For eight weeks ARENA’s promising heavyweight prospect Steffen Kretschmann and IBF middleweight championship contender Mahir Oral have been in training camp together with coach Hans-Jürgen Witte. After a stay at famous “Sportschule Hennef” (near Cologne) and another three weeks of sparring in Hamburg the team has hit Berlin last weekend for their final preparations. Kretschmann (13-0, 12 kos) will be in action on Friday in Völklingen (live on Eurosport) against Russia’s reigning PABA champion Denis Bakhtov (29-5, 18 kos). If “Kretsches” can convincingly beat EBU and WBA #14 Bakhtov he might be in line for a shot at the European championship later this year.. Experts already keep a close eye on the 29 year old 6’5’’, 230 lbs. southpaw who some consider to be a possible successor of Germany heavyweight legend Max Schmeling.
Mahir Oral is already very close to making history. “The Lion” who challenges IBF champion Arthur Abraham at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin on Saturday (live on ARD in Germany and Showtime in the USA) could become the first ever world champion born and raised in Hamburg.
“I will definitely keep my fingers crossed for Mahir on Saturday”, says Kretschmann. “I hope that he can pull the upset and dethrone ‘King Arthur’. For me it is still a long way to a world title shot. Bakhtov will be a good test. I know that I have to beat him to proceed my way to the top.”
The busiest man this weekend will be trainer Hans-Jürgen Witte who has to be in the corner of both men and travel from Berlin to Völklingen and back in between. “Preparation went very well for both guys”, states Witte. “They are mentally strong and know what they are capable of. If they both exploit there potential to the limit I am sure that Steffen and Mahir have good chances of winning their bouts.”
For promoter Ahmet Öner it is a busy week as well: “Of course, participating in two shows in two days means a lot of work but we also enjoy it. This is what we are working and living for. This is already the third big world title fight that ARENA participates in; I am proud that we got this far in less than three years.”
Mahir Oral confident of dethroning “King” Arthur Abraham
“This is the chance I have been waiting for”, states Mahir Oral who will take on IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham on June 27th at Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin, Germany (live on Showtime). “When I heard that Arthur had chosen me as voluntary challenger I didn’t have to think twice. I agreed immediately. I have the chance to face the strongest middleweight fighter in the world today. They say to be the man you have to beat the man. This is what I will go to Berlin for. I want to pull the biggest upset of the year and show the world what I got.”
Mahir Oral turned pro nine years ago after a short but successful amateur career winning Northern German championships and being part of the German national team. He won 25 of his 28 pro-fights so far, had two draws and only one loss in 2003 which he explains as follows: “At that point of my career I had no real management and no strong promoter supporting me. My handlers were just interested in their own profit and send me into the ring with Malik Dziarra – who was 19-1 at that time – after just recovering from a bad flu with high fever. I should have never taken that fight. But I learnt from it. I am happy that I found a great promoter in Ahmet Öner who brought me all the way to the top. I also have a great team with my coach Hans-Jürgen Witte (former German national amateur coach) and my physio and good friend Petros Katsares in my corner. They prepared me very well; I know that I am ready for the biggest challenge of my life.”
The “Lion” who was born and raised in Hamburg-Finkenwerder as child of Turkish immigrants knows that he is the underdog against (K.o.-)”King Arthur”. Still he is very confident: “I got nothing to lose. Everybody expects me to get knocked out; this is one of the most comfortable situations I have been in since turning pro. I have no problem with that; I actually enjoy it. I know Arthur from the time when we did sparring four or five years ago. He knows me as well so that is no advantage for neither of us. Everybody knows that he is the hardest puncher in the world. But I am the better boxer; I am taller and move better inside the ring. If I can keep him in the right distance and manage not to get caught by his power shots I don’t see him winning by decision. If the fight goes the distance Mahir Oral will be the new champion of the world.”
On Monday Mahir and his team will move from Hamburg to Berlin for fight week with public workout, press conference and official weigh-in. “I can’t wait for fight day to come. But I will enjoy every single minute on my road to glory”, says the “Lion”.