Khabir Suleymanov vs. Roberto Lopez This Saturday on the Undercard of Ponce de Leon-Estrella in Mexico
From the small town of Chelyabinsk, Russia, where many young men his age have turned to a life of drinking after the despair of their province being affected by a nuclear fallout in 1992, Khabir the “Crazy Russian” Suleymanov (12-1, 6KOs),
Photo by Big Joe Miranda
overcame the obstacles that have troubled his fellow countrymen by following his boxing dreams all the way to the U.S., with intentions to not only be an inspiration but an example to his countrymen that hard work and dedication can lift anyone above the anguish that afflicts them.
Khabir and his twin brother Sabir transitioned from kickboxing to the game of boxing at the late age of twenty-four and at first Khabir found the conversion from one to the other less than a walk in the park.
“At the beginning it was very hard in boxing to get my distance down. In kickboxing you can keep your opponent at a distance with your legs. You don’t have to move your body and head like in boxing so that was a problem for me at first. In boxing you always have to move,” analyzed the “Crazy Russian.”
Together the brothers stayed true to their fist and discovered a love of the sweet science embarking on a journey to the place where boxing is biggest, traveling from Russia to New York intent upon learning the game. It didn’t take long for the brothers to find success in the hurt business as they each made it to the bantamweight finals of the 2005 New York Golden Gloves where they opted not to punch each other and instead received dual gold medals.
It didn’t take long for the little ball of fire known as the “Crazy Russian” to make his way across the coast to the Golden state shortly after turning pro in the hopes of finding a more plentiful bounty of sparring partners his size.
“After I won the New York Golden Gloves I turned pro, I didn’t want to wait, I was twenty-six. After four or five pro fights in New York I moved to L.A. because there were more guys in my weight class there and a lot of good Mexican fighters. I love it here in L.A., the weather is great, I love the people, everything,” beamed Suleymanov.
Khabir’s full of tenacity and known for attacking with ferocity while trying to slice his enemy to ribbons. That’s great news for the fans but at the same time Suleymanov’s fundamentals needed polishing and he found a teacher in the City of Angels that could help mold his talent in trainer Jesse Arevalo.
“When I moved to L.A., I was sparring with Dmitry Kirillov [former IBF Super Flyweight champion] and that is how I met my trainer Jesse. I really like working with him and think Jesse is a great coach,” said the Russian spark plug.
Khabir’s ring entrance catches the eye immediately as the Russian enters replete in his native Bashkir fur-hat and coat donning his homegrown spirit, and once in the ring he keeps your attention with his aesthetically pleasing style. Trainer Arevalo agrees that Khabir’s approach is appealing to the fans but asserts that his charge is more than just a banger, “Khabir’s got a complicating style. He’s a boxer but he likes to engage on the inside, he likes to fight. He’s very rough and tough and mentally strong, not just physically but mentally.”
Suleymanov’s prizefighting career got off to an excellent start as he compiled an 11-0 record including a noteworthy 4 round stoppage of durable Jonathan Arias in his eighth fight as a pro. During that stretch of victories Khabir got off the canvas more than once while displaying the desire to overcome adversity, but on June 10, 2011 the “Crazy Russian” ran into a speed bump in the form of SHOWTIME darling and prospect Chris “The Hitman” Avalos. The fight with Avalos was a wild affair in which punches were being slung with reckless abandoned. Khabir met the canvas in the first and third rounds in a 10 round unanimous decision defeat but Suleymanov had good rounds too in a competitive learning experience.
“He was put in too early against a guy like Chris Avalos. Chris had a little more experience and was a little sharper and I think they needed to wait to put him up against a guy like that. In a way it was good though, he learned a lot and realized that he needed more fights and more experience to be able to deal with guys like that,” explained coach Arevalo.
By the peers that train alongside him at the famed Wildcard Gym, Suleymanov has been labeled an incredibly hard worker who’s always training for a fight even when there’s no scheduled scrap on the docket and according to Arevalo, following instruction is one of Khabir’s strong points.
“Khabir is a very hard working guy and he’s in great shape. He does everything that I ask him to do and that’s what I want from a fighter, he never questions me,” asserted Jesse
Khabir is a promotional free agent and recently signed on with San Diego trainer/manager Vince Parra — who trains and Manages Filipino phenom Mercito Gesta and tough as nails Aaron “El Gavilan” Garcia — as his new manager.
“I work with Mercito and Aaron and we do a lot of work at the Wildcard. We did like four camps there in 2011 and that’s where I met Khabir and I knew his trainer Jesse. I got a chance to see Khabir work out and I always thought he had talent after I started watching him. One day a couple of months ago Jesse called me up and asked me if I could help Khabir out,” described Parra when speaking on the origins of the new union, adding, “He’s a little bit older at 31 but he’s fresh and he has good work ethic. I think Khabir’s capable of fighting at the top level; he just needs to be fighting on a consistent basis. Khabir’s got a bright future as long as he keeps working hard.”
Suleymanov has fought once since his lone defeat to Avalos, toppling Jorge Guerrero in one round with a hard right hand on Dec. 10th in Mexico. This Saturday in Ensenada, Baja California, MEX., Khabir takes on Roberto “El Pollito” Lopez (30-22-1, 12KOs) in a 6 round bantamweight stay busy fight on the undercard of the Daniel Ponce de Leon-Omar Estrella 10 round featherweight battle broadcast on Televisa.
Khabir admits he knows little about “El Pollito” but feels that he himself is well trained and if he does what he knows he can do he’ll win no matter who is standing opposite him come fight night.
Khabir is what you want in a boxer as a fight fan. He’s an edge-of-your-seat type pugilist who brings excitement to the ring and brings it from ding to dong. It’s only a matter of time and practice before Suleymanov gets that coveted bantamweight world title opportunity and Khabir thinks he’ll be prepared for that reality soon.
“I think I need about one or two more 10 round fights and I’ll be ready,” said the affable but “Crazy Russian.”
“I’ve been talking to Vince and we want to prepare him for this upcoming year and see what kind of improvements there are. I’m hoping from anywhere between the end of this year and next year,” added trainer Arevalo.
This upcoming 12 months looks to be a year of preparation, hard work and experience for Khabir so that when the call comes for a tussle on the big stage he’ll be locked and loaded. With his crowd pleasing style and a skill set that’s up to par, Khabir “The Crazy Russian” Suleymanov is definitely one to keep an eye out for in 2012.
In his spare time “The Crazy Russian” likes to rap with his friends, make videos and do shows around the city known as the birthplace of gangsta rap. Khabir’s only a gangsta inside the ring and his boy — famous Russian rapper AVK — wrote a song about Khabir and the blood, sweat and tears that go into the worlds hardest sport. The video’s pretty damn good and features video vixen Vida Guerra. You can watch it on Youtube here.
A native of San Diego, Esteban has been following the sweet science since the age of 10, and through his writing, gives a unique perspective on the sport of boxing. An aspiring novelist, Esteban enjoys studying history, politics and crime.
Also find Esteban's work at Leave-it-in-the-RinG Radio, and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter.