Sultan Ibragimov & Ray Austin Ready For Friday Night Fight

Ibargimov vs Austin28.07.06 - By Wray Edwards, Photos © Wray Edwards…One evening many moons ago I was sitting in the homey lobby of the Pleasant Hill Marriot Hotel (Duluth, Ga.) while waiting to interview Ebo Elder prior to his match with Lakva Sim. Sitting near was a quiet young man who seemed to be waiting for someone. As we both sat watching the lobby scene, our eyes met and we both did that guy nod which means nothing in particular, but gets it over with.

Can’t explain it, but this person exuded a presence which was one of the most peaceful and innocent I have ever experienced. I concluded that here was a gentle soul who seemed somewhat out of place in the midst of all these hyper-testosterone cliques as they entered the hotel and went to register. As ESB was summoned to the Elder interview, I got up and stepped away not knowing what a great surprise I was to get the following evening..

The next night, as the venue worked its way through the under-card and prelims, a heavyweight fight was being announced as I fiddled with the camera… “And now ladies and gentlemen, in this corner Friday Ahunanya…bla, bla, bla…and in this corner, Sultan Ibragimov…bla, bla, bla….” Looking up to see who the announcer was introducing, I was amazed to see that one of them was the peaceful “guru” from the lobby the night before.

It was Sultan Ibragimov, and he quickly demonstrated his chameleon powers by at first standing pensively in his corner, as he waited for the round one bell which quickly sounded…he then transformed into a focused heavyweight boxer who was getting the job done against a much larger opponent. How was it possible for such a contrast of demeanor to exist in one person? Beats me, but there it was.

Three months later at the Seminole Hard Rock, I had another opportunity to watch the dramatic transition again, as yet another big fellah (Lance Whitaker) ended up on the floor while dealing with the less gentle side of Sultan. Once again, seven months after the Whitaker bout, Abragimov (19-0, 17KO’s) is back in the ring with a really big guy by the name of Ray Austin (24-3-3 (16 KO’s).

This match is again at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, and will be featured on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. Billed as the “Battle For The Number One Spot”, this contest is touted as the fight which will determine the most qualified or “mandatory” opponent to face Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF Heavyweight championship. This, of course, depends on the outcome or actual occurrance of an already scheduled rust-preventer between Wlad and Shannon Briggs at MSG in November.

Those who have seen Sultan fight, are impressed by two things especially: One often hears others say… “But he doesn’t look like a boxer”, whatever that means. But soon, having seen for themselves, they are commenting on hand-speed and focus. Sure enough, it’s not long before the ref is raising Sultan’s arm in victory at the end of each match, while the entourage in the ring, from fight-to-fight, grows in size and stature. Post Whitaker, as the ref raised Sultan’s left arm, none other than Mike Tyson was raising his right.

The under-card contestants all appear to be rough and ready. In fact, this is one of the best line-ups I have seen on FNF’s in a long time. It is always a real pleasure to cover Warrior’s Boxing with the great matchmaking of Chico Rivas and Jessie Robinson, and the entertainment value gathered by Nelson Sweglar, Golden Grain Promotions and Sampson Lewkowicz.

Tonight’s ESPN offering comes during a very busy Boxing week, and that’s just fine. It’s good to see the sport gearing up on all fronts to expose new talent, draw fans and improve its image. Every day the mentors of the sport are working to reduce controversy, improve boxer performance and enhance safety. There is a lot of talk about having the sanctions restrict boxer from fighting any lower than ten pounds below their walking-around weight, as continually monitored to keep their licenses.

The event rules by the Florida Boxing Commission, which were announced after the weigh-ins, were very specific about mouthpiece issues. To wit: One spit…rinse it off and fight on, second spit…point deduction, third expectoration of the tooth rubber…Disqualification. This does not differ from the course of events which occurred during Corrales-Castillo One…seems a little lax. I would prefer a point for the first intentional and DQ for the second. Should be some great action tonight. See you at the fights.

Article posted on 29.07.2006

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