At 35 years of age, former WBO heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich, 25-4, 16 KOs, has been around the boxing block a few times. However, the mileage he has logged in the ring figures to be his biggest advantage in his next fight. Liakhovich will take on the younger and perhaps hungrier Bryant Jennings, 27, in a 10-round heavyweight contest on the latest edition of the nationally televised “Fight Night” boxing series on the NBC Sports Network, March 24th from Brooklyn, NY. The broadcast begins at 10PM ET.
“The biggest problem for him will be my experience,” said Liakhovich.
And that experience is formidable. He had an all-star amateur career with a 145-15 record and numerous titles, trophies and medals to his credit. As a professional, Sergei has met top heavies like Lamon Brewster, Shannon Briggs, Nikolay Valuev, Dominick Guinn and Maurice Harris. Liakhovich did not beat them all, but he learned valuable lessons that make him the fighter he is today.
His career-best performance was his title-winning effort against Lamon Brewster in 2006. In that fight, Liakhovich seemed to come from nowhere to beat the streaking Brewster who had defeated Wladimir Klitschko and a long line of other A-list big men. But Liakhovich defied the odds to capture the WBO belt by unanimous decision.
“What I remember most is the fight,” Liakhovich said. “I was just 29 years old. I fought Brewster for the world title and I won the world title.”
In the six years that have passed since that fight, Liakhovich has experienced a few bumps in the road, including his last bout, a TKO loss to Robert Helenius in Germany. But Liakhovich feels that the trials he has encountered have made him battle-tested and ready for the second half of his career.
“You have to learn from your mistakes and move forward,” Liakhovich said. “You have to take the experiences with you. Look forward, move forward.”
The relatively inexperienced Bryant Jennings, 12-0, 5 KOs, played leap-frog in January when he stepped up at the last minute to fill the void left when fellow-Philadelphian Eddie Chambers pulled out the first “Fight Night” main event. Chambers was to have fought Liakhovich that night, but the fighter’s exit forced promoter Main Events and match maker J Russell Peltz to find a whole new feature bout. Jennings answered the call, and won that bout against another undefeated prospect, Maurice Byarm. The victory in his very first main event thrust Jennings into the spotlight and put him on a path that Liakhovich thinks he may not be quite ready for.
“I saw the fight,” Liakhovich said. “He is young, has decent speed, decent power. He is a decent fighter. I will take him into the deep water and see how he does.”
Speaking from his Las Vegas training camp, Liakhovich said that he and trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad have prepared for anything that Jennings brings into the fight. And although the former champion says that his goal is to again fight for the world title, he’s not getting ahead of himself.
“First is first,” Liakhovich said. “I’m focused on beating Jennings. We’ll see what he has and then we’ll go from there.”