Beware Super-Featherweights – The Latest Russian Destroyer Is Making Moves

Powerful Russian southpaw Shavkat Rakhimov is making a name for himself at world level. Currently 13-0(10) the 24 year old super-featherweight holds the lightly regarded IBO belt, yet the man from Ekaterinburg is already thinking about fighting the other reigning champions at 130 pounds. Having fought in a number of tournaments as an amateur, Rakhimov, who turned pro in December of 2015, has picked up a decent amount of experience.

Trained by Nikolai Popov, Rakhimov says he plans to box once more this year, before having “three or four fights” in 2019. Last seen wiping out the experienced Robinson Castellanos in just a couple of rounds, Rakhimov feels he will soon be ready for bigger, sterner tests.

Here, as translated by Vita Martynova, Shavkat speaks with ESB:

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Q: First of all, how old were you when you first put the gloves on?

Shavkat Rakhimov: “I was ten years old when I put the gloves on, I can still remember the moment very well. It was the second day I came to the gym – I put the gloves on and I sparred for the first time. Mike Tyson was the boxer, the great fighter of my childhood – everyone watched him. He influenced me to want to be a fighter. Today, I look up to Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward. I very much like the way Ward fights so smart, how he always finds a way to win no matter what. Mayweather, I admire his hard-working nature, how he always prepares so hard for each fight. Myself, I am trying to improve on my defensive skills. During each training session, I work on defence, on holding my hands in one place, working on not lowering my hands, to not let even one punch slip through. Mayweather, Tyson and Ward, they are my boxing idols.”

Q: You have shown genuine punching power, but what are your other strengths?

S.R: “My stamina, my super-stamina! This is my biggest asset as a fighter. If I set myself to fight for all 12-rounds, I will fight for all 12-rounds. My own hard-working nature is another big asset of mine. I always make sure I am totally ready for each and every single fight.”

Q: What do you remember from your amateur career?

S.R: “I had some fights against some big names at amateur level. I don’t actually remember too many of my amateur fights, but I boxed Shakhram Giyasov at the World Cup in 2014 – he went on to win an Olympic silver medal in 2016. My toughest-ever fight came at amateur level, against a guy from Uzbekistan, who I fought in 2013 or 2014. It was a war. This was in the President’s Cup in Kazakhstan. I won my first bout well enough but I suffered a cut, and I went into my second fight with this cut. We had a knockdown-drag-out fight and my whole face was just transformed, I was busted up. I wanted to fight on but the referee stopped the fight.”

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Q: And who so far has tested you at pro level?

S.R: “Jimmy Paypa, from the Philippines, he gave me a tough fight last May. He knocked me down twice but I came back and finally I KO’d him (in the sixth-round) Malcolm Klassen was also a good boxer, a former champion with super-experience (an eighth-round stoppage win for Rakhimov in February. There are a lot of good fighters at super-featherweight, other champions who I look at facing one day – Miguel Berchelt is a good fighter, so too is Tevin Farmer and of course Gervonta Davis. These are all big and interesting fights that I’m looking at; these guys are my potential rivals of the future.”

Q: Do you make the 130 pound limit easily enough and do you see yourself staying at the weight for the time being?

S.R: “Yes, I make it easy, I will stay at this weight, I am comfortable in this weight division. I just need to make sure I eat healthily. When I reach my peak is up to me, and it is God’s will. I absolutely love what I am doing, I really can’t get enough of it. I love boxing. But it is important to rest between fights and this is what I’m doing now. I plan to fight again in December and then take three or four fights next year. Boxing is big in Russia and of course I enjoy fighting here at home. But in time, yes, I do aim to showcase myself to the world and fight in other countries. This is an exciting time for me. I am working and learning all the time in the gym.”