If you can ignore the Belarusian accent and overlook the missing Philadelphia slang, this guy sounds an awful lot like Rocky Balboa.
“Yo, Adrian. It‘s me, Rocky.”
Honest. It’s spooky.
If we could just get him to recite a few lines, say something like, “I can’t see nothin’. Ya gotta open my eye,” or “Yo Paulie. Your sister's with me. I‘ll call ya back later.”
Yeah, that would work. Then you’d know what I’m talking about.
Heavyweight contender Sergei Liakhovich (or Lyakhovich) not only sounds like Rocky, he’s got the kind of nickname the Italian Stallion would smile at.
Now fighting out of Arizona by way of Belarus, Liakhovich goes by the nickname “The White Wolf.”
If he’s as tough as Rocky but can also fight just a little – maybe throw a good-looking jab now and then – he might have a chance against Apollo Cree….er, “Relentless” Lamon Brewster on April 1. That’s when Brewster defends his WBO title against Sergei at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University in – you got it – Cleveland.
I’m sure there’s a fine reason why this fight ended up in Cleveland, but I don’t care why. What I do know is, I don’t have to catch a plane to Ohio to see it. It will be televised on Showtime starting at the late hour of 11 p.m. That’s because of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that night. They also told us it’s a free weekend of Showtime, so you don‘t even have to be a Showtime subscriber to watch it.
It’s one of the reasons we love this game.
At 22-1 with 14 knockouts, Liakhovich, a former Olympian, has a fair record coming into this fight, though he hasn’t fought since he beat Dominick Guinn almost 16 months ago, back in December 2004. A chest injury kept him out of the game for awhile, and they kept switching opponents on him. He was supposed to fight Chris Byrd at one time and he was also scheduled to fight Owen Beck this past September, but that fight fell through.
So now he gets a shot at the WBO title against Brewster (33-2, 29 KOs), who has eight knockouts in his last nine fights, stopping, among others, Andrew Golota and Wladimir Klitschko.
Asked on a recent conference call about ring rust, Sergei didn’t sound too concerned about it.
“When you stay active in the gym and train and spar, I don’t think (the long layoff) will effect me,” he said. “I‘m ready right now. 110 percent.”
Sergei’s trainer, Kenny Weldon, said the change in opponents has forced Sergei to adapt in the ring.
“He’s been training (for Brewster) for seven weeks,” Weldon said. “And he was already in good shape. We prepared for Byrd, then we prepared for Beck. He’s become very adjustable to different styles.”
Weldon said Brewster might have one of the toughest styles to adjust to.
“Brewster has an oddity in his style,” Weldon said. “He doesn’t throw so much a wide hook, he throws a pull hook. He takes his head across before he takes his hand across, and that makes a lot of difference for guys who aren’t getting the right kind of boxing. It’s very powerful and great for him and God gave it to him. He fools a lot of fighters with that.”
Weldon added that if Brewster and trainer Buddy McGirt were looking at film of Sergei’s last few fights, they’d probably figure he was made to order for Brewster.
“But,” Weldon said, “that’s not the Sergei they’re going to be fighting. Sergei can fight any way he needs to fight to win, and that‘s what it‘s all about…He‘s really ready. And until we get in there, the talk don‘t mean nothing.”
The talk might not mean anything, but the voice sure sounds familiar.