UMAR SADIQ had been preparing for a shot at British and Commonwealth super-middleweight titlist Lerrone Richards when he received a call from his promotional team – Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions. The Ilford-based boxer was informed that, due to a preference for the Richards bout to be held in front of a live crowd, the contest won’t take place while boxing is still having to be staged behind closed doors. But this wasn’t the only topic of conversation.
“After telling me about the Richards fight, the next thing they said was that there’s an opportunity to face Fedor Chudinov for the WBA Gold title in a couple of weeks [this Friday, September 11] – in Russia. The offer literally came out of the blue,” Sadiq told Boxing News.
It didn’t take long for the Nigeria native to come to a decision.
“I tend to just look at things for what they are, without the bells and whistles,” explained Sadiq. “This is simply a fight between Fedor Chudinov and I. So I asked myself and I asked my team, ‘Do I beat him?’ The answer is yes, I do beat him. Then we looked at the reward – a place on the world stage – and that’s all I needed to know. Based off those two things, it was a no-brainer. I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’ I stay ready all year round, so naturally I just took the fight.”
Make no mistake, the match represents a huge test for Sadiq. Whereas he has had just 11 professional outings (10 wins, one loss) and has not yet fought for a title of any kind, Chudinov has had 24 pro bouts (22 victories, two defeats) and is a former WBA champion. Sadiq accepts that “this is a massive step up in levels” for him, yet he believes that he has “got the beating” of his fellow 32-year-old.
“Let’s face it, he’s been a pro for over 11 years and I’ve been a pro for just under three years, so I have to respect that,” Sadiq acknowledged. “He’s experienced, very well schooled, accurate and efficient. He’s tougher than pretty much any fighter you’ll ever meet. He’ll also be boxing in his home country, so he’ll want to put on a show. In short, I rate him but I just know that I’m better than him, that’s all.”
With Chudinov’s ranking-boosting WBA Gold belt up for grabs, Sadiq is well aware what a win over the Russian would do for his career. Nevertheless, he is determined not to get sidetracked from the task at hand.
“The only thing I’m concerning myself with right now is getting in the ring and winning the fight,” stated Sadiq. “If I beat him and officially become a world-level fighter, then I can start thinking about all the things that go along with that.”
Although he is yet to compete outside of England as a pro, Sadiq does have experience of fighting abroad in the amateurs, including at Olympic (2016) qualification tournaments in Cameroon and Azerbaijan. The 6ft 3in super-middle is convinced that this grounding will prove vital.
“Through past experience, I know 100 per cent that I can go anywhere in the world and box some of the best fighters in the world,” said Sadiq. “I know that I have it in me to solely focus on my opponent on the other side of the ring. That’s the attitude I’m going to have against Chudinov. It makes no difference whether the ring is in England or Russia.”
HAVING previously enjoyed success as a mixed martial artist, kickboxer and amateur boxer, Sergey Kharitonov is scheduled to make his pro boxing debut at the age of 40. Opposing the Russian heavyweight – over six rounds on the Chudinov-Sadiq undercard at Khimki Basketball Center – will be Brixton’s 47-year-old Danny Williams. The Mike Tyson conqueror is well over a decade past his prime and, for the good of his health, should no longer be fighting.