Beibut Shumenov Ready to Challenge World Cruiserweight Champions

LAS VEGAS (December 23, 2014) – Combining the invaluable experience he gained as world light heavyweight champion with a different style of boxing introduced to him by his new head trainer, Ismael Salas, Beibut Shumenov used his impressive cruiserweight debut Dec. 13 to prove his legitimacy as a world title contender in the 200-pound division.
Shumenov (15-2, 10 KOs), a former World Boxing Association (WBA) light heavyweight champion and 2004 Kazakhstan Olympian, outclassed opponent Bobby Thomas, Jr. (14-3, 9 KOs) on his way to victory by way of a fifth-round technical knockout.  
“It’s much easier for me fighting at 200 pounds than 175,” Shumenov explained. “My body couldn’t take it anymore. When I first came to America seven years ago, I planned to fight as a heavyweight or cruiserweight because I weighed 240-245 pounds. When I moved here to Las Vegas everybody my size were super middleweights and light heavyweights. The decision was made then for me to fight as a light heavyweight.
“I’m not making excuses but I lost 55 pounds for my last fight. I saw opportunities but my body failed me. I wanted to throw punches but my body didn’t respond. I made a decision to move up to cruiserweight and also added a great head coach, Ismael Salas. He teaches the Cuban boxing style and (assistant trainer) Jeff (Grmoja) uses an old-school American style. And Rodney Crisler (team member) shares his knowledge, too. I have a great team supporting me.”
The 31-year-old Shumenov, currently the No. 2 rated cruiserweight in the WBA, captured the WBA light heavyweight title January 29, 2010 with a 12-round decision over Gabriel Campillo in only his 10th professional fightto establish the fewest-fights record for a world light heavyweight champion. Five successful title defenses followed but the muscular Shumenov had more and more problems making weight, in addition to being self-trained in his last three fights prior to last Saturday’s in Las Vegas.
Equally important as moving up in weight to avoid sapping his strength was adding Salas to his corner. Salas came to the United States 25 years ago and he has trained the likes of Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriokis Gamboa, Danny Green, Jesse Vargas and Jorge Linares.
The Cuban boxing style Salas teaches is similar to what Shumenov learned in Kazakhstan developing through its then Soviet Union boxing program. Positive chemistry between the two was immediate and early dividends were evident in Shumenov’s fight against Thomas.
“Most importantly,” Shumenov noted, “I followed the instructions of my coach in this fight. For us, it wasn’t important to knockout my opponent in the first round. This fight was a test for my new style in a real fight. I used my new tools – footwork and more angles to punch. My body listened this fight and it did everything my head wanted to be done. I’m still in the learning process, though.”
“I’m very happy that Beibut was so comfortable and that he stuck to the game plan from the first round until the end,” Salas commented after the fight. “Every fight is a learning experience. We liked what we saw during the fight; Beibut did everything I asked of him.”
Grmoja has worked with Shumenov for several years and he was amazed at how well Shumenov and Salas clicked in such a relatively short training period. “They only had 78 days working together,” Grmoja added. “Beibut completely changed his style and during the fight he didn’t go back to fighting the old way like so many guys do.. He didn’t fight off balance, throw wild punches, or keep his head up and his hands down. He will win the world cruiserweight title in 2015 to become a two-division world champion.”
The reigning world cruiserweight champions are WBA Denis Lebedev (Russia), IBF Yoan Pablo Hernandez (Germany), WBC Krzysztof Wlodarczyr and WBO Marco Huck (Germany).
“My power is stronger at cruiserweight because there’s no stress on my body to make weight like there was at light heavyweight,” Shumenov concluded. “Hopefully, I will get an opportunity early next year to fight for a world title. I’m ready! If not, I want to stay busy until my adviser, Al Haymon, gets me a world cruiserweight title shot.”

Youri Kalenga: “I Want Denis Lebedev Next”



Youri Kalenga (L) is always in attack mode
(photo by Dougie Minehan)

CORK, Ireland (Nov. 18, 2014) – Fresh off of his devastating 12th round knockout of previously undefeated No. 2 contender “Dangerous” Denton Daley (12-1) this past Saturday night, as the official WBA mandatory challenger, Interim World Boxing Association (WBA) cruiserweight champion Youri “El Toro” Kalenga (21-1, 14 KOs), has set his sights next on WBA “regular” champion Denis Lebedev (26-2, 20 KOs) with a loftier goal to eventually unify all the world titles.
“I want to fight Lebedev next and my promoter, Michael King (King Sports Enterprises), will bring that fight to Los Angeles,” Kalenga said. “Once I beat Lebedev, I will take on the other world champions – (IBF) Yoan Pablo Hernandez, (WBO) Marco Huck or (WBC) Grigory Drodz. Give me any and all of them!”
The 26-year-old Kalenga, the Congolese fighter who lives in France, captured the Interim WBA title this past June in Monte Carlo, taking a 12-round split decision (116-112, 115-113, 113-115) over Mateusz Masternak (32-1).
Last Saturday evening, in front of 6,000 partisan fans in the first world heavyweight championship bout held in Mississauga, Canada, hometown favorite Daley was dropped by Kalenga in the ninth, displaying heavy-handed combinations that bludgeoned him helplessly to the mat. Daley trailed badly on the scorecards going into the final round and the former college basketball player decided to go for broke. Kalenga finished him off, though, with two more knockdowns in the 12th round. Referee Charlie Fitch halted the action at the 1:52 mark after a three-punch explosion left Daley out on his feet before going unconscious and motionless on the canvas for several moments.
An aggressive fighter and vicious puncher, Kalenga embodies his nickname – “El Toro” – relentlessly coming forward, throwing powerful bombs from all different angles. His style promises to make him a hit with fans all over the world.
Fighting in Daley’s backyard wasn’t a problem for Kalenga, whose last seven fights have been in seven different countries – Canada, Monaco, Ireland, Spain, France, Latvia and Germany.
“I love to fight and for me it doesn’t matter where,” Kalenga noted. “If I fight in my opponent’s territory, he thinks that he has the advantage but, once every one clears out of that ring before the first bell, it is just me and him. Of course, the officials will sway towards the home fighter, so, that’s why I go for a knock out.”
Kalenga’s last five fights have been under the guidance of international boxing manager Gary Hyde (Nowhere2hyde), who also manages WBA Super & WBO super bantamweight champion Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs), the two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist; former WBO middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (31-1, 18 KOs), the current IBF middleweight mandatory challenger; Georgian junior welterweight prospect Levan “The Wolf” Ghvamichava (13-1, 10 KOs) and French junior middleweight title-holder Michel Soro (23-1-1, 13 KOs.
“Youri is tough, rugged, brutal fighter and, at 26, he will be a big force at 200 pounds,” Hyde commented. “Youri has raw power in both hands and he’s also a showman. He’s going to be a huge star once U.S. fans get to see him in action. He didn’t want to leave the final outcome to the judges, hence, scoring a devastating knockout in round 12. Daley was game and he did put up a good fight.”
Kalenga is now the mandatory challenger for Lebedev, whose last fight was a second-round stoppage of Pawel Kolodziej (33-0) this past September. The Russian southpaw had lost his WBA title belt May 17, 2013 to WBA “Champion in Recess” Guillermo Jones (KO11), but Lebedev was reinstated as WBA champion after Jones failed a post-fight drug test.
Lebedev, however, has never fought outside of Russia and Europe, so for Team Kalenga to make a fight in the United States with Lebedev is a long-shot unless it goes to purse bid and King Sports Enterprises wins.
“Youri’s promoter, King Sports, has huge resources and it is very keen on delivering world title fights,” Hyde added. “I am confident that Michael King, CEO of King Sports, will put this fight with Lebedev on in California.”
Meanwhile, outside of Europe, Kalenga is the best-kept secret in the cruiserweight division, if not in all of boxing.  
In the ring, like a charging bull on Red Bull, Kalenga just keeps coming forward with bad intentions. He made a major statement in his North American debut last weekend. Now, his goal is to settle the score in the WBA with Lebedev, before attempting to unify the world cruiserweight title.

Johnny Nelson: “Marco Huck has a Plastic Crown, to Make it Gold He Needs to Prove Himself Outside of Germany.’’

Johnny Nelson-Marco Huck

Tomorrow night in Halle, Germany WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Marco Huck (37-2-1, 26 KOs) will attempt to equal Johnny Nelson’s record for the most title defences in the cruiserweight division when he faces Mirko Larghetti (21-0, 13 KOs) at the Gerry Weber Stadium.

As Huck threatens to match Nelson’s record of thirteen successful defences, ‘’The Entertainer’’ has exclusively revealed that he would consider a sensational return to the ring to face the ”plastic” champion and reclaim his WBO title.

‘’There are only a handful of world champions who can truly be considered the best in the world and in my opinion Marco Huck is not one of them,’’ said Nelson. ‘’No disrespect to the kid but to get people to sit up, pay attention and consider him the best, he needs to fight outside of Germany, away from his home comforts.

‘’I fought all over the world and defended my title against the very best. I proved that I was the top fighter in the division. At the moment Huck has a plastic crown, to make it gold he needs to prove himself outside of Germany.’’

Nelson retired in 2005 ending a seven-year reign as WBO Champion. Despite nine years of inactivity, the 47 year-old believes he still has what it takes to beat Huck and admits he could be tempted out of retirement to defend his record against the reigning champion.

‘’In my prime Huck wouldn’t have stood a chance, without a doubt, the fight wouldn’t of gone the distance. Even now, a decade later, I know I could beat him. If the interest was there I would seriously consider coming out of retirement to defend my record. I would just need six months to sharpen up and I would be ready.’’

Huck has wasted no time in responding to Nelson’s remarks. ’’I have a lot of respect for Johnny and everything he achieved but he can’t be serious,’’ said the 29 year-old champion. ‘’I think he is just upset that tomorrow I will match his record and in my next fight I will break it. But if he is serious and the fans wanted to see it, I would happily give him a beating in the ring.’’

Huck’s coach, the legendary German trainer, Ulli Wegner, has also had his say, questioning Nelson’s ability to prepare himself physically for return to the ring and labelling the former champion ‘’lazy’’.

‘’I remember Johnny Nelson,’’ said Wegner. ‘’He came over for sparring ten or eleven times, and each time he would only do the bare minimum. He was a gifted boxer but in terms of laziness no one could hold a candle to him. I don’t believe he can or will want to get back into fighting shape. He should continue to focus on his job in television because a fight with Marco would end in embarrassment.’’

Johnny Nelson-Marco Huck








(Johnny Nelson-Marco Huck) Photo Credit: Team Sauerland