There are only ten days left until the bell rings for the start of the bout that Dejan Zavec wanted ever since he lost his IBF welterweight world champion belt against Andre Berto in Biloxi in 2011. Zavec says that he is well prepared for his next challenger – the young American prospect Keith Thurman (24), who he will fight on March 9th in Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York. A few days before leaving for the USA, Mr. Simpatikus gave this interview for his official website www.dejanzavec.com
Dejan, you have been sparing with taller boxers, such as Thurman, who is around 10 cm taller than you. How are you coping with that?
If things continue in this manner – and I am sure they will – the difference in the ring should not even be noticeable. Of course, I will need to be even more careful as usual, but sparings showed that the height difference is nothing crucial. Even when fighting against a 186 cm tall fighter I had no problems, I didn’t feel that much smaller.
How is the preparation going otherwise, what is ahead before flying to the USA?
I have one week of sparing ahead of me. Next week, already in the USA, I will be adding the final touches: tactics, technique, accuracy …
Where will you be training in the USA?
My team will take care of everything. Don’t worry, I can even practice in the hotel room if it will be needed (laugh).
You have said on many occasions that the task that is in front of you is far from easy, but you took it with no questions asked. Why is that?
Everything important happening in boxing, happens in the USA. I never wanted to hide from anybody. I have been to the USA several times, I feel great there, it is the
Mecca of boxing – a big majority of the greatest fighters come from there, and I feel that I belong among them. If I want to satisfy myself, my desire to succeed and please all those who follow me and support me, this is the only path. I can’t wait for March 9th.
Keith Thurman has never fought in 12 rounds – not even 10 – when it comes to professional boxing. What does that mean for a boxer; maintaining your focus and power must be tougher with every minute that goes by?
Experience is something that plays a very important role in boxing. Thurman has had more than 100 amateur bouts and has surely fought over 12 rounds in training– although it is true that training is something completely different than a bout. Keith surely doesn’t know who and what is awaiting him in that Barclays Center ring. It will be something totally different.
Thurman has the industry behind him: he is a HBO favourite, he is promoted by Golden Boy …
Golden Boy is known as a hub for great, skillful boxers, so I am pretty much sure Keith is an exceptional fighter. He will also have the home advantage … That must have an impact, so that most of the bookies think his odds for winning are bigger than mine. But as far as I know I will be the one standing against him and I will do everything I can for his plan to go wrong. In the end, only one fighter will be allowed to raise his hands up high and this time it will be me.
Your bout will be the co-main event in the night that has Hopkins and Cloud as the main stars. You have already mentioned that the »executioner« was once your idol, that you liked to watch him fight. How does it feel to be on the same card as he is, fighting in the arena described as the »new Mecca of boxing«?
If I am sincere, I must say that I really gave it no thought at all. For sure it is a big honor, but at the moment, it is just something that is staged on the same day in the same place as the task that I want to fulfill – come out as the winner.
Biloxi and Berto surely brought a lot of new learnings, a lot of experience. Is your preparation in 2013 much different than it was in 2011?
No. The preparation itself is practically the same, only the tactics will be different. If I were to change much at my age, that would mean that I was not on the right path. But I know that I was on the right path.
Why should people watch the bout, that will be televised on HBO Boxing on March 9th?
It will be something unique. I will give the crowd something they have never seen before.
Are you nervous?
If somebody else was in my position, I would say that he has already achieved something extraordinary and I would think that he is surely very nervous about his next step. But, really, I have been in this sport for so long and have learned so much that I am totally focused on my work and being nervous is not something a boxer does. Time for thinking about everything else apart from being 100 percent focused on winning against Thurman will come when the final bell rings
on March 9th …