Photo by Bret Newton/Main Events
Team Mohammedi is set to overcome long odds
By Igor Frank
Light heavy weight number one contender from France, Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3,23KO’S) will be a huge betting underdog when he enters the ring this Saturday to challenge hard hitting champion from Russia, Sergey”Krusher”Kovalev (27-0-1,24 KO’S). HBO will televise this championship contest live from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on July 25th.
How big of an underdog is Mohammedi? According to Las Vegas book makers and internet sports wagering sites such as 5Dimes.com and Odds Shark Kovalev is a hundred to one favorite.
To put this in perspective Mike Tyson was only forty to one favorite when Buster Douglas scored one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.
But Nadjib’s new manager, Vince Caruso who openly speaks about overcoming a serious drug addiction to pain killers, said that team Mohammedi was built on overcoming long odds.
“He overcame a lot of hard times himself,” said Caruso about his charge during our interview in Los Angeles when the fight was announced:” He grew up in very impoverished area. He stayed away from organized crime. If you talk to him, a lot of his friends are dead or in jail. The same with me; a lot of my friends are dead or in jail and overdosed on drugs.”
Caruso is no stranger to overcoming long odds. Fourteen years ago Vince was walking alongside Marco Antonio Barrera as his manager when Mexican ring legend took “Prince” Naseem Hamed to school at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Caruso lost his boxing career in a flash due to drug addiction, but he went to a rehab and battled back.
Couple of years ago a friend in Hollywood asked Caruso to help a boxer from Ukraine, Anatoliy Dudchenko to get some fights. Dudchenko got knocked out by Mohammedi exactly thirteen months ago and that’s when Caruso and Nadjib met. A month later Mohammedi called Caruso and asked for help. He needed help to become a star in United States.
“I said, brother, I will give you my life,” recollects Caruso:” But you got to give it back to me and so far it’s been great.”
It’s a very compelling story, but how do you beat “Krusher”, a champ who has been going through top level opponents like fire through forest.
“The only way you are going to beat Sergey Kovalev are three words,” said Caruso:” Mistake free boxing. That’s the only way you beat him. You make a mistake against Sergey Kovalev and he knocks you out.”
To help with mistake free boxing well respected veteran trainer, Abel Sanchez who is universally recognized for grooming another Russian knock out artist, Gennady Golovkin, was commissioned for the job. In yet another curious twist of fate Mohammedi was scheduled to fight on the undercard of Kovalev versus Hopkins in November of last year. Mohammedi’s trainer got a tourist instead of work visa and was not allowed to enter United States to be in his fighter’s corner.
Caruso asked Abel Sanchez to help. “We brought Abel on board and everything is clicking, “said Caruso:” He is learning with Abel.” Since then Mohammedi moved to train with Abel Sanchez at the “Summit” at Big Bear Mountains in Southern California. Aside from having reputation as disciplinarian and a teacher Abel Sanchez knows Kovalev intimately, because he used to train him prior to David Jackson.
“Who is Abel?” inquired Kovalev when asked if he was concerned about Sanchez training his opponent. Still, it’s an interesting sub plot for the upcoming fight.
“He’s got Abel Sanchez,” continued Caruso:” He’s got Ben Lira and he’s got me. That’s over 90 years in this business, combined. Now we can’t fight the fight for him, but I like our chances going in with that crew right there.”
Contact Igor Frank via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter(Fightmonger)