By Vladimir Lik, OpeningRound.com Contributor
For a hulking pro boxer who physically resembles the actual mountains of the small Russian industrial city from which he comes from, Alexey Zubov relies equally on his smarts as he does his devastating right hook.The 200 pound cruiserweight is 6-0 with 4 knockouts as a professional and recently signed with Star of David Promotion as he hopes to be the next rising star to come from Eastern Europe.
“Alexey is a very exciting boxer because he throws a lot of punches and is very dedicated to his craft,”says Dmitriy Salita of Star of David Promotions, who first saw Zubov at the world famous Cronk gym where Zubov got himself a job as a sparring partner for then heavyweight contender Jonathan Banks.
I caught up with Alexey by phone from his native Russia as he prepares to travel to New York City for his next fight January 22nd at Webster Hall.
Who is Alexey Zubov
Alexey Zubov is a Russian amateur champion in the Cruiserweight division with over 100 wins. I have been training since I was 13 years old I am very excited for everyone to know who I am. My goal is to prove to everyone including myself that I can be the best.
When did you know you wanted to become a fighter?
When I was 16 I knew this is what I wanted to do and I am fortunate that I had the support of my parents to pursue it.
Why do you fight?
In the beginning it was to be able stand up for myself. This was always very important for me. Now I fight to prove to everyone including myself that I can be the best in the world. That is my single motivation. To just be the best and this is why I train very hard.
Tell me what training camp is like for you?
It usually begins at 10 am with a light run. I then spend 3-5 hours a day sparring and figuring out different rhythms get the best of my opponent.To me boxing is as much about the mind as it is about the body so I concentrate on both.
You are an amateur champion in Russia. How does the amateur fight world differ from professional.
Everything is different. Professional means it’s a business and the stakes are now higher. In Russia all we have are the amateurs. It is difficult to get the same opportunities here as there are in the United States. That’s why I am going there. Boxing in the United States is more or organized. There are rules. In Russia it is very different.
Tell me about where you are from and your upbringing?
I am from a city called Chelyabinsk where I still live to this day. Growing up I remember always wanting to be the best. It did not matter what it was for because I am just super competitive. I really need to prove to everyone that I can do it better. I will work harder, smarter and wont stop.
Who is part of your team?
Ultimately I am my own team. I am responsible if I win or lose or how hard I train. When I am in the United States I train with Charles Mooney who also trains Matt Korobov. I have my manager Leo and my promoter Dmitriy who will help me get to the next level but I am responsible. It ends with me.
You recently signed with Dmitriy Salita’s Star of David Promotions. What made you choose them?
I met Dmitriy several times even when he was training for his own fights. I really get along with him and we share the same vision. He invited me to compete on one of his shows and I am impressed with him. I think he is the one who will help me move my career forward.
You are presently a cruiserweight. Are you going to move to heavyweight soon?
No not soon. I want to stay a cruiserweight for at least 2 years and capture a word title first. Becoming a heavyweight boxer is not just adding a few extra pounds.It’s about adapting to a new technique and style. “
If you could describe your fighting style in three words, what would it be?
Smart, cunning, strong.
Why should the cruiserweight division fear you?
Because I am a smart fighter. I use my mind a lot in the ring to figure out my opponent and yes I can also start throwing punches and not stop until the referee pulls me away if that’s what needs to happen.
Tell me about your next fight.
I am very excited about it. It is in New York and I will put on a great show for everyone. I am building my fan base in the United States and my name. This fight will help me I am sure.
Who are some of your role models?
Definitely my friends Sergey Kovalev and Matt Korobov. They both showed me it is possible to come to the United States and make a name for yourself. I am proud of both of them.
DId you watch Sergey Kovalev’s recent fight with Bernard Hopkins?
Oh yes! Absolutely! I was so excited for him. He gives it his all in the ring. It motivates me a lot and I am going to watch Korobov too. I was in camp with him and tried to help him for his upcoming fight.
Tell me about the music you listen to during training?
I don’t listen to anything particular. Whatever touches the soul. I need to make sure my mind is right and I am focused and in the zone so whatever helps me get there.
If you could choose one ring walk song, what would it be?
“It’s my life” by Bon Jovi.
That’s an interesting choice. Tell me why?
Because it gets me moving and it’s now or never for me (laughing)
Which fighters past or present would you like to fight?
I would like to fight Roy Jones Jr. I have admired him for many years and he is very smart in the ring. I think I will meet him in the ring someday. That’s when I know I have arrived.