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19 Feb, 2008 02:25

Road to the ring: southpaw 'shorty' Sultan Ibragimov

It's billed as the fight of the decade. Russian Sultan Ibragimov and Ukrainian Vladimir Klitschko are set to slug it out for the world heavyweight unification belt. The pair will meet on Saturday in New York.

Sultan Ibragimov became known after he brought back a silver medal from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Though he's rather short for a heavyweight – less than 1.9 meters high – his powerful style has elevated him to the top of the professional ranks.

'The hunter' – that’s how many have described Sultan Ibragimov in the ring. Many say he moves slowly, carefully, as if stalking his prey, before delivering his attack.

Shannon Briggs, the gigantic WBO champion, seemed to disbelieve that this runty Russian almost two heads lower than him not only lasted the whole 12 rounds, but also managed to land dozens of telling shots, which were enough to secure an unanimous victory decision and walk away with the 3-kilogram championship belt.

Sultan's current record speaks for itself – 22 wins, 17 knockouts. No losses.

Sultan uses the 'southpaw' fighting style. It is a left-handed stance, which is very hard to deal with for a boxer using the regular orthodox style. Not only is Ibragimov still undefeated, but he's only the fifth southpaw boxer in history to become world champion.

He's already had to defend his WBO belt in Moscow against boxing legend Evander Holyfield. The bout was tight and tactical, but Sultan came out winner according to the judges' decision.

Ahead of the big bout with Klitschko, Sultan is aware that most boxing experts consider him the underdog. Many want to market the bout as another round of competition between two former states of the Soviet Union.

But the 31-year-old fighter ignores these political overtones and instead just ups his ante in the gym even more. For him it’s just another day, just another fight.

Russia Today will be having Road-to-the-ring updates each day leading up to the Klitschko-Ibragimov fight. Keep watching!