Evgeny Gradovich received a timely boost ahead of his World title defence against Lee Selby on Saturday night at The O2 in London live on Sky Sports Box Office as the IBF named him their boxer of the year.
The Russian Featherweight king defends his belt for the fifth time against Selby and picked up the award thanks to a successful run of defences 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 World title fight, but the 28 year old visiting champ insists he is not concerned by the challenge posed by ‘The Welsh Mayweather’.
“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,” said Gradovich. “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 favourite 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.”
Gradovich’s defence against Selby is one of three World title fights on a massive night of action as Kell Brook defends his IBF World Welterweight title against Frankie Gavin and Kevin Mitchell challenges Jorge Linares for the WBC Lightweight title.
Olympic Heavyweight hero Anthony Joshua MBE faces his toughest test in the paid ranks against former World title challenger Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson and there are three great all-domestic title dust-ups.
John Ryder faces Nick Blackwell for the vacant British Middleweight title, Scotty Cardle and Craig Evans clash for the vacant British Lightweight title and Dave Ryan defends his Commonwealth Light Welterweight strap against John Wayne Hibbert. Former World champion Nathan Cleverly is in action and Lucien Reid makes his pro debut.
Limited tickets remain on sale for the bumper night of boxing at The O2 priced at £40 and £60 from www.theO2.co.uk and on 0844 856 0202.