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On his opponent, Igor Mikhalkin: “He will bring everything to get the WBO title. But I’m not going to give it to him, believe me. My goal is to defend the title and provide that I’m the best in this division.”

On the fight: “The fight will be very interesting. He will never step back, he comes to attack and fight again. I saw his fights a lot of times as an amateur and a few fights as a professional. He is a southpaw. I haven’t fought a southpaw in a long time, probably since Cedric Agnew. Maybe it will be uncomfortable a little bit, but my goal is to make it an interesting fight.”

On this matchup: “I know just one thing, he’s very motivated right now. He never fought for a real world title and right now he is very motivated. Maybe, his whole life, he has been waiting for this moment. He comes here, and he is very dangerous because it is a great opportunity for his future boxing career … and I should be ready for everything he can bring against me.”

On his outlook toward boxing now: “I’m in the right way. Already, all my mistakes have been deleted mentally from my head. Right now, I just keep working and following my dream, for my goal to make the big fights.”

On working with his trainer Abror Tursunpulatov for the first full training camp: “I really like to work with Abror. I don’t think about what I should do, what I need to do, how many minutes or rounds. Everything is under his plan and his control. I like it, and right now I don’t spend my energy to think about training camp. Everything is under the control of Abror. I really like it, and now I have more energy to spend on focusing for the fight.”

On his current circumstances: “You know, I’m happy for everything that I have. What’s happened, has happened. What happened has made me better, and it’s in the past. What has happened with me, it’s a lesson for life. God sent me this test … It left big questions. I understand for myself, the main thing that I should do is maintain my body and my boxing career.”

On fighting outside the United States: “Fighting anyone who will fight is my goal. Wherever my next fight will be, I’ll go. For me, it doesn’t matter where I fight, just that everything should be fair around the fight. I like to travel.”

On his knockout against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy: “You know, I can say I’m back from my two losses. I’m much stronger mentally as a result of this. Life teaches me in these situations.”

Prediction for the outcome? “I don’t like to make any predictions … Only one thing I can say, this fight will be an interesting fight because it’s two Russians, and two motivated fighters. One of us will prove he is a world champion, and the other guy will lose.”

Photo Credit: Craig Bennett/Main Events

I've been in the boxing industry for over 15 years but been a fan for almost double that figure. I'm the proud owner of TopClassBoxing which continues to go from strength to strength as we strive to give fight fans a voice to be heard amongst the community. I've also had several articles published by reputable magazines and you can usually catch me around ringside.

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