Vladimir ‘Midnight Train’ Chanturia Fighting in Belfast Tonight on Team Alio Card

By Brendan Galbraith - According to the former IOC President Juan Samarach (recently deceased), the 2000 Olympics in Sydney were the ‘best ever games’. It depends on what criteria is employed to make such a bold judgement, but the Sydney 2000 games were certainly spectacular and they were filled with memorable sporting moments such as Cathy Freeman’s electrifying 400 metre success and ‘the battle of the pool’ starring Ian Thorpe. The boxing wasn’t bad either.

The location of the boxing was in the beautiful, sunny setting of Darling Harbour that boasts a stunning backdrop of skyscrapers, the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.. Prominently located here is the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, host to five Olympics events at the 2000 Games, including weight lifting, fencing, wrestling, judo and boxing. Inside the auditorium to witness the boxing were greats such as Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield. On show in their heavyweight division, was future WBO Champion Sultan Ibragimov, who would later outpoint Holyfield in the first defence of his WBO title, and WBA World Champion Ruslan Chagaev.

Vladimir ‘Midnight Train’ Chanturia (12-1), who makes his first appearance as a pro in Belfast at the Holiday Inn on the Alio Promotion, fought both Chagaev and Ibragimov in the 2000 Games. He comprehensively beat Chagaev 18-12 in the quarter final, even managing to drop Chagaev en route to his points win. In the semi final he lost 19 – 14 to Sultan Ibragimov (who later lost to Cuban Felix Savon in the final). Chanturia won a bronze medal in the Sydney Games and a promising future beckoned. It wasn’t until 2006 that Chanturia converted to the paid ranks and after nine wins in his native Georgia, he fought another five times in Ukraine, the most recent being a controversial loss to Vladimir Lazebnik in November 2008.

Chanturia’s new manager, Gary Hyde said: “In his last fight he got robbed blind and he got rightly pissed off and after that he showed interest and wanted someone genuine to work with, so I decided to put some time into him and get him over here.”

Corkman Hyde is very enthusiastic about his new signing:

“I am absolutely delighting with him. He puts so much into everything and he is so humble. He is like a blank canvas. He will take everything in. He will be shown things once and its like he is doing it all his life. He is just bursting at the seams to learn. He is fantastic all round. He is like a throwback to the 1930’s, he is just a fantastic guy and I am delighted working with him.”

As a measure of how highly Hyde rates Chanturia, he has offered his fighter to face Chisora a few weeks ago (at a time when Chisora didn’t have opponent) and more recently he offered Chanturia to face Danny Williams (when he heard Sexton had pulled out of the fight) - however, at that time Williams had just be matched to face Chisora.

Hyde admitted it was “a bit brave of me to offer him to Chisora and Williams as Chanturia is only about 20% or 15% of what he can be in terms of conditioning.”
However, Hyde enthused: “when he is even 80% of what he can be – he wouldn’t be in a ring with either of those [Chisora and Williams]. He is just so talented.”

Still, that has not stopped ambitious Hyde to get his charge in the ring with quality opponents. He made it clear that he would match Chanturia with David Price if he could get promoter, Frank Maloney to agree.

So what type of fighter is Chanturia?

“He is very, very aggressive – he is like a Joe Frazier kind of style bobbing and weiving and he is attacking, keeping very busy. He is just non-stop punching.
He is still very amateurish – he is still throwing arm-punches. He has never had a professional coach ever.”

“Now, he is training with Paul McCullough and Tony Dunlop and they are tightening up his head punches. And already he is knocking people out with arm punches. When he gets his body into shape he will do serious damage, he has huge shoulders and as he has bags of power.”

“He had his first spar in 18 months and he was sloppy. Ok, but sloppy. I feared that he might have been worse (for being so inactive). But, in his second day of sparring (in Dublin) he sparred the same opponent and stopped him in two rounds. The guy just wouldn’t carry on. He just said “I am outta here”. Vladimir was just weighing into him with big, big punches – he is a big hearted fighter. I have great hopes for him.

So what are Hyde’s immediate plans for Chanturia?

“He is in Belfast at the moment until he is fights on the Belfast show. He needs some conditioning work done with him now, he has obviously been inactive for the last 18 months – so we are going to get some good conditioning work done with him. Then he going to the States at probably the end of June. We are getting huge interest over there – they are just mad for him over there. When he gets over to the States he will be in the right shape.”

“Chanturia could possibly be headed to the West coast or east to Philidelphia as there are a few Georgian’s fighting out of Philidelphia and he knows them. There is a good Georgian community in Phillidelphia. I have applied for his US visa and we see no problems whatsoever of him getting that.”

“I am going to get him fighting again at the end of May, I am just going to see what is available. I will take one fight at a time. I will get this one out of the way first. I will get him a fight at the end of May in England or more closer to home.”

Hyde added: “I have loads of confidence (in Chanturia). He is a big hearted fighter. He has a fantastic attitude – he has a very mental approach to training and fighting. He is a tough, hard man.”

Tonight in his first pro fight in Belfast, Chanturia faces Hungarian Sandor Forgacs (5-18). This is a last minute change to the schedule as Chanturia was originally matched to face Poland’s Tomasz Zeprzalka, who unexpectedly went the distance with one of Hyde’s former signings, Cuban prospect Mike Perez.

Hyde’s has another fighter making his pro debut on the Alio card in Belfast tonight, featherweight, Paddy McGarrity:

“Paddy hasn’t much amateur experience, he has 25 fights. He is good kid. We brought him down to Cork and he sparred with Willie Casey. He has been sparring with Carl Frampton. He is holding his own with that type of company.

“So, hopefully he will be impressive on the night. Onwards and upwards for Paddy as well. He is a very hard trainer and a good kid so I said we will just put a bit of time into him.”

This is the second collaboration Hyde has had with Team Alio, so is this arrangement likely to continue?

“Definitely. Belfast is the new place for boxing in the whole country. I just going up there and mingling with the old time boxers and the gyms up there, there is always plenty of sparring and good craic up there. Yeah, I will definitely have a good relationship up there and I plan to keep that going.”

Tonight’ Team Alio Promotion in the Holiday Inn, Befast will be headlined by East Belfast’s Luke Wilton (6-2-1) who will face Bulgarian Sali Mustafov (0-4).

Other fights on the card are:

Luke Wilton v Sali Mustafov (flyweight)
Vladimir Chanturia v Sandor Forgacs (heavyweight)
Brian Cussack v James Tucker (light heavyweight)
Ryan Greene v Ryan Clark (light middleweight)
Paul Kayes v Norredine Dahou (light flyweight)
Paddy McGarrity v Dan Carr (super featherweight)
Phillip Townley v Rick Boulter (middleweight)

Article posted on 08.05.2010

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