Roman Karmazin - Exclusive Interview

Karmazin07.07.06 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza, photos by David Martin-Warr / For SHOWTIME - As I walked my dog along the street parallel to my house, I contemplated the interview I had just conducted with current IBF light middleweight champion, Roman Karmazin, ahead of his scheduled bout against Cory Spinks this Saturday (SHOWTIME 10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed in the west coast) in St. Louis. This will be Roman Karmazin’s first big bout on an English language American channel and, to me, seems like his reward for the tough road he had to climb in order to reach the top.

Now that I think about it, really,if I was trying to focus in on the brief introduction, I would give before everyone got to reading what Roman actually said. My mind kept going back to the last thing he and I discussed before the customary goodbye and good luck. I kept going back to those fierce words regarding his deceased trainer Igor Lebedev, “I will tell you something, honestly, if I would still have him in my corner, I would never, come close to losing to anybody. EVER!” I kept going back to them because, I knew I had heard similar ones once before.

Most real boxing fans know the story of Mike Tyson and Cus Damato, but they are just now starting to learn the one of Roman Karmazin and his mentor Igor Lebedev..

Let me say that the purpose of the comparison is not to belittle Iron Mike’s accomplishment or value as a fighter, but rather to emphasize Roman Karmazin’s. Mike Tyson has unquestionably left one of the biggest, and most positive (in terms of attention) marks on the sport of boxing, even though as he believes once Damato died he lost himself as a fighter. Many fans believe this, too, and still love Tyson for overcoming the hard life and rising to the top of boxing history with Cus at his side.

When it came time for Roman Karmazin to do the same, he had to do it without his mentor. Consider that while Tyson, through no fault of his own, was not able to hold on to the teachings of Cus in the ring after Damato’s death, Roman Karmazin, as you shall see, never came close to letting Lebedev’s teachings slip away. He held on to them tighter than we hold on to a dear relative or friend before a particularly long goodbye and time apart.

Roman Karmazin honored the work his mentor Igor Mikhailovich Lebedev put into him to the fullest, and that is one of the best and biggest things that makes him so special as a fighter. I hope you enjoy reading this interview (or as some have begun to realize “conversation”) as much as I enjoyed conducting it.

ESB: Good Evening Roman! Steven (Roman’s manager Steven Bash) said today was your last real sparring session?

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, all the hard stuff is behind me, and now the fight is the only thing that is left.

ESB: Who were some of your sparring partners?

Roman Karmazin: You know there were many of them but the best was this young kid here, very talented, who fights out of both stances, but who worked as a lefty with me. That was Arman Sargosyan, Armenian last name, and he is a very good kid, who has a bright future, and he helped more then any of my other sparring partners.

ESB: Most important question I have regarding the fight is when will we know, and will Freddy Roach be in your corner?

Roman Karmazin: Well, we are hoping that he will come over, but if he will, then, by the 6th, he should already be in St. Louis.

ESB: As you noted after the Ouma fight, Roach didn’t just help you, but also protected you to some degree from the referee. If Roach won’t be able to make it, will you have an experienced American corner man who will be able to replace Roach in that sense?

Roman Karmazin: Yes, absolutely, he helped me a great deal because the referee, I don’t know why, wanted to take a point away, and so it was obvious he was not on my side, so he absolutely helped. He told him, “Listen, he isn’t holding him, why are you bothering him?” and the ref left me alone. I was afraid to bend my elbows, otherwise it seemed like I was holding him again. I was just dropping my hands or holding them, like that when we were in close. So I was really scared, cause I thought that they would definitely take a point away.

I don’t think we will have somebody but I am hoping that Roach will be there. Otherwise, we will try to make do without him. What can you do? We will try to win, in any case. To be honest, I am going there, knowing the judges won’t be on my side, and everyone will be against me, and that motivates me even more. I know I have to be even better, stronger, faster, and I will be exactly that. I have all of Russia behind me, as well as three kids at home.

ESB: Actually, I did want to ask some questions about your kids and family until later. Now, though, against Mayorga, your opponent Spinks, in the minds of many, including myself, used a very sly tactic in the later championship rounds. In order to run the clock, he would fall, pretending it was a slip, and that way did not give Mayorga any chances to work. Do you have…

Roman Karmazin: (interrupting) To be honest with you, the same will happen with me, as he will try to do everything possible and impossible in order to stand upright all twelve rounds. They won’t be giving me a points win, of course. However, as I said, I won’t fight him, but instead try to box him. I will try to win on points, but if I get the chance to hit him I will finish him. You know, if I try to come out looking for the KO, like Mayorga, it will never happen and that is a rule of boxing. I can’t come out and think only about the fact that I have to knock him out, or I will lose, because in that case, I will never knock him out.

ESB: You know, I have heard that from many fighters, Povetkin, including many others. Now, Spinks arrived at a very key moment because you had problems with finding a potential opponent.

Roman Karmazin: Yes, definitely, but again, that all depended on my promoter, not me. I was ready to fight anybody, the reason it’s Spinks, to be honest, is because that is who offered the most money. Against other guys, I was being offered so little money, that to fight would mean to disrespect myself.

ESB: Yes, I wanted to ask, were you ready to fight with, like, any sort of bum, just to not be out of the ring for so long?

Roman Karmazin: Well, I was ready to fight against anybody, and signed to fight several King fighters, as well as Quartey, when Forrest had backed out. But guys like Garcia, who was the WBA champion at the time and Santos, who was the WBO champion at the time, either refused to fight or priced themselves out of a fight.

ESB: Better to train instead?

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, of course, it was just depressing to enter the ring.

ESB: Roman, your friend, Nikolai Valuev, told us a while ago in an interview that you are learning English. How is that coming along?

Roman Karmazin: Absolutely, I am going to school, only now its in recess. After the fight, though, I will come back to Los Angeles and go back to school. Classes start July 15th and I will be studying again.

ESB: What kind of school?

Roman Karmazin: There are free schools here, it’s not bad they have different levels and I was going to the lowest one, of course, now, though, I started going to a higher one. I am telling you, I am here two years, coming and going, and I went to this school for half a year and I got more from that than all the rest of the time I was here. Of course, the barrier still exists but I understand a lot already but I am still too shy to speak. However, I understand a lot already.

ESB: Yeah, like when you will be on Showtime, after the fight, you will probably understand that commentator, Grey, before they will translate it for you. Did you ever have an instance with the referee, where you didn’t understand him and that gave your opponent the advantage?

Roman Karmazin: Well, no, that is all primitive, you know, it’s all like “break,” or he points to his head, elbow. That you can understand automatically. Even if you can’t, you just nod your head and say, “I won’t do it again.” (laughing)

ESB: (laughing)

Roman Karmazin: (laughing) Yeah, during the fight, he says, “I won’t do it anymore,” and then does the same thing over again.

ESB: (laughing) Yeah, like they do something with their hands, as if to say, “I’m sorry,” and then continue the same way. I remember you once said, "they put you up as a sparring partner against James Toney?"

Roman Karmazin: Well, they didn’t put me anywhere; Freddie Roach asked me to spar with him and I did so, with pleasure. I learned a lot from him, although basically, Toney was not in shape, far from it, and to be honest with you, I was whipping him. (laughing)

ESB: (laughing)

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, whipping him bad (laughing). Also, he had that huge gut, and well nobody wanted to spar with him. Everybody said, “pay us and we will spar with him,” while I did it for free.

ESB: (laughing)

Roman Karmazin: I had to test myself, see how I would measure up to such a great boxer, to see if I could do it.

ESB: I only ask because I know that he sometimes likes to curse and belittle his opponents and sparring partners.

Roman Karmazin: You know, it’s curious, right? After sparring, he came up to me and said, the first….I mean everybody in the gym was shocked, the first white guy in his life, he said, “You will be a champion because you have a unique style.” He was the first, to say that to me, and it felt very good to hear, and he never said anything insulting to me, ever.

ESB: Did you become friends?

Roman Karmazin: Well, not that we became friends, we sparred two times, maybe three, I don’t even remember but, I mean, like serious sparring. Later, we saw each other and whenever we would cross paths, let’s say that he was sort of happy to see me. I mean, he is the kind of guy that will just pour dirt on everybody in the gym, whites and blacks.

ESB: (laughing)

Roman Karmazin: Everybody was very surprised with the way he acted towards me and I was very surprised, myself. Very respectful and really it felt very good.

ESB: Can you already say something threatening to your opponents in English, like Toney?

Roman Karmazin: No, that is not my style.

ESB: Well, I mean, more so, like can you curse in English, already?

Roman Karmazin: (laughing) Cursing is the first thing they teach us, the same as when they learn, probably even faster, to pick up Russian curse words. I’ll tell you, though, it’s not worth anything.

ESB: (laughing) Like Nikolai, you also visited many countries around the world and fought there. What country would you like to fight in that you have not fought in before?

Roman Karmazin: Well, I was never in Japan, so it would be interesting to find out what is going on over there. I was never in Australia. Not really that I want to fight there, just to visit. As far as boxing, though, the best fans, well the ones who sort of understand boxing the most are here in America. Not really that they understand it, just that they love it and go to fights the most.

ESB: To many fans of boxing, Orhan Delibas, was considered a rising star and future champion, when you convincingly knocked him out and forced him to leave boxing, did you think you had finally earned your dues and would become famous?

Roman Karmazin: You know, I don’t think so. I was always told that I was almost like a nobody.

ESB: Who?

Roman Karmazin: Shafer, Igor Borisovich. I worked with him for a long time. He had this strategy of never thinking too much of ourselves, never asking for too much money and that was basically our relationship. Sort of suggesting like we had not developed or fully grown yet, and that allowed him to keep us on a short leash. Of course, that made us develop an inferiority complex and think we were not equal and that we would never be able to reach that level and fight on an equal footing with all the great fighters.

Not until I came here, not until I parted ways with Shafer, not until I came to America, and experienced everything I experienced here, did I understand that, damn it, all of them are made from the same flesh and blood as we are, and that I am not worse, and even better. Not until I sparred with all these champs, with Toney, with the Australian Green, with Forrest, did I understand that I am no worse, but maybe even better. ONLY here did I fully start believing in myself. It is only here that YOU can fully believe in yourself.

We have these politics there, the commentators all say, “Now they will show our boys and then we will show the REAL boxing,” and they show Americans. Yeah, we are different, we will never be like Americans, like the black fighters, cause they are prettier, they look better, but the important thing is the result and the final outcome, right?

ESB: Of course.

Roman Karmazin: All of us, we are hard-headed, yes, we get hit, but we bear it and continue going forward and fighting. The Americans, are softer, prettier looking, and when they fight, it looks good. Yeah, we Russians are a little clumsy, but we have our own value and the important thing is the result and the victory, and the way to reach it, should not matter.

Unfortunately, our fans don’t understand that, the commentators, for some reason, think that American boxing is the only real boxing. That is Crap! I am telling you right now, in about five years, all the major weight categories will belong to Russians; Well, rather, former Soviet fighters. Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhs, Russia, will dominate. Before, they just didn’t believe in themselves because they thought that you had to win something big like the Olympics and then move to Australia, like Kostya Tsyzu, because to become champion straight from Russia, was impossible. I was the first to do it, and I stamped out that path and everybody saw that it is realistic and it is possible. Then Kolya Valuev won, and then so it has gone, then Lyakhovich and they will go on and our guys will be winning everything.

ESB: Well, the first time I heard your name was when Oscar De La Hoya pulled out of his fight with you. Oscar doesn’t have a reputation of a coward but did you think it was a matter of him not being as confident when it came to fighting you?

Roman Karmazin: I’ll tell you the truth, they were offering him four and a half million, and he said, “I don’t fight for anything less then five.” The interest in the fight was very low, nobody knew me, and nobody wanted to buy tickets for the fight. Basically, I understand him because, look, he went and fought Vargas and earned 8 million, you understand.

The saddest thing about the whole situation was that I did not get one red cent from anybody. No cancellation fees, no nothing for my time being wasted. Although, I had heard that De La Hoya gave some money to my promoter, in order to fight with Vargas, but I did not receive anything.

ESB: (laughing) As always, right?

Roman Karmazin: Yep, as usual.

KarmazinESB: How hard was it for you to train all these years without any real opportunities?

Roman Karmazin: I’ll tell you, that is the hardest of all when you don’t have any opportunities, and you don’t see any on the horizon. I don’t know how I didn’t break down and how I was able to overcome it all. That is probably why I have the nickname, “Made in Hell.” You know, like I went through things that would break somebody else. Whoever I talk to and tell about my fate, always says, “How were you ever able to bear it all?”

Also, I think you have to love the sport, and I love boxing. You know, I denied and keep denying myself so much. I have a very stringent regime: I don’t smoke, never smoked, don’t drink, not even beer. I am very serious about that, and I mean, I approach boxing as a profession; It’s my profession. I go to train, like I go to work; I can’t miss it because I know that, otherwise, I won’t get paid if I miss it.

ESB: Speaking of all the elite fighters, can you give a short list of famous boxers who did not want to fight you?

Roman Karmazin: Did not want to? You know, I can’t say who did not want to, or who I did not want to fight. There were many of them: We wanted a fight with Forrest, with Quartey, with Santos, with Taylor, and however hard we tried, in the end, nothing came of it.

ESB: Do you think guys like Mosley and Vargas are honestly running from a fight with you, or are thinking about the fact that against each other, they can make more money?

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, I think that they can make more against each other, because they are sort of famous already. Unfortunately, boxing is becoming more commercial in the first place and the sport is taking a backseat.

ESB: Did you watch Taylor - Wright? I think, I already read your thoughts on the matter.

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, I thought that Wright won convincingly. Taylor definitely did not deserve anything.

ESB: Well, since the fight ended in a draw, which of them would you like to fight, if both would be willing?

Roman Karmazin: It would be an interesting fight with both of them, but with Wright, it would be more difficult. He is a very difficult opponent, a very difficult opponent.

ESB: I think you mentioned a plan of some sort in that interview for

Roman Karmazin: Yes, there is a plan and I think it should work. It’s just that I think I know about how somebody should fight him. I watch his fights and I see that nobody tries this against him, for some reason.

ESB: I know, asking about details is not necessary but….

Roman Karmazin: (interrupting) Well, I won’t tell you, even if you ask; It’s possible, though and maybe fate will bring Winky and I together.

ESB: Well, I was going to ask, if you had any opponents similar to Wright?

Roman Karmazin: Nope.

ESB: Can you tell us about the fights in Spain against Castillejo and Rodriguez. Were you really robbed both times or were the results fair?

Roman Karmazin: Really, after the fight with Castillejo, my next fight was also in Madrid, only at a different venue. After I won that one, all the commentators, and journalists, came up to me and said, “honestly, you won the fight, but you understand that, here, under these circumstances, they won’t give you the points win,” and I said, “guys, I don’t hold a grudge against anybody.”

Also, I mean at that moment, I didn’t want to box, and had become so disillusioned with the sport, that you know, the unfairness of it all, with the De La Hoya fight, and not getting any money, and now a fight with some guy named Castillejo. Honestly, I was going there to lose, cause if I would win, then there would be another fight and then another one. I was going there just to earn my purse, however, much it was, and leave boxing. It’s not that I just wanted to, it’s that I knew I was leaving the sport.

However, my fans didn’t let me, I am very grateful to them, they gave me a new life. They came up to me and said, “you are the best, and you can do it, you just need to regroup, and you will be able to break them all.” I was in shock, of course.

ESB: And this helped you?

Roman Karmazin: Of course, I became a totally different boxer. I thought more clearly, just for that fight, I was off, like a robot, not thinking about anything, not thinking in the ring. You can’t just survive you have to create and work.

ESB: What about the draw against Rodriguez?

Roman Karmazin: The draw was in the beginning of my career, it was my first international fight. The guy was the Spanish champion and they brought me in, as they say, for cannon fodder. Threw some money at us, and thought he would get rid of me in short order.

I just, well, nobody believed in me cause that was one of my first fights, 8 rounds, and I just beat the living crap out of him, and because I was not experienced enough, I couldn’t finish him. I broke his nose, I cut him over both eyes, both cheeks there was absolutely no place left unmarked on his face. I still wonder about how he was ever able to leave the ring and hold out until the end. Anyway, as if to spite me, they gave me the draw. The fans there were protesting so loudly, that the referee came over and raised my hand. I heard they even wanted to put a loss on my record.

ESB: (laughing) Who?

Roman Karmazin: The local boxing commission in that little town. The guy that brought me there, came to my defense, though. He told them, “What do you think you are doing? What kind of garbage is this?” and so they put it down as a draw. Really, though, I won that fight, clearly.

That is when my manager, the promoters, after that fight, started to see that I was capable of something, and that I wasn’t just a mediocre fighter.

ESB: Who do you think is the second best fighter in the division?

Roman Karmazin: Well, there are many good fighters. De La Hoya, I think, after the way he handled himself against Mayorga.

ESB: I say second, only because I talked to Yuri Foreman, not long ago, and he had very good things to say about you. Do you have anything to say about him?

Roman Karmazin: You know, I did not see any of his fights, but I heard a lot of good things about him, as being a good fighter, but I did not see any of his fights.

Otherwise, I remember, we met a long time ago. It was when he was still an amateur and we met in New York. He is a very good kid and also a good person. At the time, I think he still had a Russian trainer that brought him to the States.

ESB: Cool. Well, if all the financial questions would be ironed out, how high would you be willing to go up in weight?

Roman Karmazin: A little higher, maybe up to 160. Farther than that, my height would not allow me, that is my opinion, though. Although, who knows? Maybe I can try to go higher.

ESB: Real quick, I want to check your opinion against that of your friend Dimitri Kirillov. Who is, in your opinion, the greatest Soviet boxer of all time?

Roman Karmazin: Soviet? Soviet would probably be Popenchenko.

KarmazinESB: Yeah, Dimitri said the same thing.

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, that would be the Soviet guy. As far as professionals, that would be our own Kostya Tsyzu, who is an absolutely unique fighter. The things he did in the ring were just, without going into detail, they were unbelievable.

ESB: Will Dimitri be in your corner for the fight?

Roman Karmazin: He will come for the fight, but he won’t be in the corner. My team is basically full, that is why.

ESB: Recently, your other friend, Kostya Tsyzu, made an announcement about his desire to organize an Association for Russian or ex-Soviet boxers. What do you think about that and will you be helping him out with this organization?

Roman Karmazin: You know, if he asks me, I would be glad to help. I already started calling a whole row of boxers and one of them will come for my fight. Ivan Kirpa, did you hear of him?

ESB: Yeah, sure, Ivan “the Terrible.” I saw him once but he lost.

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, he lost, unfortunately, and it was his fault, cause he shouldn’t have taken that fight, cause he had only trained for 2 weeks before the fight. Nobody knows about that, of course.

ESB: Now, everyone will know, though.

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, and, well, he tried hard, even if he only trained two weeks. Now, I think, things will be different for him.

ESB: I think you mentioned recently that with your manager, Steven Bash, you want to start a promotional company for Russian fighters.

Roman Karmazin: Yeah, yeah, we want to bring over a whole slew of fighters and amateurs who are very talented. I just can’t name any names, you know, because they could get into trouble.

ESB: Can you at least name some guys you would try to bring over? Just some perspective guys?

Roman Karmazin: No, I won’t do that because the Amateur association is not interested in letting them go to the pros, and they will do everything in their power to stop them. At the same time, these guys are boiling in that soup, and as a result, not earning any money and leaving the sport beaten, broken, and not needed by anyone.

ESB: Have any of your family members come to support you on July 8th?

Roman Karmazin: No, my wife won’t come because we just had a baby born on the 30th of January, here in America. They are in Piter (St. Petersburg), now and even if they wanted to, they couldn’t come.

ESB: Will they be watching it live in Russia?

Roman Karmazin: I don’t think so, because I don’t think they will be showing it.

ESB: Roman, can you tell us about your family?

Roman Karmazin: I have three sons. The oldest, Oleg, is 11, and he is from my first marriage, and I am trying to get him a Green Card. My first wife is not against him living with me.

From my second wife, Natalya, my love, I have two sons. One is, 6, Sergei, and the other, Nikita, was just born.

ESB: Who did you name them after?

Roman Karmazin: The first one, I named after my brother, who died at 21, in a car crash. His name was Oleg, also.

With Sergei, I just liked the name, and the third one, my wife said, “you got to name Sergei, so I will name this one, Nikita.”

ESB: How did you meet her?

Roman Karmazin: We met on V.E. day, the 9th of May, during the salute in Pushkin, which is a region in Piter. I was living there at the time.

ESB: What do you do after training every day?

Roman Karmazin: Well, I am an athletic guy and I like big Tennis, so I go there. Today, it's Saturday, so I drove to Big Bear, 100 miles from town in the mountains. Sitting here fishing, and I haven’t caught anything and probably won’t catch anything cause its just one of those days.

ESB: (laughing) You went by yourself?

Roman Karmazin: No, with a friend of mine. Sitting here all night and the fish just are not biting.

ESB: (laughing) Nikolai Valuev likes to fish, too?

Roman Karmazin: I don’t know about that.

ESB: I think he said he did. Interested to know if you ever went together?

Roman Karmazin: No, we just met often in the gym. We trained together for a long time and, of course, Kolya was with a different manager and he was just unlucky, at first. Now, I hope that he will earn his money and everything will be ok. I think he finally ended up in the right place. I am happy for him.

I also read on the Internet that he wanted to come to my fight but I talked to him a little while ago, and he doesn’t know anything about that.

ESB: I think King wanted to bring him over and start promoting him here. Ok, well, whenever anybody talks about you, they always mention your deceased trainer, Igor Lebedev. Can you tell us about him?

Roman Karmazin: That is the man who made me the person that I am now. He was a great trainer, who figured out on his own, all the work we are doing right now. When I came to America, I didn’t see anything new in terms of preparation. I mean, absolutely nothing. They are just starting to consider the strategies that he had already developed on his own way before.

He would invite us to his house often and watch parts of the best fights. He would show them to us and say, “Look how this guy worked,” or that guy, and really, I just couldn’t understand it back then. It was only later that I realized that he was a truly unique person and trainer. I will tell you something, honestly, if I would still have him in my corner, I would never, come close to losing to anybody, EVER!

KarmazinESB: How did you meet him?

Roman Karmazin: Fate. I used to go to a different trainer in a different gym and it just so happened that we had to go to a competition, and that trainer had issues with the amateur federation. So he told me, “Listen, go to that gym and there is a trainer there, Igor Lebedev, ask for him, tell him it’s from me, and you will go with him.” So that is it, I went to him and said, “I was sent here,” and we met, and through stages I was able to see that this is a realistic person and he would give me exactly what I needed.

ESB: Do you remember one particular fight where it was his exact words that pushed you to victory?

Roman Karmazin: Well, not just one fight, there were many fights. I remember one in particular, where I fought in Moscow against an American. Kolya and Dima were on the same card……..Frazier was his name, he still fights at 160. He was in many championship fights, although truthfully, he didn’t win any, I think.

So, it was a tough fight, I seriously over trained, and the preparation was horrible, and I was like a robot. Anyway, he says to me, “listen to me and we will win,” and I went into the ring and just turned myself off, and just listened to his voice, as if through a megaphone, “left, straight right,” and I scored and in this way, I was able to pull out the win. He was thinking for me, I just obeyed completely.

I was in such horrible shape, I lost weight, couldn’t sleep. I would get up at night and start training. I understood why it happened, too, since everybody thought I was so great, they would come up and ask, “What round will you knock him out in?” and I said, “Why do you think I will knock him out? Maybe, he will knock me out.” This was just so detrimental to me, that I almost fell into a bottomless pit, but thankfully, Mikhailich (I. Lebedev) pulled me out of it in that fight.

ESB: When you are in the corner between rounds, do you think about what he would tell you, if he was still standing in front of you?

Roman Karmazin: It’s interesting cause I did have a situation like that in my fight with Keith Holmes. It was an eliminator, and he was tall, a lefty, experienced, and very difficult to fight. So, you know, the third round, I sit down in my corner, and I feel that I can’t do anything, I can’t feel him out at all and I just can’t work at all. So I was just so nervous that I start thinking to myself, “Mikhailich, what would you have told me to do, damn it?” (laughing). Seriously, and I start to list all the different strategic variations he would have told me to use. So, I thought about a frontal stance, and then I got up and right away, I knocked him down, but the ref didn’t count it, but I still scored well and I tried to finish him, but even so, I felt I broke him with those shots.

Then the same thing in the 11th, after the 10th, I started letting him go again, because to that point, I was in control but then I felt I was losing it once more. So I addressed Mikhailich once more, and as they say, he helped me from beyond, and I changed my approach a little, once more. During the fight, I had switched up a total of three times, see, so that brought me the necessary success.

So, believe it or not, thanks to him, I was able to pull out that hard fought bout, too.

ESB: What was the best advice he ever gave you?

Roman Karmazin: He had so many wise words and pieces of advice, that I won’t even begin to list them all. In different situations, there was different advice for different opponents. He was just a great person in life and taught us to be the same way.

ESB: Roman, thank you for your time. There are just two more questions. What do you want to say to Spinks’s fans that will come to watch you in St. Louis?

Roman Karmazin: I hope they cheer for great boxing. The best man will win.

ESB: What do you want to say in closing?

Roman Karmazin: I want to wish everybody health and happiness and that they go and watch boxing often.

ESB: Well, then, Roman, I will be watching and cheering for you, of course. Good Luck!

Roman Karmazin: Thank you! Until next time, Good Bye!

After speaking with Roman, I also asked his manager Steven Bash a few questions regarding Roman and their future together.

ESB: Who do you want to chase a fight with after Spinks?

Steven Bash: We are hoping that Roman's days of chasing fighters will soon be over, and that other fighters will be chasing him for a chance to be considered the best at their weight class. Ideally, we would like to unify the division or knock off the big "names" in boxing, like De La Hoya, Mosley, Vargas, Forrest, and Quartey. We feel these guys are just names that people pay big money to see and would like to prove what boxing media outlets, like Ring Magazine and ESPN currently say about Roman being the best boxer at 154 pounds. In addition, with Roman's size, he would be able to challenge any of the big names at 160 pounds, as well. Nevertheless, our focus right now is on Spinks and we will go from there.

ESB: Can you share some info regarding your promotional company that Roman mentioned?

Steven Bash: With the prevalence of more and more ex-Soviet boxers on the world scene and in the championship ranks, we would like to give them the opportunities that Roman did not have early in his career. Roman's nickname, "Made in Hell," is not satanic, but rather a reflection of the tough mountain he had to climb to achieve his success. There were many roadblocks placed in the way of his progression, and many bad people took advantage of him during his career. Roman rose from the ashes to be where he is today. We would like to give other talented fighters better opportunities without some of the Bull that is associated with the business side of boxing.

ESB: Can you tell us about Roman's website

Steven Bash: We made a website for Roman after the Ouma fight, because many people had inquired about him, and Don King's website was still under construction. We plan on improving it further so more fans can learn about Roman.

ESB: How did you and Roman meet?

Steven Bash: I am an attorney and Roman came to me, through a mutual friend, as a client, when his former managers were trying to extort him. One manager threatened to have Roman deported if he didn't sign a long-term contract with him and the other was claiming to still have a valid contract with him when he really didn't. After these problems were resolved, Roman asked if I would represent him in future dealings and I agreed to do so. We've been together ever since.

ESB: Any predictions for the fight?

Steven Bash: I've learned a great deal from being around Roman, on both a boxing level, as well as a personal level. In both cases, I have learned not to make predictions.

I want to thank Roman for answering all my questions sincerely and honestly, and I want to wish him success on Saturday and in the future. I also want to thank Steven Bash, Roman’s manager, for helping me get in contact with Roman, as well as responding to my questions.

Check out Roman’s site at and make sure you tune in to Showtime this Saturday, July 8th, for Roman Karmazin vs. Cory Spinks.

Still to come: the long overdue interview with “Slick” Alicia Ashley

Article posted on 07.07.2006

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