INDIO, California, December 15, 2016 –Ukrainian light heavyweight Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (17-0, 14 KOs) first got the attention of American fans in December 2015 with an entertaining majority decision victory over Yunieski Gonzalez of Cuba. Fans gave both boxers a standing ovation at the end of 10 rounds. Since then, Shabranskyy has scored two third round stoppages against Derrick Findlay and Oscar Rojas.
Shabranskyy hopes to make a similar statement in the main event Friday, December 16 against a more significant opponent, Cuban Sullivan Barrera (17-1, 12 KOs). The fight airs as part of a tripleheader on HBO Latino from the Fantasy Springs Resort in Indio, California starting at 10 p.m. ET.
“This time, (training camp) very intense, longer than usual. It was totally worth it, I feel 100 percent ready, I feel I’m ready to take on any challenge at this point,” said Shabranskyy.
“I’m trying to learn every single day and bring something new to the table. I come from a different background than American amateur boxing. I feel a huge difference now that I’m training in the U.S. and combining the styles … The science of boxing here is completely diff here than in Ukraine. The approach, the training, the psychology of it is very different,” said Shabranskyy, who works with Manuel Robles.
Barrera is coming off a difficult loss to Andre Ward in March. Both men have significant motivation to shine. Shabranskyy wants to put an exclamation point on a great year and face the top names in the light heavyweight division like Ward and Sergey Kovalev. Barrera wants to restore some luster to his reputation after his loss.
Barrera is now training with Derik Santos, reportedly because he prefers to train at home in Miami. Shabranskyy said Barrera’s mistake against Andre Ward as failing to change his style for Ward’s technical, cerebral style of boxing. He said it didn’t really teach him much about Barrera, so he’s prepared for anything.
“This is a good fight for fans,” Shabranskyy told Ringside Seat through wife and translator Deena Shabranskyy. “I’m ready for any challenge; a brawl, classic boxing, anything new he (Barrera) isn’t showing. It won’t be a boring fight. Both of us are truly aggressive fighters inside the ring. Fans are going to appreciate it.”
Nicknamed “Chingonskyy” by his promoter Oscar De La Hoya for his take-no-prisoners attitude, Shabranskyy is one of a growing number of Eastern European transplants who have found a home in Southern California and success adapting to the aggressive, fan-friendly Mexican style of boxing.
It might seem a strange fit, but Shabranskyy says the two cultures are very similar and he considers Los Angeles his second home now. “When I first came here in 2010, I didn’t speak a word of English. My current trainer, Manuel Robles, embraced me. He brought him to his home for Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2010. I was introduced to American culture, and Hispanic culture. It feels very comfortable. (Mexican people) are simple generous people, all about family. I value that,” Shabranskyy explained.
The nickname “Chingonskyy” requires some explanation. If you don’t speak Spanish, the most polite translation is “bad ass.” Now imagine Samuel L. Jackson calling someone a bad MF, and you’ve got a better idea.
“Oscar (De La Hoya) gave me that nickname. I would hear this word here and there. Then Oscar said Chingonskyy. What is that, where did that come from?” Shabranskyy said, with wife and translator Deena joining him in laughter. “My trainer said ‘Slava, it’s not a bad thing!’”
“I am very grateful the Hispanic community embraced me. Boxing in LA is very diverse. This was a big thing for me. Will I be accepted? Will anyone come to my shows? Does anyone care? Now when I hear people call me Slava, or Chingonsky, I love it.”
Shabranskyy looks back on 2016 feeling accomplished. “Up to today, I’m very happy with how things have turned out.” Ring Magazine ranks Shabranskyy tenth in the division; others have him hovering just outside the Top Ten. “I’m honored to be in the Top Ten in Ring Magazine. It’s one of the old school rankings that still stands up today,” said Shabranskyy.
“The light heavyweight division is filled with excellent talent. If everything goes well, which it should on December 16, it should bring me better opportunities. Hopefully 2017 will bring me many opportunities.”
Both Shabranskyy and Barrera made the 175-pound weight limit with ease Thursday, Shabranskyy at 174.8 and Barrera at 174.6.
The Golden Boy Promotions event originally planned a co-main event featuring number one junior welterweight contender Antonio “Relentless” Orozco (25-0, 16 KOs) of San Diego against Fidel Maldonado Jr. (22-3-1, 19 KOs) of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The fight was called off when Orozco fainted Thursday morning prior to the weigh-in, reportedly due to dehydration.
Welterweights Eddie Gomez (19-1, 11 KOs) from Bronx, New York and “Speedy” Rashidi Ellis (16-0, 11 KOs) of Lynn, Massachusetts will now step up to the co-main event. The fight is for the IBF North American title. Gomez has scored three straight wins after an upset loss in 2014, most recently a close decision in May. After fighting in Puerto Rico in 2014 and 2015, Ellis fought on the undercard of Canelo vs. Khan in May and won a shutout unanimous decision in eight rounds, then survived a knockdown to win a solid decision in July against a horribly overweight opponent. Both fighters would like to make a statement about their future Friday. Ellis weighed in at 146.6, Gomez at 146.
One fighter’s misfortune is another’s opportunity. Stepping up to the HBO Latino broadcast is a solid match of two Southern California featherweights, Ronny Rios (26-1, 11 KOs), 26 and Roy Tapia (12-1-2, 6 KOs), 25. Rios hopes to use the opportunity to score a title fight in 2017, perhaps the vacant WBC super bantamweight title now available due to the retirement of Japanese champion Hozumi Hasegawa. Tapia only loss was a narrow split decision, and he’d like to put it behind him with a good performance of his own. Well-prepared fighters seize these moments and make the most of them, as they don’t present themselves too often.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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