Vyacheslav Shabranskyy quietly awaits his first title shot tonight
“We’ve been saying this through all the interviews: We’re expecting the best Kovalev out there. We’re not taking into consideration his last fight. We’re preparing for the best Kovalev and we wish the best Kovalev will be out there.”
With a week-and-a-half to go, prior to tonight, at the Westside Boxing Club, in Los Angeles California, Edgar Jasso – the right-hand man to head trainer Manny Robles – stood next to Vyacheslav “Lionheart” Shabranskyy for just about every interview, helping detail the obvious questions for a man of few words.
“We’ll see November 25th,” Shabranskyy told UCNLive.com, once Jasso was finished, calling back to the original question of if this was the perfect time to face former unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.
Tonight on HBO (10:00 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT), Shabranskyy faces Kovalev for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title but he hasn’t been the story in the lead-up. Coming off two consecutive defeats to Andre Ward, the state of Kovalev, 30-2-1 (26), is in question, thanks to the details riddled within the long explanations of why he lost those fights, and evidence of such ended with the split from longtime trainer John David Jackson.
Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs), who has been with Robles and Jasso since coming to America, couldn’t care less about Kovalev’s transgressions because seemingly all fighters go through them at one point or another.
“Obviously, it’s the biggest fight of (Shabranskyy’s) life,” Jasso explained. “We have one motto and it’s always ‘Train hard.’ Whether it’s an opponent or for a world title or not. We’re always trying to work as hard as we can. He’s very prepared for it. Mentally, he knows it’s the fight of his life. He’s training, I guess, as hard but with that mentality that we are fighting for the world title.”
In interviews during fight week, Shabranskyy revealed that he overtrained in his only defeat versus Sullivan Barrera, last December, but his issues of finding the canvas started in June 2015 after a match with Paul Parker.
“The only thing that changes are the strategies. We have a very good strategy for this fight,” Jasso proclaimed. “We have different methods we’ve been working on and you’re gonna see it November 25th.”
It’s been a year since the Barrera fight and, with dominant wins over Larry Pryor and Todd Unthank May in the follow-up, Shabranskyy found himself fighting for a world title against Kovalev, after Ward’s retirement last October left the title vacant, when the fight was already signed.
“The position that he’s in, it’s a blessing,” said Jasso. “Not everybody gets to have the opportunity. When he came here to America, when he turned pro, we were scrambling all over the place, and now, to be where he’s at, it’s just a dream come true. He’s very excited and happy to be in the position he’s in.”
Dreams of fighting for a world title have been in Shabranskyy’s head since turning pro, after competing in the World Series of Boxing, “Slava” explained, but he goes into tonight no different than all the other fights.
“Every fight is a world title fight for me,” said Shabranskyy.
Weighing in on Friday afternoon at 174.8 pounds, Shabranskyy remained reserved throughout all the formalities of fight week, leaving the conversation to remain in the court of Kovalev’s trials (Kovalev weighed in at 174 pounds). Not a bad strategy, going into a fight with the Russian, because it’s been the quiet ones who’ve conquered him as of late.