Evgeny Gradovich received a timely boost ahead of his title defense against Lee Selby on Saturday night at The O2 in London live as the IBF named him their boxer of the year.
The Russian Featherweight defends his belt for the fifth time against Selby and picked up the award thanks to a successful run of defenses since taking the title from Billy Dib in March 2013, seeing off Mauricio Munoz, Dib in a rematch and Alexander Miskirtchian before a split draw in November against Jayson Velez.
Gradovich will be wary of the threat posed by the confident Welshman who has vowed to bring his best to London in his first title fight, but the 28 year old visiting champ insists he is not concerned by the challenge.
“He’ll want to be at his best because he’s the home fighter but for me it doesn’t matter where I fight because I am the champion.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to box in England for the first time and I am really looking forward to the challenge.
“I am not going to let him take the title from me. I worked too hard to get it and even harder to keep it. I love being the World champion, it’s the best feeling in the world and I want to keep that feeling going. Boxing is my passion, I love every bit of it, and boxing at the elite level like I do is like nothing else, it’s just my favorite thing to do.
“The camp has been good, I’ve been working hard and I try to do my best. We don’t prepare for a special fight, we always prepare well. All my training camps are good because everyone in my team are people that I believe in and they work so hard to get it right on the night.”