again there are different rules there and you canít even do it all the time. Always a break in the action, or a pause, or the ref giving a warning, and it makes it harder to finish somebody sometimes.
In a practical sense, itís a different sport, different judging standards, and really it was hard for me to win on points cause I threw fewer punches but they were heavy. At the same time, my opponents piled up the points with weak shots.
ESB: I pose this question to all ex-Soviet fighters whom I interview: Who do you think is the greatest Soviet era boxer of all time and why?
Victor Oganov: Good God, what a question. If I was very knowledgeable in this subject area, maybe I could give a worthy answer, but, unfortunately, I donít know too much about it. WellÖ..(deep breath) probably our Olympic champs, many of whom, living and not, I heard about in my younger days. Popenchenko, was a very extraordinary fighter, then Victor Ageev, who was very talented.
ESB: I think everyone meets one personality, one name, that leaves the deepest impression.
Victor Oganov: Well, Kostya Tsyzu did a lot, or not really that he did something unbelievable, but the one who was recognized for it so to speak. We parted ways, but even so, as a boxer he has to be given his dues, in the later years at least.
I really liked Lebzyak when he boxed. More so, actually, the manner in which he communicated with other people left a pleasant impression. Then when he won a Gold Medal, Oleg Saitov, who I show great respect for that accomplishment. I canít say there is a particular leader, because I am respectful towards everybody. Yura Aleksandrov, a special fighter, who is doing something related to boxing even now. We have a lot of good guys in Russia, including those who accomplish things through hard work, or through talent, but I canít say that I have one single leader or even one idol.
It also depends on the guyís image, because a guy can be a victim of that, and only something you see personally can be considered the very best.
ESB: Well then maybe I should change the question a bit and ask who you liked the best, and who made the greatest impression on you.
Victor Oganov: Even then, I can't say because I started late in boxing and saw very few of our fighters. I saw Kurnyavka and others, and, of course, I was happy when they won, but from the older guys, I did not see much of their archived bouts. Maybe if I could watch them now, I could realistically say, 'oh, yeah, he was really the best.' I donít know...You are giving me this riddle to solve.
ESB: (Laughing) Yeah, I understand, but even so everyone names one person, like Timur Ibragimov said Lemeshev, Dima Kirrilov said Popenchenko, Vasili Jirov named Korolev. Just those fighters they read about, heard about, saw, and remembered more so than others.
Victor Oganov: Korolev, yeah, that is another name, of course. In fact, I will say Korolev, because a person like that who fought in and survived the war, and even boxed well afterwards, and tried to challenge Joe Louis to a fight, yeah? That in reality is the type of character, that deserves such a rank.
Yeah, I will name Korolev, and you do have to give him his due, for trying to organize a professional bout of such caliber at that point in time. Then he had that series of bouts against Shotzikas, who was either a professor,or a graduate student in a university, and that just begs respect.
ESB: You are the second fighter, who I am speaking with in the last few weeks, who is supposedly acquainted with Mike Tyson.
Victor Oganov: No, no, I donít know him. Jeff knows him and they are friends, and I heard he is a good guy, a regular person, but I donít know him.
In my youth, I was very impressed with him, and I never thought that when I become older I would even have the opportunity to meet him.
ESB: As I understand it, you have Armenian roots, right? This is probably not something that is known to many Armenian Americans, the Diaspora of which is quite large here. Do you think that will help draw Armenian fight fans to your bouts?
Victor Oganov: Yeah, my dad is Armenian. Of course, I have Armenian blood in me, and that is something that is very evident in my character, especially in the ring and in my style of fighting.
ESB: You know, all Armenian fighters are really considered punchers in a sense. For instance, Vakhtang ďVicĒ Darchinyan, and then Arthur Abraham. In other words itís something that characterizes Armenian fighters. I just never heard of them being fighters like a Spinks, for example.
Victor Oganov: Well, Vic in fact is very technical too, plus he has a very good left, a very strong punch. Besides which he estimates distance in the ring very well, and that is why he can be so affective in his style.
ESB: You know I donít think enough people give him his due. Some say he works in only one dimension, which isnít really fair because he is very unique in his style and does many little things in the ring. All fighters work in one dimension if he does. I mean, he has his personal stance and way of figting, like all good fighters, so in that sense all the best guys of past and present were one-dimensional.
Victor Oganov: He is very uncomfortable to fight, of course. He has his own style, heís a lefty, and that is not valued correctly. He dominates greatly at his weight.
ESB: I wanted to ask you about your family, and kids.
Victor Oganov: Yep. Well, my wife, Svetlana, a little younger, and from my town of Syktyvkar, is a very good person and I am lucky to have her. My daughter, Anna, will soon be seven, while my son, Semyon, named in honor of grandfather and father, is one and a half, and was born in Australia. I am very happy with them and love my kids and wife deeply. They are the closest people to me and I worry about them all the time.
My brotherís called Armen (laughing) which is a very Armenian name. He lives and works in Moscow now. My mom lives in Syktyvkar.
ESB: With which famous fighters are you friends?
Victor Oganov: Well, Vakhtang, besides being a great boxer, is a close friend of mine. That I came to Australia, and that I liked it there, is really his doing. If he was not there, I probably wouldnít have come back a second or third time. We are really close friends.
I grew up in Russia, and had these impressions regarding people in different social groups, you know in Russian, and in Armenian ones. However, when I met him he just exceeded all my expectations regarding people in general. Neither among Armenians, nor Russians, can you meet a person of such quality. He has a heart made of gold and is a very good friend. From the bottom of my soul I am profoundly grateful that I met him and have the honor of calling him my friend.
That he is such a fighter, and champion, and so strong, to me personally does not mean a whole lot. For me the most important thing is our relationship.
Then who else? I canít say that among my circle of acquaintances there are other famous fighters, but there are guys who I am on good terms with. For example Kolya Valuev.
Also, even though he is not a boxer, I have to unquestionably mention the support I get from Eduard Gumashian. I am living at his place now, and he completely helps me, watches out for me, drives me everywhere, does the necessary massages, and other similar procedures. Right now, he manages Vakhtang (Vic), Vadim Tokarev, and Rustam Nugaev, but besides that also voluntarily works as my advisor here, and I am very grateful and thankful to him for it.
ESB: Victor, I think we discussed a lot with you today. Anything to add or pass along to our readers from all over the world, on both our Russian and English web-sites?
Victor Oganov: Yeah, in reality I love Russia, and last year, when I parted ways with Kostya, I went back for half a year, and am very happy with my homeland. I love Russia, and when I hear people speak ill of it, it gets to me a little, but when people praise it, it feels good. I donít know where I will live but time will tell.
Although I do want to add that I am very grateful to Australia and its people too. In Russia it is harder to develop a professional career and at the moment there are less opportunities there. In Australia though it is easier and that is why I am grateful to it as well.
ESB: Victor, we will you luck and further success.
Although Victor did not sign with Fight Academy and Stuart Duncan, I have to thank them for helping me contact him.
I would also like to thank Victorís wife Svetlana for sending me the pictures of Victor you see throughout this article.
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