Belarusian Kiryl Relikh wins WBA World Super Lightweight title

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Belarusian Kiryl Relikh wins WBA World Super Lightweight title

After 12 years of anticipation Belarusian boxer Kiryl Relikh is finally a WBA World Super Lightweight Champion. It took him 12 rounds to defeat Rances Barthelemy in San Antonio. CTV’s Sports Week interviewed Kiryl in the boxing gym in Minsk where he prepared for the championship title fight.

How do you feel about becoming a World Super Lightweight Champion?
How do I feel? I am satisfied with myself, that’s for sure. I’ve dedicated my whole life to boxing, to reaching this goal. I’ve reached it and I’m satisfied. Now it’s time to achieve higher goals.

Did the realization of becoming a champion reach you right after the fight or did you have to take some time to get through your emotions?
There was no any kind of realization, to be honest. There was I, a World Champion. It’s no miracle. It’s a simple result of a hard work I’ve done. The plan is executed and it’s time to move on.

The fight itself was a rematch. Did you have any feeling of frustration after the first bout?
I was slightly disappointed. After all, I didn’t do everything I could during the first fight to get a victory. The judges could give us a draw, but I guess he was simply more famous and well-known than me. So I say that was a fair verdict.

Despite the victory in the rematch, it was still a complicated victory. The opponent showed some sucker punches to the gut. How did you manage to get through it?
There were definitely couple of hits below the belt, but I guess they were a demonstration of despair. And I get him. I paid absolutely zero attention to his behavior. I followed the plan for the fight and controlled my emotions. Let this whole situation be on his head.

These two fights would be a good base for a movie, where the first bout is a disputable loss and the rematch, despite all the complications, is a victory leading you to a World Championship title, don’t you think?
Oh, that’s right. Reminds me of Rocky 1&2.

Is it possible to prepare for a World Champion Title match in such conditions?
Well, look around for yourself. I’ve become a World Champion and I managed to prepare in these conditions. It doesn’t matter where you train. What matters is how you train and what your goal is. These conditions are just our day-to-day realities. The harder it is for you train, the easier to win in the boxing ring.

After training in a small gym and poor conditions, is it more challenging to come out and fight on big arenas?
It’s completely alien environment. We are not used to huge boxing gyms and shows.  But anyways it rushes you off your feet and increases your adrenaline level.

Were all the preparations for the fight made in this gym in Minsk or did you also have to go abroad to train?
I had been preparing in Belarus for three months and more than a month in the US to get acclimatized.

What do you think does the Belarusian boxing promotion lack?
There is a Belarusian Boxing Federation. But what does it lack? It’s hard to say whether we lack anything, but still it would be better to receive some more funding and support from the government. We lack skillful boxers in our country. Of course they exist, but you could count them on the fingers of one hand. There are a lot of people involved in boxing but there aren’t many professionals.

You mean that there are no famous boxers who audience would like to see and visit their fights?
There is not enough promotion of boxing in Belarus, that’s why it’s not very popular. Maybe if the media paid more attention to boxing and fighters, the level of awareness among people would increase.

While UFC is more attractive and popular, you could say that boxing is more conservative and classical. Perhaps boxing needs more brilliance and individualism?
Definitely, yes. Boxing needs more popularizing. And I say it again that it would be nice to have more media attention. Even though I try to stay away from all the media events, it is still needed. If you are a success it’s your job to popularize something, communicate with the press. And the media will do the rest.

Wladimir Klitschko won all the belts and titles in his day. Do you have the same goal?
The steps are being done towards this goal. There might be a tournament in my weight and the champion gets all of the titles.