ESB Exclusive Interview With Alex And Arthur Abraham
11.05.06 - By Izyaslav ďSlavaĒ Koza: Picture it if you can: A German boxing ring, in a crowded auditorium. A tall opponent named Kingsley Ikeke and the soon to be champ Arthur Abraham still to make his ring walk. The music begins to play and Abraham, dressed in the traditional garb of what can best be described as a large smurf (basically just the white hat) makes his way to the ring. On his face is one of the most serious, focused scowls I, and many other fans have ever seen. All the while Pierre Kartner, aka Father Abraham, a guy eerily similar to jolly old St Nicholas Klause, belts away his European chart topper ďThe Smurf Song,Ē accompanied by three hot chicks, dressed like female smurfs and painted blue. The best way to define the whole affair is psychedelically surreal. There was no metal, or rap, no artificial extra emotion, rather only authentic elation coming from the Armenian native, who was overjoyed at getting a chance to fight for a major world title, and wanted to share that moment with all the fans who came out to support him, by representing the characters, described in one of Germanyís biggest pop hits..
Article posted on 12.05.2006
Though the heavyweight scene is where most observers begin to notice the dominance of former Soviet fighters, that dominance is not exclusive to that weight alone. Arthur, as well as his undefeated younger brother, Alex, along with Roman Karmazin, Sergei Dzindziruk and a slew of others represent the next class of fighter in the intermediate weights.
This Saturday Arthur will once again don the Smurf hat, and with the same joyous determination that won him the belt he will defend, represent his tiny yet proud homeland of Armenia. His opponent will be tough power punching Kofi Jantuah a name familiar to American fans, and a fighter who will take advantage of the bout if Abraham is not on top of his game.
Last week I spoke with both Arthur, and Alex, on this upcoming fight as well as other related boxing issues and none boxing issues. Here is the gist of that conversation.
ESB: Good Evening Arthur! First of all thanks for your time.
Arthur: Sure no problem.
ESB: Tell us how has your life changed after you captured one of the major titles?
Arthur: Well nothing much has changed, I remained the same person I was before I won the belt. Earnings changed a bit obviously. The press bothers me a bit more now, people ask for autographs, newspapers call more often. This has changed but I am still the same person I was. Oh and there is more training now (laughs).
ESB: Can you tell us how the preparation for the fight is coming along?
Arthur: Its brutally tough. Every day only sparring, my arms are almost falling off. Sometimes they hurt so much I donít have the strength to punch. I have such a huge work load.
ESB: Can you say who youíre sparring with? How many rounds of sparring have you done?
Arthur: I have a bunch of different sparring partners not just the same few. Boxed against somebody from America today but I donít know his name. Knocked him out though. Good fighter something like 24 wins in 27 fights. I just canít remember all their names. Every day or two I spar with new guys.
As far as rounds well I did eight today, tomorrow I will do eight. So far something like 6,8 a day.
ESB: Your next opponent, Jantuah, is also from Africa like Ikeke but unlike Kingsley he has a puncherís reputation. What do you think about him as an opponent and fighter?
Arthur: Of course he is a strong opponent, but no matter how strong they are, I donít get in the ring, to lose or just win. It doesnít matter if he is a puncher or a technical fighter because he will be standing in my way and whoever does that I have to get around them and win. His style of fighting is not relevant.
ESB: If you win your next opponent will most likely be Colombian Edison Miranda? Will this fight take place in Germany as well?
Arthur: Its too early to say if the fight will be in Germany. First we will try to win this fight and then we will consider how and where the fight will be set up. To me it doesnít matter really where the fight takes place since I am always ready and always have to win.
ESB: It is obvious to most that the capital of boxing, at least for your weight, is America. Are there any concrete plans or negotiations with some of our America promoters to set up a fight or fights here?
Arthur: Sure! My manager has already been in contact and negotiating with HBO. They have been interested for awhile, but also I donít want all the exposure and everything right away. I want to build up slowly, step by step. If you can understand I just donít want all the fame right away.
ESB: Well that leads into my next question then, regarding if you would be ready to face Wright, Taylor or Hopkins right away or would youÖÖ
Arthur: (interrupting) I am always ready to fight with Taylor or Hopkins. If they call me tonight and say, ďtommorow your fighting with one of them,Ē I will be there ready to fight with one of them.
ESB: Well then speaking of the elites can you tell us who you think will win the following fights: Taylor-Wright?
Arthur: I think Winky Wright will win. He is much more sound technically and I think he will pressure Taylor constantly and not give him a good chance to compose himself and fire back. I think Wright will win.
ESB: How about Tarver Hopkins?
Arthur: Really? When?
ESB: I donít have the date off the top of my head but it is signed definitely.
Arthur: Well then I donít know, but I think Tarver will win. Hopkins is old already and really he is looking more so to make big money. He wonít be able to break Tarver with his name.
ESB: If you wonít be able to breakthrough to America in the near future, then it seems likely you will fight some Kohl fighters. Can you comment on a fight with Felix Sturm or perhaps your countryman Khoren Gevorgyan? What do you think about them as boxers?
Arthur: My manager already tried to set up a fight with Sturm. He offered them one million Euros for the fight with me and they refused. Now they are negotiating manager to manager, and they will try to agree to something.
ESB: How about Gevorgyan? Are you friends with him?
Arthur: Gevorgyan? Well he isnít a champ or that famous yet, so it wonít be that interesting to fight him now. I am friends with him though. I know all the Armenians here, we are always in contact. Talk on the phone often.
ESB: Who do you think is Pound for Pound right now and why?
Arthur: (without hesitation) Mayweather because he is strong, fast, and a good puncher. He is very good, and I like his style very much. One has to try really hard to become a fighter like Mayweather. He is very professional, and he has and knows how to do it all.
ESB: Whenever I, or other writers ask fighters from the former USSR, if they would like to compete professionally in their homeland, the answer is always negative due to financial reasons. If you achieve the necessary success in Germany or America, would you like to fight in Erevan, even if the money might not be as good?
Arthur: Of course! That is my goal. Of course I want to fight in Armenia, that is my homeland, and I will fight there one day. However like I said, I just became champion, and I donít want to move and do everything too fast. Little by little we will move towards and fight in Erevan. If I fight there we will probably gather up a whole stadium full of people. Everyone loves us at home, my brother and myself, and that is why we really want to box there.
ESB: At what age did you start boxing and why?
Arthur: I started at 15. When I watched boxing on TV back then, I saw these champions of the world, and how they were sitting on the shoulders of their corner men. I always wanted the same to happen to me. How they cried, and celebrated with pure joy, when they first became champions. It was very emotional and touching for me inside, and I always wanted to be there, celebrating just like them. I promised myself I would became champion of the world before my 25th birthday and my dream has come true.
ESB: Who were some of your favorite fighters back then, both national and international?
Arthur: Mike Tyson, but only the young Tyson, when he was killing everybody. Not the shadow of him now that fought later and recently, but when he was young.
I also like Kostya Tsyzu. I really respect him and think he was a terrific boxer.
ESB: Are you acquainted with Kostya?
Arthur: No I am not. Germany is far away from Australia (laughs). I think we will meet one day, when the time comes we will meet.
ESB: Ok now the important question: whoís idea was it to pick the Smurf Song for your entrance music?
Arthur: Well my name is Abraham too. The guy who sings it is a musician called Papa Abraham, and itís a very popular song in Germany. Everybody loves it, its how do you say it, like a national sensation. All the little kids and adults love this song, so it was very good for my image. So the song was chosen for me, and that is why I am becoming more of a household name, and why I am popular here.
ESB: Yea its very interesting and funny to see you with the hat and the blue female smurf entourage. Have you ever watched the cartoon. I remember it when I was a kid.
Arthur: Yea of course! Itís a cartoon, I watch everything. Thing is everybody does and goes to see hip hop, or metal, and nobody will put on the same type of show. It all becomes similar and boring. I am the only one who does it this way, and that is why its so interesting (laughs) and why everybody watches, and is delighted. When I enter the arena everybody stands up and starts to sing and clap and wave their hands and cheer for me.
ESB: What do you like to do in your free time outside the ring?
Arthur: Good question, in my free time the first thing I donít want to do is train, and I donít want to hear anything about the sport. I fly to Erevan, there I spend time with my parents, friends, or my brother or with a girl. I donít drink, or smoke. I go to places where I can spend time and be happy.
ESB: What kind of music do you listen to and like?
Arthur: Different stuff, Armenian, Russian lounge pop, Russian techno, I really like Irina Allegrova. Oh and I like Hip Hop, American black music. I like 50 cent, not everything, but most of them.
ESB: Tell us about your family. Kids? Girlfriend?
Arthur: No I am not married and donít have kids, live with my brother have a few girls I know.
ESB: Alright now I will ask you some questions about your brother and then after I talk to him I will ask him the same ones about you.
Arthur: Yea sure go ahead.
ESB: When you were small did you fight a lot? If so who got the better of who?
Arthur: When we were small we did fight, but not a lot. I donít remember who won we were small, it wasnít serious fighting, the way brothers usually fight when they are young. However, that was then now we are living in peace. We are together 24/7, only now we sleep in different rooms (laughs).
ESB: Do you spar against each other now?
Arthur: We have never sparred against each other in our lives. We will never spar or fight against each other.
ESB: Whoís side did your parents take when you two argued?
Arthur: I donít remember but usually back then they watched out for the younger ones, so that the older one doesnít do something to them.
ESB: Alex is younger then you?
Arthur: Yea my brother is a year and a half younger.
ESB: can you name one habit of your brother that you canít stand and that drives you nuts?
Arthur: (laughs) When we are home: Computer, Internet, Television, Stereo with music, and the phone is on too. PLUS he eats at the same time. We come home everything goes on right away. He is my brother though we can live together.
ESB: The Klitschko brothers claim they will never fight against each other because they promised their mother. Did you make the same sort of promise?
Arthur: No we didnít promise anybody we were just raised that way that we wonít consider it. How can I seriously fight my brother? How can I hit him?
ESB: No I understand. How about say hypothetically if such a fight were to happen can you analyze it and give a prediction?
Arthur: No it will never happen there just isnít an answer to that.
ESB: Arthur thanks for your time. Now if its possible can I speak with Alex?
Arthur: Sure! No problem. I will get him.
ESB: Hey Alex!
ESB: Can you tell us from an independent perspective how your brother is looking in training?
Alex: He is training superbly. He is feeling really good right now, and I think the American will feel the result.
ESB: Will you be in his corner for the fight?
Alex: No I will be sitting at ringside, but I will have a chance to give advice as necessary.
ESB: When will your next fight be?
Alex: My last bout was a week ago when Klitschko fought. Right now there is no information about my next fight but I think I will fight next sometime in August.
ESB: The only half blemish on your record is against Silvan Gomis a fight that ended in a draw. Can you tell us what happened?
Alex: Well I fought him again after that and won. First time we fought I was really sick and felt terrible the night of the fight. Then we lined up a repeat and I won without any major problems. I took all the rounds easily.
ESB: When did you start boxing and what was your amateur record?
Alex: I started at fifteen like Arthur. I had about 70 fights, something like 62 wins 8 losses.
ESB: Which fighters did you like back then?
Alex: Arthur and I loved Tyson back then he was awesome. Now I like Joe Calzaghe he is a very good fighter.
ESB: Can you give us your thoughts on who will win between Karmazin and Spinks? Also who of the elite fighters in your division would you like to fight if you could?
Alex: I think Karmazin will probably win. If I could I would fight the WBO champ Sergei Dzindziruk.
ESB: What do you like to do in your free time?
Alex: (laughs) I like to go to Armenia there is a lot to do there.
ESB: What type of music do you like?
Alex: Everything! A lot of the stuff they show on Russian MTV here. Armenian music, Russian music.
ESB: Can you name some of the artists you like?
Alex: HMmm I likeÖ.AllegrovaÖÖ or Pugachova. Oh and Shufutinsky he sings a lot of good songs.
ESB: What about movies?
Alex: I like movies with John Reno, and also Scarface. Tony Montana (laughs).
ESB: Ha! Al Pacino.
ESB: I read your trying to help your parents move to Germany how is that coming along?
Alex: Yea we are trying to help the and hopefully soon they will join us here. We have to get them German documents and then everything will be cool.
ESB: Now I will ask you some questions about Arthur if you donít mind.
Alex: Yea sure.
ESB: When you were younger and fought each other who won?
Alex: Easy. Arthur was bigger I was smaller you get it.
ESB: Whoís side did your parents take in arguments?
Alex: Well parents defended me cause I was smaller (laughs)
ESB: Do you like the song your brother enters the ring to?
Alex: If there is a large crowd and they are into it and like it then we like it too, if no then itís a different matter. Its good because it promotes him, a lot of people in Europe know his name cause of it. Our first job is to box, but it is also important besides that to give the viewers a good show.
ESB: Can you name a habit of your brotherís that you donít like that much?
Alex: (chuckles) No I like everything about him. We live together peacefully. We are always together.
ESB: Alex I want to thank you and Arthur for taking the time to talk with us. I wish him luck on Saturday and you as well in the future.
Alex: Sure! No problem. Thanks for calling.
As always I want to thank Heiko Mallwitz for helping set this interview up, and another thanks to both Alex and Arthur for talking to us from training camp. Good luck to Arthur on Saturday and here is to hoping HBO decides to pick up his fights so everybody in the boxing world benefits.
photos © www.boxen.com
previous article: Corrales - Castillo Trilogy Available at iTunes Music Store
next article: Kevin Mitchell Plans East End Knees Up