Tournament «World Champion Hill», Kyiv, 19 Apr 2008
After more than sixteen years since claiming its independence, the waiting is finally over for Ukraine. Recently created K2 East promotional group (K2 and former National Box Promotions mutual project) presents a historical event on Saturday, April 19, when unbeaten WBA interim welterweight beltholder Yuri Nuzhnenko will become the first fighter from Ukraine to put his regalia at stake in front of the home crowd in the first ever title fight in Ukrainian boxing history. The show will be held at Sports Palace in Kiev, state’s capital and its largest city.
Nuzhnenko (27-0, 13 KOs), 31, faces little-known Puerto-Rican Irving Garcia (16-3-1, 8 KOs), who is currently ranked #15 by the World Boxing Association, in an optional defense of his title. Nuzhnenko, a pro since 2000, acquired his belt last December with a close but unanimous victory over Frenchman Frederic Klose on his foe’s turf. Despite a solid record Yuri is relatively untested on the highest level as he has never met any former champions or title challengers inside the ring.
Garcia, two years his younger, is an experienced competitor, who started his career in 1998. He is a former Puerto-Rican light middleweight and WBC Latino welterweight titlist but despite fighting over ten years as a pro, Irving’s ledger consists of only 20 fights (7 less than in Yuri’s record); the majority of these bouts were against a non-descript opposition. Garcia is 2-0 since losing by second-round TKO in his initial step-up competition versus Said Ouali a year ago.
Both pugilists will be presented to public and media on Wednesday during an open workout.
Garcia isn’t an original opponent for Yuri. Nuzhnenko was first slated to face hard-nosed Mexican veteran Cosme ‘El Chino’ Rivera (31-11-2, 22 KOs), by far more accomplished fighter than Garcia, who was stopped only once in his eleven losses and that was against than undisputed welterweight king Zab Judah. Rivera possesses victories over such notables as James Hare and Hercules Kyvelos, and he also floored young stars-in-making Andre Berto and Joel Jair Julio though losing them on points.
“Cosme is really a tough guy. He is tall, long-armed, awkward and extremely experienced so that I realize this fight will definitely be no walk in the park for me. Having said that, I want to ensure everybody that I’m hundred percent ready for the bout and see nothing except of my convincing victory over Mexican. I will be glad if the fight ends prematurely but I don’t mind clinching a win on points as well”, said Nuzhnenko a few days ago. ‘El Chino’ would have been his toughest career test but…
He was tested positive on undeclared illegal substance after his recent win over former Columbian Olympian Raul Pinzon this February. The Mexican’s probe was revealed on Wednesday and after a few days of confusion a decision was made to replace Rivera with Garcia, who is a newcomer in recent WBA March rankings, and to arrange a title match with the latter.
“Certainly, I’m disappointed with this change”, commented Nuzhnenko. “However, I’m totally focused on the new opponent and ready to deliver my A game next Saturday night. Garcia is a seasoned opponent. He is a usual Puerto Rican pugilist, durable and technically competent”.
The Nuzhnenko-Garcia showdown will become the sixth ever championship bout to be held in former USSR, and Ukraine will be the third ex-Soviet republic to host it. In July 1993 Al ‘Ice’ Cole successfully defended his IBF cruiserweight belt against Brit Glenn McCrory at Olympiyski Sports Palace, Moscow. Eight years after another IBF 200lb king Vassily Jirov easily knocked out mismatched Alex Gonzalez in voluntary defense of his belt. In December 2006 Vladimir Hrunov promoted a show which was marked with a fight between Oleg Maskaev and Peter Okhello for the WBC heavyweight crown in Moscow, and in a year Yuri Fedorov Sports Lab arranged the first ever title doubleheader in Russian boxing history with Sultan Ibragimov – Evander Holyfield (WBO heavyweight) and Dmitry Kirillov – Jose Navarro (IBF super flyweight) championships also in Russian capital.
After a chain of setbacks suffered by Russian fighters in recent months Ukraine with 5 champions holding 6 titles in 5 different weight divisions (Wladimir Sidorenko (WBA Bantamweight), Andreas Kotelnik (WBA light welterweight), Nuzhnenko, Sergiy Dzinziruk (WBO light middleweight) and Wladimir Klitschko (IBF & WBO heavyweight)) is a definite leader and shining emblem of former Soviet boxing system, losing only to USA, Mexico and Great Britain when an international scale is applied.
Also on the card young middleweight talent Maxim Bursak (13-0, 3 KOs) will go ten rounds against 19-year old Georgian import Mikhail Khicishvili (10-2-2, 3 KOs) for the vacant IBF youth crown. Khicishvili will be fighting outside of the homeland for the first time in his career.
Belarussian giant (6’8 ft) and former K-1 star Alexander Ustinov (8-0, 8 KOs) will test his skills against American journeyman Sedreck Fields (22-36-2, 16 KOs). Sydney Olympics heavyweight bronze medalist for Georgia Vladimir Chanturia (9-0, 5 KOs) faces upset-minded Ukrainian trial-horse Andrey Kondrich (3-6, 2 KOs).
Young guns Igor Bursak (Maxim’s brother, 4-0, 3 KOs), Alaudin Murtazaliev (4-1, 3 KOs) and Dmitry Nikulin (10-0, 4 KOs) will also be showcased during the fight night in separate bouts.
22 Apr 2008 » 15:58
Garcia Seeks Rematch With Nuzhnenko
Welterweight contender Irving Garcia and his camp arrived from Kiev Ukraine today with a look of disappointment following their controversial draw with undefeated Ukrainian Yuriy Nuzhnenko last Saturday. The bout was stopped after ten rounds of action, due to a cut suffered by Nuzhnenko, which was caused by an accidental headbutt earlier in the fight. One judge had Nuzhnenko winning by one point (96-95), while the other read more ...
21 Apr 2008 » 17:01
Nuzhnenko keeps belt with draw!
In the first ever title fight in Ukrainian boxing history local hero Yuri Nuzhnenko (27-0-1, 13 KOs) failed to live up to expectations barely retaining his WBA interim welterweight belt via a technical draw with Puerto Rican import Irving Garcia (16-3-2, 8 KOs). The Nuzhnenko-Garcia showdown was a main event of another telling tournament arranged by K2 East Promotions at the Sports Palace in Kiev, Ukraine read more ...
20 Apr 2008 » 02:16
Nuzhnenko–Garcia in tech draw!
In the first ever title fight in Ukrainian boxing history, which ended moments ago at Kiev Sports Palace, local hero Yuri Nuzhnenko (27-0-1, 13 KOs) failed to live up to expectations, barely retaining his WBA interim welterweight belt via a technical draw with Puerto Rican import Irving Garcia (16-3-2, 8 KOs). WBA #15 Garcia, a late sub for Mexican Cosme Rivera, applied a wise tactical approach by fighting Nuzhnenko behind the jab read more ...
14 Apr 2008 » 16:31
Nuzhnenko-Garcia on April 19!
After more than sixteen years since claiming its independence, the waiting is finally over for Ukraine. Recently created K2 East promotional group (K2 and former National Box Promotions mutual project) presents a historical event on Saturday, April 19, when unbeaten WBA interim welterweight beltholder Yuri Nuzhnenko will become the first fighter from Ukraine to put his regalia at stake in front of the home crowd in the first read more ...