By James Slater: Unbeaten at 12-0(12) – with no opponent thus far taking him further than the 3rd-round – Russian heavyweight hope Magomed Abdusalamov makes his ESPN Friday Night Fights debut this week. Going up against another unbeaten wannabe in the 8-0(6) Pedro Rodriguez of Cuba, the former kick boxer who now lives in Oxnard, California will be looking to impress on the network.
Big things are expected of the Russian puncher, and “Mago” himself is keen to deliver.
“My aim when I fight is simple: I want to KO people! I have killer hands,” Abdusamalov told me over the phone a while back. “Both of my hands are like shovels. I work hard in the gym, because I don’t want to rely on just my power. I am concentrating on finishing my style – on being able to use either hand effectively.”
So far, the southpaw has shown stunning finishing ability, scoring an eye-catching ten 1st-round KO’s. Trained by Pablo Sarmiento and managed and promoted by Sampson Boxing, Abdusalamov fought on his biggest stage to date on October 1st – taking out Kevin Burnett inside a round on the Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker card in Atlantic City. Since then, the 30-year-old has scored yet another 1st-round win which was followed by a 3rd-round stoppage of Rich Power (who had taken Tyson Fury the distance the year before). Will the 6’3” approx 230-pounder score another quick victory over the unbeaten Rodriguez?
“I will fight in America from now on. I think a lot of fighters from overseas make a mistake by not fighting in the U.S. I will make my name in America and then, when I’ve become champion, I may take a fight in Russia. But it doesn’t matter to me where I fight – I will fight anyone, anywhere!”
Very much wanting a pro fight with U.K prospect and red-hot attraction David Price (who out-pointed Magomed as an amateur), Abdusamalov says he is working extremely hard in the gym so as to become THE best heavyweight contender around.
“I work hard in the gym,” Magomed said “I spar one guy, then change to another one without a rest. I spar 12-rounds easily. They [sparring partners] get tired, I don’t. I train five times a day sometimes.”
Having had trouble getting fights according to Sampson Lewkowicz (even getting adequate fighters to spar with), Magomed has not been as active as he would have liked (“I’d fight every week if it was up to me,” he said) – but he hopes to really make his move here in 2012.
“By the end of this year, I hope to be 19-0 and closing in on the title. I feel I am ready now for the top names but my team do not want to rush me. I am like wine: I will get better and better with age.”
It’s still early days, but already some fans are asking: can Magomed be the man to end the long reign of the Klitschko brothers? Abdusalamov himself says he isn’t concerned with who the champion is when he gets to challenge for the title – whether it’s the Klitschkos or someone else.
“To me, it doesn’t matter who the world champion is when I get there. If it’s the Klitschkos, fine. If not, I’ll be ready whoever it is. But if I do get to Klitschko and he is still champion, I will become my manager’s second world champion by beating him.”
Now, can Abdusalamov take care of 31-year-old Rodriguez in style? Seeing how the Cuban was competing down at just 194-pounds as recently as April of last year (since bulking up to 241), yes, I think he can. Look for “Mago” to win via another crushing KO as he continues his march towards his destiny.