Sultan Ibragimov

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Sultan Ibragimov
Султан Ибрагимов
Statistics
Real nameSultan-Ahmed
Magomedsalihovich
Ibragimov
Weight(s) Heavyweight
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Reach193 cm (76 in)
NationalityRussian
Born (1975-03-08) 8 March 1975 (age 46)
Tlyarata, Dagestan ASSR, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Stance Southpaw
Boxing record
Total fights24
Wins22
Wins by KO17
Losses1
Draws1

Sultan-Ahmed Magomedsalihovich Ibragimov (Russian : Султан-Ахмед Магомедсалихович Ибрагимов; born 8 March 1975) [1] is a retired Russian professional boxer of Dagestani descent who competed from 2002 to 2008, and held the WBO world heavyweight title from 2007 to 2008. [2] He was ranked by BoxRec as the world's top 10 heavyweight from 2005 to 2008, reaching his highest ranking of world No. 5 in 2007. [3] As an amateur he won silver medals at the 2000 Olympics and 2000 European Championships, and bronze at the 2001 World Championships, all in the heavyweight division.

Contents

Ibragimov is one of six southpaws to become world heavyweight champion: the others being Michael Moorer, Corrie Sanders, Chris Byrd, Ruslan Chagaev, and Charles Martin. He remains one of only five former world heavyweight champions, alongside Gene Tunney, Rocky Marciano, Riddick Bowe and Nicolai Valuev to have never suffered a stoppage defeat. He also holds the second least career losses among former world heavyweight champions, having only lost to Wladimir Klitschko in his final fight. As of November 2020, BoxRec ranks Ibragimov as the 7th greatest Russian fighter of all time, pound-for-pound. [4]

Amateur career

Ibragimov took up boxing at the age of 17, when he came to Rostov-on-Don and joined a local college, training under a tutelage of Anatoly Chernyayev. Soon after he was spotted by the AIBA Vice President and Russia's top boxing official Ramazan Abacharayev, his compatriot from Dagestan, who became his trainer and mentor for a long time.

Ibragimov had over 130 fights as an amateur, competing in heavyweight, claiming 135 victories, and having at least 6 known losses (no stoppages.)

Highlights

Professional career

Early fights

After turning professional, Ibragimov agreed to be managed by Boris Grinberg. He was also supported by the Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. [5] Ibragimov made his professional boxing debut on 25 May 2002, defeating Tracy Williams by first-round knockout. [6] He won his first four fights by KO/TKO in the first round each. Just two weeks after his fourth bout, Ibragimov defeated Lincoln Luke by second-round TKO in what would be his last fight in 2002. [6] In his sixth bout, Ibragimov, with a perfect record of 5 bouts, 5 wins, 5 KOs, faced Chad Butler, who had a 4–0–0 record with 4 KOs coming into the fight. Ibragimov knocked Butler down three times but could not finish him, ultimately winning the fight by unanimous decision (UD) with scores 59–52 (twice) and 58–53. [6] Ibragimov later described the fight as the toughest and the most interesting of his career: "[Coming into the fight] I had five bouts and [scored] five knockouts, he had four fights and [scored] four knockouts. He was being knocked down but kept moving forward. If he hadn't ended up in prison, he would've accomplished a lot because of his assertivity." [7] During the fight, legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee was spotted in Ibragimov's corner. In the post-fight interview, Dundee confirmed his return to professional boxing and that it was Ibragimov who convinced him to come out of retirement. He praised Ibragimov for his talent and boxing IQ, and predicted Ibragimov to become the future world heavyweight champion. [5]

Ibragimov had his next fight less than a month later against Brazilian journeyman Carlos Barcelete. It was Ibragimov's first professional fight that took place in his native Russia. Ibragimov made a quick work of Barcelete, sending him to the canvas in the 2nd and knocking him out in the following round with a left hook. Barcelete was reportedly unconscious for an extended period of time, and had to be woken up by the ringside doctors. [8] After the fight, Dundee once again praised Ibragimov for his performance: "America might finally see a great white heavyweight champion for the first time in 50 years." [8] Ibragimov stayed in Russia for his next fight against Marcus McGee. It was Ibragimov's first 8-round fight of his professional career. Ibragimov defeated McGee by eighth-round TKO. [6] After scoring two more first-round stoppages, Ibragimov then faced his former teammate Alexey Osokin, defeating him by a wide unanimous decision. [6]

Ibragimov then returned to the United States, defeating Onebo Maxime by fifth-round TKO. [9] Less than two months later, Ibragimov faced Najee Shaheed in a 12-round bout for the WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title as part of the double-header which also featured Timur Ibragimov (who was referred to as Sultan's cousin, despite the fact that Sultan and Timur are not related) [10] against Shawn Robinson. Sultan knocked out Shaheed in the third round. [11] [6] WBO president Luis Perez, who attended the fight, praised Sultan for his performance and said that Ibragimov would be eligible to become the mandatory challenger for the WBO world heavyweight championship after two or three successful defenses of the regional title. [12] By November 2004, Ibragimov was ranked WBO's No. 14 heavyweight contender. [13]

In his fifth and final fight of 2004, Ibragimov faced James Walton in his first defense of the Asia Pacific title. In the second round, Ibragimov sent Walton through the ropes with a series of body shots, however the referee concluded that the punches were below the belt and deducted two points from Ibragimov. [12] Walton did not come out of his corner for the seventh round, prompting the referee to stop the fight and declare Ibragimov the winner by sixth-round TKO. [6] [14] At the conclusion of 2004, Ibragimov had a perfect record of 14–0 with 12 KOs and was ranked No. 11 heavyweight contender by WBO. [15] [16]

Ibragimov vs. Cole, Lawrence, Ahunanya

Ibragimov then took a big step up in competition when he agreed to face former IBF world cruiserweight champion Al Cole on 3 March 2005. The fight took place at the Madison Square Garden Theater and headlined the card that also featured Timur Ibragimov, former world super-featherweight champion Kevin Kelley and heavyweight contender Shannon Briggs. [17] [18] Cole was 3–3–1 in his last seven fights which included unanimous decision (UD) wins over undefeated prospect Vinny Maddalone [19] and hard-hitting David Izon [20] and a draw against former world heavyweight title challenger Jeremy Williams, with all his losses coming by way of decision. Cole was coming off of a close UD loss to Hasim Rahman, and had only been stopped by Corrie Sanders and long-time cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez up to that date. [21] [22] Standing at a height of 193 cm (6 ft 4 in) and having a 203 cm (80 in) reach, Cole had a 5 cm (2 in) height and 10 cm (4 in) reach advantage over Ibragimov, while also weighing in at 233.75 lbs, 17.75 pounds heavier than Sultan. [22] [6] During pre-fight press-conference, boxing promoter Sal Musumeci compared Sultan Ibragimov to Rocky Marciano, noting that they have a similar fighting style and training process. He then claimed that both Sultan and Timur would fight for championship belts by the end of the year. [23] The fight only lasted three rounds. In the third round, Ibragimov dropped Cole with a left hook-uppercut combination. Cole got up, but Ibragimov immediately followed up with a barrage of unanswered shots, prompting the referee to stop the fight. [24]

Ibragimov had his next fight scheduled just one and a half month later against one of the more recognized American journeymen Zuri Lawrence. It was the fourth card in a row co-headlined by the Ibragimov boxers. Coming into the fight, Lawrence was 3–2–1 in his last six fights, which included an upset unanimous decision (UD) victory over undefeated Italian prospect Paolo Vidoz and a draw against Ray Austin. Lawrence had also never been knocked out in his career, with his previous stoppage losses being declared technical knockouts. [12] [25] [26] [27] Ibragimov dominated Lawrence throughout the entire fight. He knocked him down once in the fourth and twice more in the ninth. After the ninth round, Lawrence had a deep cut above his left eye and a broken nose. [28] After Ibragimov knocked Lawrence down for the fourth time in the eleventh, the referee stopped the contest, preventing battered Lawrence from absorbing more punishment. [28] [12] Ibragimov defended his WBO Asia Pacific title for the fourth time on 24 June 2005, defeating Andy Sample by first-round TKO in the main event of the card co-headlined by the Ibragimov boxers for the fifth time in a row. By July 2005, Sultan Ibragimov was ranked No. 8 heavyweight contender by the WBO. [29]

On 16 September 2005 Ibragimov faced his former sparring partner [10] and once-highly regarded prospect Friday Ahunanya at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Georgia. Friday was coming off of a draw against another prospect Dominick Guinn, [30] and was only stopped by Lance Whitaker. [10] In the build-up to the fight, Ahunanya stated that he was going to beat both Sultan and Timur, to which Sultan reacted by promising to "make him a hurricane" in the ring: "I know his weaknesses. I'll slowly break him down with left hooks and then finish him with the right hand to the head or body. Four months ago Friday was my sparring partner, back then I finished the sparring with a liver shot. In boxing, that's a knockout." The fight was described by some observers as "more competitive than expected", with Ibragimov going for an early knockout but seemingly struggling with the movement of Ahunanya who had his right elbow covering the liver throughout the entire fight. [10] [30] In the third round, Ibragimov stumbled and, after a push from Ahunanya, touched the canvas with a glove. The referee called it a knockdown. [30] In attempt to narrow the round's score from 8–10 to 9-10, Ibragimov staggered Friday with a series of shots to the head and body, almost finishing Ahunanya who was saved by the bell. Ibragimov changed the strategy in the later rounds, working mostly Ahunanya's body. In the ninth round, Ibragimov staggered Friday with a left hook, as a result Ahunanya lost his balance and both fighters accidentally clashed their heads as Ibragimov was coming forward. The headbutt opened a cut under Ahunanya's left eye, prompting the referee to prematurely stop the fight and go to the judges' scorecards. The judges scored the bout 88–84, 88–83 and 87–83, all in favor of Ibragimov, declaring him the winner by technical decision. [30] [31]

In the post-fight interview, Ibragimov was critical of his own performance: "I knew about Friday's signature right hand and that it helped him score most of his knockouts, but for whatever reason I was constantly going under his right hand in the early rounds. I hoped to catch him off guard where he would expect it the least. It didn't really work because he mostly threw short, quick punches. I accepted my corner's advice to change the strategy, and everything immediately went much easier. If the fight had not been stopped, I would've finished him because I saw that after the seventh round he was less and less competitive." [10] According to CompuBox stats, Ibragimov landed 123 punches (30.4% accuracy) to Ahunanya's 66 (28.1%). Ibragimov soundly outlanded Ahunanya in every round but seventh (both landed 11 punches), and he also connected on more power punches in each round. [32] By November 2005, Ibragimov was ranked No. 5 contender by the WBO and No. 11 contender by the WBA. [33] [34]

Ibragimov vs. Whitaker, Austin

Ibragimov had his next fight scheduled two months later against 6 ft 8 in Lance Whitaker (31–3–1, 26 KOs) at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida. Some observers viewed the fight as a big step up in competition for Ibragimov, describing Whitaker as the first true heavyweight contender Ibragimov had faced in his career up to that date. [35] [36] The build-up to the fight was surrounded with a lot of tension. [37] [38] A face-off at the pre-fight press-conference ended in a brawl when Whitaker pressed his first against Ibragimov's face and Ibragimov returned the favor, which prompted Whitaker to push Ibragimov away. Members of each boxer's team immediately came in to help their fighter. Both fighters were separated a couple of times, only to resume brawling. [39] Ibragimov's manager Sampson Lewkowicz appeared to have got the worst of it, as he was accidentally punched by both fighters at the same time and had to be taken to the hospital. [40] [41] [42] There were rumours that Whitaker injured his hand during the brawl which would put the fight in jeopardy, however Whitaker denied these rumours. [41] [37] For the fight, Ibragimov weighed in at 220.5 pounds (100.0 kg) and was outweighed by Whitaker by 50 pounds (23 kg). [6] [43] The fight was aired on ESPN2 and headlined the card that also featured another heavyweight contender Samuel Peter taking on Robert Hawkins. [43] [44] [39]

The fight started with Ibragimov aggressively coming at Whitaker, throwing combinations to the head and body. Ibragimov knocked Whitaker down in the first round with a counter left hook, and then sent him to the canvas again in the second, this time with a flurry of shots. Whitaker seemed unable to withstand Ibragimov's hand speed and punching power. Ibragimov continued fighting aggressively, hurting Whitaker several times in the opening rounds. In round four and five, Ibragimov appeared to have taken his foot off the gas, fighting mostly in a counterpunching manner. He picked up his pace in the sixth round, sending Whitaker to the canvas for the third time with another flurry of shots. In the seventh round, referee called for a time out so that the ringside doctor could check the cut above Whitaker's right eye. The judge allowed him to resume fighting, however Whitaker did not wish to continue, prompting the referee to stop the fight, declaring Ibragimov the winner by seventh-round technical knockout. [45] [46] [47]

"I promised my friends that I would finish the fight in the fourth or fifth round. That is why I started the fight so aggressively. I trained really hard for this fight. My friend Mike Tyson told me that if I am a real man, I simply have no right to lose", said Ibragimov in a post-fight interview. After the fight, Mike Tyson came out to the ring and praised Ibragimov for his performance, stating that he considers the Russian boxer to be one of the best heavyweights in the world. [47] At the conclusion of 2005, Ibragimov had a record of 19–0 with 16 KOs and was ranked No. 5 heavyweight contender by the WBO, No. 9 contender by the WBA and No. 12 contender by the IBF. [48] [49] [50]

In early 2006, Sultan Ibragimov's team began negotiations with former WBA world heavyweight champion John Ruiz for a potential IBF world heavyweight title eliminator fight, however the fight did not materialize after Ruiz opted to face Nikolai Valuev in a rematch for the WBA world title. [51] Ibragimow was also unable to reach agreements with Monte Barrett and Samuel Peter. Ultimately, IBF ordered its No. 2 ranked heavyweight contender Ray Austin to face Ibragimov in a 12-round IBF heavyweight title eliminator. [52] [51] Austin, who had fought at a professional level for eight years, was 36 years old coming into the bout, with ESPN commentators believing this was Austin's last chance to earn a shot at the heavyweight title. [53] Coming into the fight, Austin was on a 12-fight unbeaten streak which included draws against Lance Whitaker, Zuri Lawrence and Larry Donald and an upset TKO win over then-highly regarded prospest Jo-el Scott. [54] Ibragimov weighed in at 231.75 pounds (105.12 kg), his all time heaviest and 11.25 lbs heavier than in his previous bout, [52] while Austin weighed in at 245.5 pounds (111.4 kg) which was 9.5 lbs lighter than in his last fight. [55] Shortly before the fight, IBF had switched all three ringside judges. [51] The fight was aired live on ESPN2 as part of the Friday Night Fights series. [56]

The fight started with Ibragimov aggressively coming forward, while Austin tried to work behind the jab. In the first round, Ibragimov staggered Austin with a counter left hand, forcing Austin to clinch. Rounds two and three were met with a relative lack of action. In the fourth round, with thirty seconds left, Ibragimov went for the attack and missed with a left hand but immediately followed up with a swinging right hook, catching Austin off guard and knocking him down. Rounds five and six were relatively tentative, with Ibragimov occasionally hurting Austin with fast combinations, while Austin continued to work behind the jab. The judges gave those rounds to Austin. In the seventh round, Austin grabbed Ibragimov on the neck and made him lose balance which resulted in Ibragimov falling to the canvas. Despite the demands from Austin's corner, the referee did not rule it a knockdown. Ibragimov was more active in round nine but was sent to the canvas in the tenth with a left hook, however Ibragimov unhurt. In the eleventh and twelfth, Ibragimov hurt Austin a few times with a left hook but was unable to finish him, although he won those rounds on the judges' scorecards. Though Ibragimov appeared to have outboxed Austin for the majority of the fight, [53] [51] the judges ruled the bout a split draw, with the scorecards being 115–111 for Ibragimov, 114–112 for Austin and 113–113 even. [57] According to CompuBox, Ibragimov landed 107 shots out of 347 (30.8%) while Austin landed 112 punches out of 463 thrown (24.2%). Ibragimov outlanded Austin in five rounds out of twelve, with two rounds being even in terms of landed shots (including the fourth round in which Ibragimov knocked Austin down). He also landed more power punches in rounds 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 12, with 2nd round being even. Neither Ibragimov nor Austin were able to go past five landed jabs per round. [58]

In an interview after the fight, Ibragimov expressed his disagreement with the decision: "I thought I won that fight, I don't understand how could one judge have Austin winning. Don King did his job: he changed the judges before the fight. I think you all understand who is Don King. And Ray Austin is his fighter." Ibragimov's manager Boris Grinberg expressed his disgust with the final decision: "We were robbed, plain and simple! That explains why the entire judging team had been switched before the fight. Moreover, one of those [new] judges is from Cleveland, Ray Austin's hometown. [...] If you look at the stats, the fighters exchanged knockdowns, but through the course of twelve rounds Ibragimov staggered Austin at least six or seven times, while Austin couldn't do it once." He also accused Don King of attempting to rob Sultan because Ibragimov didn't want to sign a contract with him. [51] The debate over IBF's mantadory challenger spot ended when Ibragimov agreed to face Shannon Briggs for the WBO world heavyweight title. [59]

WBO world heavyweight champion

By October 2006, Ibragimov was ranked No. 1 heavyweight contender by the WBO. At the conclusion of 2006, he was ranked as the world's sixth best heavyweight by BoxRec. [60] He was scheduled to challenge Shannon Briggs for the WBO world heavyweight title on 10 March 2007 at Madison Square Garden in New York, however the fight was postponed after Briggs fell ill with pneumonia. Ibragimov claimed that one of his American trainers had warned him two months before the scheduled date that Briggs was going to pull out as he didn't want to fight against a southpaw. [61] After news of Briggs' withdrawal broke into public, DaVarryl Williamson expressed interest in taking the fight on short notice for the interim world title; however, because Williamson was unranked by the organization, the fight never materialized. [62] [61] Ibragimov instead opted to face Javier Mora (21–3–1, 17 KOs) in a stay-busy fight. Mora was mostly known for his seventh-round TKO win over heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson which was later changed into a No Contest. Ibragimov knocked out Mora 46 seconds into the first round. This win broke the record for the quickest knockout in a main event bout in Madison Square Garden, which was previously held by Lee Savold who defeated Buddy Walker in 1948. [63]

Prior to facing Briggs, Ibragimov changed his training camp, joining Jeff Mayweather. Under Mayweather, Ibragimov moved away from his aggressive volume-punching fighting style that he was accustomed to, instead trying to adapt a more defensively-oriented style known as Philly Shell. [63] Ibragimov eventually agreed to face Shannon Briggs for the WBO world heavyweight title in Atlantic City, New Jersey on 2 June 2007. [64] In the build up to the fight, there were rumours that Briggs was going to pull out of the fight again, which Ibragimov described as a tactic from Briggs' team to disrupt Ibragimov's training process: "I heard some rumours about Briggs pulling out of the fight again, but I was suspicious that the whole thing was rigged by Briggs' people to unsettle me, make me relax and disrupt my training process. These suspicions were basically confirmed when my former coach Panama Lewis, who was close with some people from Briggs' camp, told us that Briggs' people spread those rumours on purpose." [65] Ibragimov was 52 pounds lighter than his opponent coming into the bout. [66] With the exception of an early and late pressure by Briggs in round one & twelve, rounds two to eleven were mostly controlled by Ibragimov, out-boxing his larger opponent with fast combinations. Ibragimov won the fight by unanimous decision, with the judges scoring the bout 119–109, 115–113 and 117–111. [64]

Shortly after winning the title, Sultan Ibragimov signed the contract to face then-WBA world heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev in a unification showdown that would take place in Moscow on 13 October 2007. When talking about negotiations, president of Seminole Warriors Boxing promotion company Leon Margules described them as "the easiest negotiations of his career", praising both Ibragimov and Chagaev for being straightforward during the negotiation process. He also predicted the winner of this fight to eventually become the undisputed heavyweight champion. [67] [68] It was going to be the first heavyweight unification fight since 1999 and the third boxing event considered major for Moscow since WBC world heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev defended his title against Okello Peter and heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin faced fringe contender Larry Donald. [69] [70]

On 31 July 2007, it was officially announced that the unification showdown was cancelled due to Chagaev suffering from an aggravation of gastric problems. It was later reported that Chagaev had been diagnosed with hepatitis B. [71] Instead, former undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield agreed to step in as a last-minute replacement. [72] In the build up, Ibragimov praised Holyfield for his legendary career but also criticized him for his tactics, such as headbutting and using elbows during fights. [73] [74] [75] For the fight, Holyfield weighed in at 211.5 pounds, his lightest since 1996. The fight headlined the card that also featured another Russian boxer Dimitri Kirilov defending his IBF world super flyweight title against Jose Navarro. [76]

The fight began tentatively, with Ibragimov mostly staying at range and avoiding exchanges, keeping Holyfield at bay with fast combinations. By the third round, Ibragimov began to take control of the fight. In the fifth round, Ibragimov's in-ring dominance became more visible after hurting Holyfield with combinations to the head and body, and by the seventh the fight took on a one-sided manner as Holyfield appeared to be unable to keep up with his younger opponent. Holyfield had some success in the eighth, hurting Ibragimov with a counter body shot and a straight right hand. Ibragimov appeared to be unwilling to end the fight inside the distance as he didn't want to give Holyfield an opportunity to land a game-changing counter punch. The championship rounds saw Holyfield unsuccessfully going for the knockout, as Ibragimov was able to effectively neutralize Holyfield's offense and hurt Holyfield with precise body shots. Ultimately, the fight went full twelve rounds, with Ibragimov being declared the winner by unanimous decision, successfully defending his WBO world heavyweight title. The judges scored the bout 117–111 (twice) and 118–110. [77] [78]

"My strategy was to be careful. Holyfield did a good job moving away from punches, he used his head a lot, so in the course of the fight, I decided to change my approach", Ibragimov said in a post-fight interview, "This is a championship fight, and it doesn't really matter how the winner earned his victory". [79] Ibragimov also expressed his doubt whether he wanted to resume his boxing career. [80] The fight was reportedly watched by 50 million viewers. [81] At the conclusion of 2007, Ibragimov was ranked as the world's sixth best heavyweight by The Ring and fifth by BoxRec. [82] [60]

Unification bout against Wladimir Klitschko

By the end of October 2007, Ibragimov started negotiations with then-IBF world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko about the unification showdown in the near future. This would be the first heavyweight unification fight since 13 November 1999 when WBC champion Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield who was WBA and IBF champion at the time. [83] [84] On 20 November, Klitschko and Ibragimov officially signed the contract for their unification clash to take place on 23 February 2008 at Madison Square Garden. [85] Two days later in Moscow, a first pre-fight press-conference was held. [86] Klitschko began his preparations for the fight on 18 December. His training camp was located between Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Palm Beach, Florida. [87] Ibragimov began his preparations for the bout on 25 December. Among Ibragimov's sparring partners were Klitschko's former opponent Jameel McCline and Swedish heavyweight prospect Attila Levin. [88] [89]

In the pre-fight prediction, a vast majority of Ukrainian, Russian and American observers expected Ibragimov to lose by either stoppage or unanimous decision. Out of six journalists of the Ukrainian magazine Ring, five predicted Klitschko to stop Ibragimov, with only one expecting Klitschko to win by decision. Only two of 26 members of boxingscene.com expected Ibragimov to win by decision. Two of the 12 members of ringsidereport.com picked Ibragimov to win by stoppage, with one of them saying that Ibragimov was more resilient psychologically and could withstand Klitschko's power. [90] In the build-up to the fight, Klitschko's trainer Emmanuel Steward said that Ibragimov was going to be Wladimir's toughest opponent to date, praising Ibragimov for his hand speed and mobility, while Klitschko complimented Ibragimov on his accomplishments: "Sultan Ibragimov is a boxer that hasn't lost in any of his 23 fights, with the sole draw being against Ray Austin. His amateur career can be described as fantastic, and the fact that he's the heavyweight champion of the world speaks volumes about his professional career as well. I think he's a strong and dangerous opponent that should not be underestimated. His last two fights against Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield proved that." [91] Ibragimov's trainer Jeff Mayweather was confident that Ibragimov would be able to establish his rhythm and "press Klitschko to the corner". [92] The pre-fight build-up was marked with controversy after Ibragimov's manager Boris Grinberg insulted Klitschko during one of the interviews: "Sultan Ibragimov knocks out this Ukraine gay, motherf***er!". Grinberg later apologized to Klitschko. [93] The day before the bout, Ibragimov weighed in at 219 pounds (99 kg), his lightest since 2005, [6] while Klitschko's weight was 238 pounds (108 kg), the lightest since 1999. [94]

From the opening bell, both fighters fought tentatively, avoiding risks. Klitschko retreated onto the outside, fighting at a distance and remaining unattainable for Ibragimov who tried to establish his right jab but had his right hand constantly pushed down by Klitschko. By the end of the opening round, Klitschko became more active with his jab, while Ibragimov unsuccessfully tried to catch Wladimir with a series of right and left hooks. By the third round, Klitschko took control of the center of the ring, keeping Ibragimov at the end of his left jab and occasionally throwing right jabs as well. [95] In the fifth round, Ibragimov was caught with a straight right hand, but was not hurt. Most of Ibragimov's attempts to close the distance ended with him being tied up by Klitschko. In the second half of the fight, the situation did not change, with Ibragimov being kept at the distance with straight shots, while being only able to occasionally catch Klitschko with single shots to the body. Ibragimov's corner was almost silent from the sixth round onwards, unable to give their man any meaningful advice. [96] Klitschko's dominance became even more visible after he caught Ibragimov with a straight right in round nine, almost knocking him down. Ibragimov was caught again with a counter left hook in the at the end of the eleventh. The twelfth round saw Ibragimov unsuccessfully trying to catch Klitschko with overhand shots. Ultimately, the fight went the distance, with Ibragimov losing by unanimous decision. The judges scored the bout 119–110, 117–111 and 118–110. [97] [98] [99]

Years later when talking about the fight, Ibragimov admitted that in the middle rounds he had realized that he was going to lose: "We were very well prepared for the fight, our game plan was built around counterpunching, and I was patiently waiting for Klitschko to throw a straight right hand. But credit to him and his trainer Emmanuel Steward, for the first seven rounds Klitschko did not throw a single right hand. Basically, Klitschko's team prepared Wladimir to keep the fight away from tight quarters. And when the opponent doesn't want to fight aggressively and has a big advantage in height and reach, his job is a lot easier. In the middle of the fight I realized that I had already lost." [100]

Retirement

In February 2009 there were rumors about Ibragimov's retirement from boxing following his loss to Wladimir Klitschko, [101] which were later confirmed in July 2009. [102] [103] In 2016, Ibragimov stated that his decision to retire was caused by chronic problems with his left hand, including multiple fractures as well as surgery. [104] [7] [105]

Personal life

Ibragimov is of Avar Dagestani descent, and is Muslim by faith. [106]

Professional boxing record

Professional record summary
24 fights22 wins1 loss
By knockout170
By decision51
Draws1
No.ResultRecordOpponentTypeRound, timeDateLocationNotes
24Loss22–1–1 Flag of Ukraine.svg Wladimir Klitschko UD12 23 Feb 2008 Flag of the United States.svg Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, USLost WBO heavyweight title;
For IBF and IBO heavyweight titles
23Win22–0–1 Flag of the United States.svg Evander Holyfield UD12 13 Oct 2007 Flag of Russia.svg Megasport Arena, Moscow, RussiaRetained WBO heavyweight title
22Win21–0–1 Flag of the United States.svg Shannon Briggs UD122 Jun 2007 Flag of the United States.svg Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USWon WBO heavyweight title
21Win20–0–1 Flag of Mexico.svg Javier Mora TKO1 (10), 0:4610 Mar 2007 Flag of the United States.svg Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, US
20Draw19–0–1 Flag of the United States.svg Ray Austin SD1228 Jul 2006 Flag of the United States.svg Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida, US
19Win19–0 Flag of the United States.svg Lance Whitaker TKO7 (12), 2:0115 Dec 2005 Flag of the United States.svg Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida, USRetained WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title
18Win18–0 Flag of Nigeria.svg Friday Ahunanya TD9 (12)16 Sep 2005 Flag of the United States.svg The Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, Georgia, USRetained WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title;
Unanimous TD after Ahunanya was cut from an accidental head clash
17Win17–0 Flag of the United States.svg Andy SampleTKO1 (12), 2:4724 Jun 2005 Flag of the United States.svg The Orleans, Paradise, Nevada, USRetained WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title
16Win16–0 Flag of the United States.svg Zuri Lawrence TKO11 (12), 0:3222 Apr 2005 Flag of the United States.svg Tropicana Casino & Resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USRetained WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title
15Win15–0 Flag of the United States.svg Al Cole TKO3 (12), 1:463 Mar 2005 Flag of the United States.svg The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, USRetained WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title
14Win14–0 Flag of the United States.svg James WaltonTKO6 (12), 3:0011 Dec 2004 Flag of the United States.svg Atlantic Oceana Hall, New York City, New York, USRetained WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title
13Win13–0 Flag of the United States.svg Najee ShaheedKO3 (12), 2:4516 Oct 2004 Flag of the United States.svg Ovation Club, Boynton Beach, Florida, USWon vacant WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title
12Win12–0 Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg Onebo MaximeTKO5 (8), 2:1328 Aug 2004 Flag of the United States.svg Ovation Club, Boynton Beach, Florida, US
11Win11–0 Flag of Russia.svg Alexey OsokinUD810 Mar 2004 Flag of Russia.svg Crystal Casino, Moscow, Russia
10Win10–0 Flag of Belarus.svg Piotr SapunKO1 (8)29 Jan 2004 Flag of Russia.svg Centr na Tulskoy, Moscow, Russia
9Win9–0 Flag of Armenia.svg Sedrak AgagulyanTKO1 (8)12 Sep 2003 Flag of Ukraine.svg Sports Palace Yunost, Donetsk, Ukraine
8Win8–0 Flag of the United States.svg Marcus McGeeTKO8 (8)6 Jun 2003 Flag of Russia.svg KSK "Express", Rostov-on-Don, Russia
7Win7–0 Flag of Brazil.svg Carlos BarceleteKO3 (6)22 Apr 2003 Flag of Russia.svg Casino Kamilla, Moscow, Russia
6Win6–0 Flag of the United States.svg Chad ButlerUD626 Mar 2003 Flag of the United States.svg Convention Center, Coconut Grove, Florida, US
5Win5–0 Flag of the United States.svg Lincoln LukeRTD2 (4), 3:0020 Dec 2002 Flag of the United States.svg American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida, US
4Win4–0 Flag of the United States.svg Clarence GoinsTKO1 (4), 1:366 Dec 2002 Flag of the United States.svg Palladium Athletic Village, Davie, Florida, US
3Win3–0 Flag of the United States.svg Leroy HollisTKO1 (4), 2:3018 Oct 2002 Flag of the United States.svg Hard Rock Cafe, Orlando, Florida, US
2Win2–0 Flag of the United States.svg John PhillipsTKO1 (4), 1:267 Jun 2002 Flag of the United States.svg DeSoto Civic Center, Southaven, Mississippi, US
1Win1–0 Flag of the United States.svg Tracy WilliamsKO1 (4), 1:1925 May 2002 Flag of the United States.svg Tennis Center, Delray Beach, Florida, US

Television viewership

International

DateFightRegionViewership (est.)Source(s)
2 July 2011
Sultan Ibragimov vs. Evander Holyfield
50,000,000
[81]
Total viewershipWorldwide50,000,000

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    Sporting positions
    Regional boxing titles
    Vacant
    Title last held by
    Kali Meehan
    WBO Asia Pacific
    heavyweight champion

    16 October 2004 – July 2006
    Vacated
    Vacant
    Title next held by
    Ruslan Chagaev
    World boxing titles
    Preceded by
    Shannon Briggs
    WBO heavyweight champion
    2 June 2007 – 23 February 2008
    Succeeded by
    Wladimir Klitschko