The WBO middleweight title will be at stake this Sunday night in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, and whoever wins, it will be a Russian boxer who will hold the champion’s belt aloft at the end.
There are more famous Russians in professional boxing, but currently, none more successful.
Meet the country’s sole world title holder – WBO middleweight champion Dmitry Pirog.
The 31-year-old has never tasted defeat in 18 professional bouts, with 14 of those coming by way of knock-out, leaving few observers in doubt that the Russia is one of the most dangerous punchers in his class.
In July last year, Pirog faced another unbeaten fighter, the much-heralded Daniel Jacobs, but the American was humbled with a fifth-round stoppage. That win propelled Pirog into the sport’s elite.
This Sunday in Krasnodar, the champion’s home soil, it is time to push the limits once more. Pirog is taking on a compatriot, the dangerous Gennady Martirosyan.
“It’s a historic moment for our country as it’s the first ever time two Russians will face each other in a world title bout. I’m sure both of us will do our best to produce high quality boxing so may the stronger man win,” says Pirog, adding: “You can’t afford to miss this one. It’s gonna be a war.”
The fighters may have been born in the same year, but Martirosyan has witnessed more ups and downs in that time.
The St. Petersburg-based slugger knows what it is like to suffer defeat and learn from the pain.
His pro record includes two disappointing losses in 24 fights, but he has won five in a row to make it into the title bout against Pirog.
“Dmitry is a true sportsman, and a very good boxer. He’s tall, he’s got vast experience in amateur boxing, and is very skillful. But he’s got weak points, too, and I will expose them in the ring,” Martirosyan notes.
Eighteen pugilists have already found Dmitry Pirog too hard a nut to crack. Gennady Martirosyan now has the chance to rise above those might-have-beens. And if he can attain a slice of this particular pie – Pirog means pie in Russian – the transformation from famine to feast will be completed.