Mehrdud Takaloobigashi, more commonly known as "Takaloo", gets a long awaited shot at nemesis Wayne Alexander in a WBU Light Middleweight championship bout that headlines Sports Network's big Friday night card from London, England's historic York Hall. Also on the bill are super featherweight phenom Kevin Mitchell, comebacking heavyweight Michael Sprott, middleweights Martin Conception and Gohkan Kazaz, welter Tony Doherty and this years ABA bantamweight champion, Matthew Marsh, making his professional debut. Sky TV presents the action live on the air in Britain, starting at 10PM on Sky Sports 1. Boxingtalk.com was fortunate enough to catch up with Takaloo as he was winding down his preparation for this career defining bout and you won't want to miss this closer look at one of the world's most exciting fighters.
Two years ago the light middleweight division was without question the hottest in Britain and specifically, there were five fighters that had captured the public's imagination. Wayne Alexander, Gary Lockett, Steve Roberts, Takaloo and Richard Williams were the subject of much speculation as many debated the merits of each against the others in hypothetical matchups. Fast forward to September 2004 and a vastly different picture emerges. To a degree the inevitable promotional differences (Takaloo, Alexander and Lockett are with Sports Network while Williams and Roberts are with Matchroom) kept the fighters apart but also bouts outside the five fighter circle changed the British light middle landscape.
Richard Williams defended his IBO belt twice against hard hitting Paul Samuels before losing it to Argentinean Sergio Gabriel Martinez in 2003. This year Williams picked up the Commonwealth belt before being stopped by Martinez in an April rematch. Steve Roberts' two year reign as WBF titlist was put to an end by Russian champ Andrei Pestriaev in July 2002 and the Londoner has remained inactive since being stopped by Darren Rhodes last December. Gary Lockett had streaked to sixteen consecutive victories, thirteen early, by the time he met Yuri Tsarenko in defense of his WBO Intercontinental title. Tsarenko gave "The Rocket Man" his first loss however, in brutal fashion. Three fights later Lockett met the Belarus fighter again and boxed his way to victory. Since that time Lockett has moved up a weight class and racked up four more wins, most recently against Michael Monaghan in a rematch last weekend.
Currently, British champ Jamie Moore, WBU International titlist Thomas McDonagh and former Commonwealth king Michael Jones have pushed into the top level of the UK light middle class with former welters Neil Sinclair, David Walker and middleweight Anthony Farnell possibly taking up the sword as well at 154lbs. Which brings us to Wayne Alexander. The former British champ and WBO world title challenger (LTKO5 to Harry Simon on only twenty four hours notice in 2001), Alexander gained the European belt in 2002 only to be stopped two fights later by journeyman Delroy Mellis. With all ten of his victories coming by the short route, Mellis certainly has power but also went into the Alexander fight with nineteen losses, including his previous six matches.Since Alexander's shocking loss to Mellis, the Croydon native got back up on the horse three months later and then got up off the canvas to stop veteran Howard Clarke in two this past February.
Of all the class of 2002 light middles, Takaloo was the only one to
compete at true world class level since that time. The Margate man's shot at the big time came in August of 2002 when he took on WBO titlist Daniel Santos. Takaloo suffered a severe laceration shortly after the fight began and went into a desperate drive to finish off Santos before the fight was stopped. The bout was allowed to run the twelve round course however and Takaloo's bombs away strategy did have the Puerto Rican champion on the brink at times but Santos was awarded a points decision. Since then Takaloo picked up three wins before running into the British version of kryptonite, Eugenio Montero, losing a points decision to the Portuguese fighter. Claiming to be suffering from the after effects of a bad virus, the twenty eight year old had little stamina against Montero but did still manage to go the eight round distance.
Tonight, the only clash to date between the fabulous five of 2002 will take place in London's historic York Hall and the British public are clamoring for it. One of the things pumping up interest for the fans is the fact that Takaloo, 22-4 (17) and Alexander, 20-2 (16), are not particularly fond of each other. Press conferences between the two have featured some of the more spirited trash talking seen in British boxing for quite some time. Today's weigh in featured not only both fighters making 154lbs on the first try but also a heated argument over the color of boxing trunks each would wear.
Takaloo explains the germination of the dislike between himself and Alexander by saying, "When I first turned pro, Wayne had already had eleven fights, all wins, and everyone was talking about him. I went in there (to spar with Alexander) and just whupped his ass. Because of that he always tries to put one up on me. We are friendly in person but we are in the same weight division and always knew that we'd meet each other (in the ring). At the end of the day, it's business and I've got nothing but respect for Wayne but it is a job and I'm going to take care of him. He is taking it quite personal, but fair enough, if that's what he needs to get himself up for this fight."
"He's just another opponent to me but he started slagging me off in the papers so I've done the same to him. We've had the best fight in the press (laughs) and in the verbal fight I think I'm winning on points at the moment. I've just got to get in there and win by knockout on the tenth of September and I'm excited about that."
After studying his hard hitting opponent, the former two time WBU titlist feels that he's discovered a sure path to victory. Working with well respect trainer Jim McDonald, Takaloo maintains he's perfectly conditioned after four years on constant hard work. "People always say that fighters who can punch really don't take good shots themselves," he said. "It's essentially true because they don't prepare in training and they get away with it. When he was learning the trade, Wayne was knocking everyone out so he didn't need to learn and work on defense because people would give him the time and respect so he could just stand off and catch opponents with a big shot. So at this level, against me, I feel that Wayne is like a blind guy with a gun. If he can't see what's there, he can't win. Wayne definitely has a bit of a chin problem because in his last three fights, which I've been watching, he's shown me a few weaknesses. One is to the body and the other is to the chin."
"The body shot is the main thing for me because Wayne has shown in his last few fights that he can be hurt with body shots, so it's something I've worked on. I've trained for a tough fight because Wayne has respected me by traveling to Belfast and training properly for this fight. We're going to see some fireworks on Friday night. People might be shocked when I say this but it might another performance like I had against Anthony Farnell (first round TKO, July 2001) because these are the fights that I get up for. At the moment I'm sitting here, eleven stone (154lbs) bang on the button, and I'm eating properly, drinking properly and at the weight perfectly. I sparred one hundred and eighty six rounds for this fight and I'm really up for it. Deep down Wayne knows he's up against it."
After witnessing stablemate Danny Williams meteoric rise following the British heavyweights four round destruction of Mike Tyson, Takaloo is looking to tread a similar path and feels that this fight will be the perfect springboard get him into position for world class opportunities. "I really want to fight a big name American," he said. "When I went to New York with Danny Williams I started sparring and the American there were saying 'Hey, this kid is good, how come we haven't seen him before?' What I want to do is establish myself there and get a big fight with someone like Fernando Vargas because at this point I need the big fights to get me up for it and the better the opponent, the better I perform. Just like Danny Williams, who went in as the underdog against Tyson and pulled it off. There's no reason why I can't do the same thing."
"I'm dedicated and I've been written off before, yet I've pulled it
out of the bag and there's no reason I can't do it again. I just feel one hundred percent. I've had to learn the hard way because I've done everything myself. Sometimes I've made the wrong decisions but I've paid for that and I've earned from it. Hopefully after this one, I'll get a big fight and put the money in the bank. I've just go to do what I've got to do in this fight, which means so much to me. All I have to do is get this guy out of the way and my future is bright. I can't wait."Boxingtalk.com would like to thank Takaloo and Richard Maynard for making this article possible.
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