Joel Diaz and Vadim Kornilov have a busy night at Kings Theatre
While most of the focus of the boxing world will be on the Showtime card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, there is another card taking place at the Kings Theatre, in the same borough. Real Deal Sports and Entertainment, in conjunction with World of Boxing, is staging a card featuring a group of boxers managed by Vadim Kornilov and trained by Joel Diaz.
One of them is junior welterweight Batyr Ahmedov, 3-0 (2), who, in his third fight, fought for a regional title in a 10-round bout versus Ricky Sismundo. It’s clear he will be moved at a fast pace.
“Batyr is one of those guys that keeps coming; he’s very aggressive,” said Diaz, who works with him daily at his gym in Coachella, California. “He needs some defense; he takes a lot of hits but he’s very busy, consistent and he has a devastating left to the body.”
Like WBA 175-pound titlist Dmitry Bivol (who is also managed by Kornilov), it’s not inconceivable that Ahmedov will be fighting for a title before reaching double digits in the number of fights, as a pro. Diaz says, “I’ve always said these fighters, they have a lot of amateur experience and they have a big amateur resume and they need to be moved fast because, while they’re new to the pro game, their body has been through a lot.”
Ahmedov, a Russian-based Uzbek who represented Turkey in the 2016 Olympics, is already 27 years old.
“So if you carry a fighter that has a big resume in the amateurs and carry them slow in the pros, it’s not good. I’ve seen it with Patrick Lopez; I used to help him and that guy was an Olympian from Venezuela, came to me with a lot of Olympic experience and a lot of people don’t understand this – these guys go through training camps, weight loss. When you have 400 amateurs fights, you put a lot of work in your body and if you move them slow, they’re not going to perform because they get old; they get bored, tired.”
So while it’s like getting a luxury, high-end vehicle, it’s one with 75,000 miles already on the odometer.
Diaz continued, “These Russian guys that I got training here, they need to be moved fast because they got experience, I got Batyr, (Shakram) Giyasov, Murodjon (Akhmadaliev), Radzhab Butaev, these guys are devastating punchers, devastating fighters. They have all the experience.”
But Kornilov points that while boxers from this part of the world come into the pro ranks a bit more seasoned and more physically mature, there isn’t just one road map for his clients. He insists he “looks at each fighter individually. Some guys are younger, Giyasov and Akhmadaliev, who are the two other Olympians who are also fighting this Saturday.”
Those two, who recently made their pro debuts on March 10 in Brooklyn, are 24 and 23 respectively.
“They’re also very interesting prospects that can compete at the top level now but we are not in much of a hurry with them because they are younger fighters and I want them to get more experience in the pros. I want to move them a little slower. So it really depends on where the fighter is, how he looks in the gym and what else he needs to work on to get to the level to fight one of the top champions,” said Kornilov, who has developed a close working relationship with World of Boxing.
And these boxers will not only have a chance to hone their skills consistently with an active schedule but also develop fan-bases in Brooklyn in the upcoming years.
“Evander Holyfield and Real Deal have been a pleasure to work with,” said Kornilov. “World of Boxing came together with them because there’s a fighter that’s included in the WBC (welterweight) tournament that Real Deal is (promoting) and, in that process, they realized that Real Deal has these Brooklyn shows at Kings Theatre and Brooklyn has the top Soviet community in the country and World of Boxing is developing that scene together with Real Deal to try to get the crowd and the fans in Brooklyn to see the Soviet fighters that are coming up.
“It’s a great opportunity for both companies to develop that great arena, which is beautiful, and set up a series of shows every two months that can run there and hopefully the Soviet fans, like the Uzbeks and the other Soviet fans, can come out and support their fighters that are still coming up. It’s a place where these fighters come up and become the next (WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey) Kovalev, Bivol and (Ruslan) Provodnikov.”
There’s still plenty of work to be done to reach those lofty heights but Diaz believes if they don’t get there, it wont be for a lack of effort or work ethic. “I’ve been working with them for a few months already. They’re really good people, very appreciative. They work really hard,” said the respected trainer. “They don’t take no for an answer.”
With them, discipline is a skill.
“Let me tell you why: These guys, when they came to me, they’re like programmed by their promoter. They come here and I can tell you one thing; let’s say Murodjon fights at 122. He was a bronze medalist. He walks around at 130, 131. Batyr fights at 140 and he walks around at 146, 147. Giyasov fights at 147 and he walks around at 152, 153. Butaev fights at 147; he walks around at ’55, ’56. They’re not allowed to eat a burger. They’re not allowed to eat junk food. They’re not allowed to drink any Cokes.
“I mean, they’re just here with a disciplined plan. They come to train and they train really hard.”
And in Diaz and the Coachella Boys and Girls Club, these hopefuls have found the perfect (spartan) setting in which to hone their craft.
Kornilov states, “Joel has been our friend for a long time, ever since Ruslan Provodnikov trained with him and with his camp in Indio, him and (brother) Antonio. It’s a real hardcore, boot camp-type of training. That’s what these guys need. A lot of Olympians, they get used to being treated a little bit more respectful, better, as they were coming up to the Olympics.
“Now turning pro, it’s a new page. They have to start at the bottom and going to Indio and living there and staying there in that boot camp environment, it really makes these fighters respond.”
Indio is one of those places where there is no “there” there. Other boxers like Jessie Magdaleno chafed under this environment and eventually got the hell outta Dodge. But these fighters from a foreign land have a different mentality.
“They understand this is not the amateurs anymore and they have a rocky road,” continued Kornilov.” It’s not an easy road. They have to start from the beginning and grow and that’s what I like about that. Joel is really tough; he works really hard and that’s what’s important. That’s how changes are made.”
Here is this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me. You’ll hear from Hugo Centeno Jr. and Nonito Donaire, who are in action today.
Honestly, I’m all flurried right at this point. Enjoy the weekend, everyone…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.