The ferocious Hovhannes Bachkov left a trail of destruction in his wake after a series of devastating sparring sessions, new coach Manny Robles has revealed.
And since the Olympic medallist has moved to California to train, word has quickly spread about the savage super lightweight, with Freddie Roach among a new army of fans.
Backhov, 29, returns to the ring on Friday night, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in a 10 round contest against Mexico’s Marcos Gonzalez Barraza.
The double-European Amateur Championships gold medallist will go 4-0 with a win and plans to use 2023 to move into world title contention at 140lbs.
Robles, one of the world’s leading trainers, insists there is plenty for Bachkov to work on but can’t hide his excitement about a fighter who, he says, has a style reminiscent of the great Roberto Duran.
“We’ve done a lot of sparring back in Los Angeles, he must have sparred 10 different guys and he would take them out one at a time!” Robles told Probellum.com.
“I was like: ‘Man, I’ve got to step it up and try to find you tougher sparring’, because the guys that I was putting him up against were not lasting, he was knocking them out.
“There came a point where I had to put him in with 147lbs and 154lbs boxers. He was like: ‘Why are you doing this to me?!’ I said: ‘Because everybody in your weight, you’re knocking them out!’. He pretty much ran through everybody.
“So, I would have to start visiting different gyms in Southern California. For one, Freddie Roach at the Wild Card, got a chance to see Bachkov. I have a great relationship with Freddie, and he said to me: “Where did you find this guy?! This guy’s good!”
Robles is trying to improve Bachkov’s ability to cut off the ring, his lateral movement and counterpunching – “I want to see how he listens to me on Friday night” – but says there is a reason why the Armenian has already achieved so much.
“He’s a very physical fighter, who doesn’t take a step back,” he said.
“If I had to compare him to someone, stylistically – and I know this is big – but I would say, Roberto Duran.
“Obviously, that’s a lot to say, especially when we speak of someone like Roberto Duran, who accomplished so much in boxing, but as far as styles go, he’s right there.
“He’s just aggressive, strong and very physical and then he’ll hunt you down. And he’ll systematically break you down until you can no longer continue.
“He’s definitely the type of fighter that you’re not going to get off your back that easy. He’s going to be on you. He does a great job going to the body. He’s very meticulous and he doesn’t waste a lot of punches.”
Robles is excited about the big fights that lay ahead in the super lightweight division but has urged a degree of caution about moving Bachkov too quickly towards world title fights.
“The division is stacked with talent and there are a lot of great fighters in the weight class,” Robles added.
“Regis Prograis just beat Jose Zepeda, in a great fight, a great fight for the fans, for boxing, for the sport.
“You’ve got Teofimo Lopez at 140 as well, and that would be a great fight.
“Styles make fights, so with Regis, it would be an incredible fight. And with Teofimo Lopez, I believe, it would be an incredible fight as well, given the opportunity. But we’re a few fights away from that.
“So hopefully we start off on the right foot, end the year with a good win and start the year right away. I want him back in the gym as early as January. He’ll go home and visit his family, first, but if he wants to become a world champion, he’s got to stay busy.
“He only has three professional fights, but he has had a great amateur career and that’s why he’s fighting 10 rounds, but we just have to be careful with the way we match him up and who we fight him against. Styles make fights. And then when I feel that he’s ready to fight the best fighters out there, then we’ll go ahead and make a move.”
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