Profile: Vassily Jirov - IBF Cruiserweight Champ

By Mark Chekhanovskiy

April 18, 2001- Undefeated Cruiserweight champion Vassily Jirov, the gold medal winner in the light heavyweight division and voted the most outstanding boxer of the olympic tournament. He is a classical body puncher, with power and skill that have not been seen in many years. Actually, he very well could be the best, ever.

Jirov had an incredible beginning to his professional career. After only 2 years as a pro, he won the IBF Cruiserweight title against Arthur Williams in a 10 round blowout. Jirov has left no doubts in his last 6 fights since then, by winning them all by knockouts. Jirov has demonstrated that his record of 27-0 with 25 knockouts is not fashioned from fluff. He has knocked out all of his number #1 challengers for his IBF

Cruiserweight title in brutal fashion this year, but still he is unable to make a dent on Network TV for displaying his talent. HBO doesn't seem to want to televise him (or other Eastern European fighters), as the market in the United States is slanted towards the Hispanic crowd.

His opponents have all suffered terrible beatings, in which they would ultimately quit when Jirov's punches would would come crashing into their midsection. The sound of his body punches is unforgettible. If you've seen him fight, then you know what I'm talking about, as there is nothing like it. Nobody throws a body punch like Jirov. Maybe Rocky Marciano, but he never could throw triple left hands.

Jirov, originally from Kazakhstan and now living and training in Arizona, has had a difficult time having his bouts promoted in the United States. The Cruiserweight division is often overlooked, as Networks don't want to show them on TV for lack of superstar talent. Most boxing stars only stay at Cruiserweight for short durations before deciding that the pay is too little, and then look for greener pastures in the Heavyweight division. Good examples: Evander Holyfield Bad example: Orlin Norris.

Jirov's new trainer, legend Emanuel Steward has been pleasantly surprised at his his boxing ability. Originally Steward was under the impression that Jirov was only a murderous body puncher and knockout artist, but since he's taken over training he's found out that Jirov is an excellent boxer. It seems that Jirov's last trainer wanted to turn him into a power puncher, so he took him

away from the great boxing moves he formerly possessed. Steward's plan now is to bring back these boxing techniques to Jirov and get him away from just being a slugger.

As an amateur, Jirov was second to none. Most of his opponents would run from the opening bell and it would be like game of cat and mouse, usually ending in the 2nd round when he would finally catch up to them and pound away with both fists until they would slip to the canvas (usually very hurt). He went on to amass
an amateur record of 207 wins in 10 losses.

Jirov has used an aggressive technique and devastating punching power to establish himself as one of the best fighters in the world today in any division. Especially noted for his vicious body attack, solid chin, toughness, and excellent boxing skills. He has strewn bodies in the wake of the real Cruiserweight champion. Rest in Peace. Saul Montana, Earl Butler, and Alphonzo Washington. He has completely obliterated an entire division, and now nothing but the near dead remain: James Toney, and Virgil Hill

Negotiations are now underway for Jirov to fight the legendary James Toney on July 7. It will be part of a doubleheader that will possibly have one of the Klitschko brother's fighting as the headliner.

This bout hinders on whether James Toney can get down to 190 pounds, which means he's got to stay away from dinner table, and that's something Toney has been unable to do. He looked grossly overweight in has last bout (210 pounds) and reminded many of Elvis in his later years.

Gone are the days when Toney was a lean and quick handed middleweight. Sadly, that was 10,000 hotdogs and cheeseburgers ago. Now he just looks fat and old. Looking like a leading contender in a pie eating contest, Toney, at the ripe age of 32, is growing slower. In his last 3 fights, opponents have been able to beat him to the jab, that is, when he even remembers to throw a jab.

He no longer has the heavy hands that he used to at Middleweight and this could be fatal for him, as without power in his punches, he has no chance to keep Jirov off of his soft midsection (and there is a lot of it).

Toney's is going to have to shrink a lot more before he can be taken seriously in this bout. He hasn't been facing any challengers since Montell Griffin with any kind of respectable power that would necessitate the need for him to lose the weight. Unfortunately for him, He may never be ready for the level Jirov's at, but it would not be fair to write off someone who holds a victory over against Thomas Hearns.

Toney must be concerned about Jirov's overhand right. Everyone talks about Jirov's left hook to the body, but the right hand is hurtful also. And with Toney throwing a lot more jabs than right hands, it will probably be easier to counter with right hands than with the hook.

From the first round, Jirov will be winging power shots at Toney's soft midsection, over and over making the ancient fighter, 32 (looks 38), work harder than usual. The idea is to wear down the older and poorly conditioned man and ultimately break him down.

This of course, could be a big mistake. Toney hits very hard. Jirov, has an excellent chin, maybe one of the greats. So if Toney is hoping for a knockout, then he will have to reach back for power that he hasn't possessed in 5 or more years and he will have to do a lot of praying.

But this fight is really a bigger risk for Toney, as a fast knockout at the hands of Vassily Jirov would be very embarrassing for the legendary fighter, and I'm not sure he could recover Psychologically or physically from such a beating.


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