Oleg Maskaev Talks About Samuel Peter, The Klitschko Brothers And More

oleg maskaev08.08.07 - Interview by James Slater: Coming across as both relaxed and confident, WBC heavyweight champ Oleg Maskaev, who has boxed the overwhelming majority of his fights in America, says he will not be intimidated or at all phased when he faces once-beaten powerhouse Samuel Peter in mid-ring in Madison Square Garden on October 6th. After winning the title so late in his career, Oleg really is a fighter who is massively determined to hold onto it for some time yet.

Here is what the Kazakhstan-born WBC king had to say as I spoke to him over the phone earlier today.

James Slater: Firstly, Oleg, you must be happy the fight is finally set after all the delays that went on?

Oleg Maskaev: Yes. There were many problems leading up to the fight, but none of them were because of me, you know? I was ready to fight someone. Whether it was Vitali Klitschko or Samuel Peter. I was ready and looking forward to a fight..

J.S: Ideally, who would you have liked to have faced - Peter or Klitschko?

O.M: Well, a fight with Klitschko would have made me much more money. I mean, who would you have rather fought? You want to make the most money you can, yes? I want to fight the best, also. It was up to the WBC [who he boxed next] either Klitschko, who wanted the fight at first and was awarded it, but then pulled out, or Peter. I was always ready, whoever it was. Now I'm in camp for Samuel Peter and I'm getting stronger each day.

J.S: Are you happy that the fight is taking place in Madison Square Garden, in New York?

O.M: I will fight wherever. I'm a professional, so it doesn't matter. It's not the place you fight at that counts. But yes, I'm happy to be fighting in New York. There is a big Russian community here and hopefully they will all come to the fight to support me.

J.S: A lot of people say Sam Peter is the hardest puncher out there at heavyweight, do you agree?

O.M: I really couldn't say right now. People say such things to sell a fighter. I don't know yet if it's true. But Oleg Maskaev will find out on October 6th (Laughs).

J.S: Who will you be sparring with for the Peter fight?

O.M: Oh, I will be sparring with fighters that match his [Peter's] style. But I can't tell you any names right now. I'm not allowed to give away any of our secrets. After the fight I will tell you, but I don't want to give away any of our game plan now.

J.S: Who is training you right now, Oleg?

O.M: Victor Valle Junior is my trainer. He is a great trainer and I have a much better team behind me now. I don't want to talk about my old team. They were not behind me as much as my present team are. I'm at one hundred percent now, with my new team.

J.S: Talking about that bad patch you had a few years back, with losses to Kirk Johnson and Lance Whittaker. How did you manage to turn your career around so well?

O.M: Again, it was because of my new team. Also, when I was younger I had physical strength, but not spiritual strength. Right now, Oleg Maskaev has spiritual strength and experience. I have the discipline from my saviour Jesus Christ and from the blessing of my family. I am also a very clean fighter, I have never taken any drugs. I am dedicated and stronger than ever before.

J.S: You looked great in beating Hasim Rahman for the second time. Do you feel that second fight was your finest ever performance?

O.M: I knew Rahman would be tired and ready to be knocked out in the later rounds. I knew he'd be weak in the last two or three rounds. But the first fight with Rahman was a lot harder. That was a very tough fight. It's hard to pick just one fight as my best, all fights are different in their own way. With the [Kirk] Johnson fight, I had him hurt in the first round. He was ready to be taken out. But in round two I made a mistake and left myself open. I was close to quitting the sport after that fight. Even my trainer then, Bob Jackson, said he had given up on and me and that it was time for Oleg Maskaev to retire. But I took some time off and now I'm looking ahead to keeping my WBC title and continuing to defend it.

J.S: Are you surprised that there is not one single American heavyweight champ and that you guys from the east have seemingly taken over?

O.M: I'm not really surprised. We always had good fighters in Russia, we just never had the great trainers. Nowadays we all have the opportunity to go overseas and get good training. We always had strong fighters, though.

J.S: Aside from yourself, who is the best heavyweight out there right now?

O.M: Wladimir Klitschko is a very good fighter. He has a long reach and has power. He has his confidence back now, too. He's proved himself I think. But then again, it's never easy to predict anything in boxing. You can be on top
one minute, and then one punch later, it's all over for you.

J.S: Can you talk about the story regarding you knocking Vitali Klitschko out some years ago?

O.M: Yes, I beat Vitali as an amateur. I didn't knock him out, but I beat him in one round - his trainer threw the towel in because I was hurting him so badly. He [Vitali] doesn't want to talk about it, but he knows it happened. I would love to fight him again, to prove I can beat him.

J.S: Going back to the Peter fight. What type of fight do you expect?

O.M: I am expecting a war. I've just got to make sure that Oleg Maskaev is one hundred percent when he gets into the ring, and I know I will be. We never know for sure, though [the outcome of a fight] only God knows. We are only people down here and everything is up to him.

Article posted on 09.08.2007

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