Parlagi talks Yefimovich draw, possible Rigondeaux clash

Antonin Vavrda 14/11/2016

Union Boxing

He wanted to finally break the bad luck that has been accompanying him in his abroad fights for an international title of a prestigious alphabet organization. In the end, Martin Parlagi (20-2-1, 11 KOs) was able to put on a performance that brought him the desired result – and it didn’t matter that his last fight in Kiev against the home hero and WBA international featherweight titleholder Oleg Yefimovich (28-2-1, 15 KOs) ended “only” in a draw (116-112, 113-115 and 114-114).

“I think of it as a victory,” says the current best Slovak prizefighter in an extensive interview to Profiboxing.cz.

He returned back to Prague, his current residence, on Monday morning. “After the fight, we got to our hotel room at about one o’clock in the morning and then at five had a wakeup call and headed to airport. But I’m already fine and well rested,“ said Parlagi on Tuesday evening, not forgetting to praise the organization of the whole card.

But his mind was already set on the future. “I don’t consider myself an elite fighter, rather a mediocre one. But I want to put on a show for the fans, give them some good fights. However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to lose them, so if there’s another offer for me to fight Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0-0, 11 KOs) and I have the time to do a proper preparation, I’m gladly taking it,” says the fighter whose future plans also feature a trip to US with his manager Stanislav Skoda.

How did you see your fight with Yefimovich?

I guess we didn’t lose anything in this one. On the contrary – we gained a lot. We got more points in the BoxRec.com rankings and I myself got a chance to box full twelve rounds. I really enjoyed the fight, but at the same time was able to think during it, without doing any unnecessary things in the ring.

I guess we will both agree on that. But still, didn’t you feel like your punch volume was a bit too low? Or was this because you didn’t exactly know how you were going to handle a twelve round fight?

Exactly. I never boxed for full twelve rounds, so I didn’t want to run out of gas and gave him a chance to knock me out halfway into the fight. I wanted to go the entire distance. I knew Yefimovich wasn’t a world class boxer, but he had great experience and overall wasn’t a bad fighter at all, so I didn’t want anything to go wrong in this fight. My objective was to try a twelve round fight and evaluate all the good and bad things I did in it and react to certain situations.

Nevertheless, don’t you now regret that you didn’t put a bit more pressure on him in that second round and also in one of the closing rounds, where it looked like you had really shaken with him? One could see it clearly when watching the fight on TV…

I know. Maybe it’s a pity, but I didn’t want to take any chances. Yefimovich can hit you even when he’s taking your own punches, and since we boxed with rather small and stiff gloves, I didn’t want to run to some counter of his own. I guess that, of all my title fights, this was the one where I showed my best performance. I tried to box for full twelve rounds and at the same time tried some new things. But it’s true that my punch volume could’ve been higher.

To be honest, I wouldn’t give myself even a draw in this one. I was really surprised when the ring announcer said 116-112 in my favor. I was staring in amazement. I thought the judges were going to give me a clear beating on the scorecards, since I was fighting abroad and my opponent was the busier fighter in the ring. I wouldn’t give myself a W in this one, so when the fight was over and I returned to my corner, I even said to my trainer Martin Mraz and my manager Stan Skoda that I had probably lost it.

Of course I wanted to win, but at the same time didn’t want to overcook it as my goal was to last the full twelve rounds. When the fight was over, I didn’t feel overly tired. Maybe I should’ve applied a bit more pressure on him and he would’ve cracked physically, but maybe he wouldn’t. After one of the rounds, he indeed seemed really tired, but in the next one he was again fresh as a daisy.

I was actually going to ask you the same question. When sitting in his corner after the fourth round, Yefimovich seemed like he had enough, as he was breathing heavily. But a couple of rounds later, it looked as if he suddenly got a second wind…

You’re perfectly right. I myself was very well aware of this, but I was still doubting if it was the right sign for me to up the pace or not. If I was dead sure he would be having troubles with his stamina, I would’ve gone for it, but I wasn’t sure. I tried to knock him out in the twelfth, but unfortunately, I wasn’t quite able to do that.

So can we assume that all the things you’ve just mentioned will actually help you in your future title fights?

Definitely. This fight has given me a lot! Draw? Great! Ranking points? Ditto! I didn’t lose anything, but at the same time gained experience and also assured myself of my ability to know exactly what I’m supposed to do in certain stages of the fight.

What about putting all this experience into practice in a fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux? From what I heard from Standa Skoda and Lukas Konecny, you were already offered this fight, but unfortunately weren’t able to proceed with it due to your penciled bout with Yefimovich…

If the timing of the offer was right and I had the time for a proper preparation, I would definitely take it! Unfortunately, we’re not in a position where we can just pick our opponents, so if there’s a good fight with a good opponent on the horizon, it’s always a no-brainer for us. I don’t enter the ring thinking I’m going to destroy everyone, or that I’m the best fighter on this planet. No, I just want to give the fans some good fights and have some fun in the ring – just as it was the case now in Ukraine with Yefimovich.

What am I to lose in a fight against Rigondeaux? Will he knock me out? I don’t mind. I’m not afraid of getting beaten. You can get a plain beating right on the street, so if it’s Rigondeaux, I’ll just go in there and then it’ll be only up to him to knock me out or not. I’d just give myself a try. I’d be a great and prestigious fight that I would be entering neither as a journeyman that’s supposed to get beaten nor as a world champion. And I can assure you that I’ll do everything in my power to not get embarrassed in the ring.

Do you think that receiving similar offers – after all, you were previously offered to fight Diego Magdaleno as well – and your recent performance against Yefimovich will give you even more motivation to train? Is this for you a sign that you’re on the right path?

No doubt about that. But then again, I already had the same mindset before the Yefimovich fight. I went to the ring to win, not thinking about a possible loss. And I knew it was going to be tough for me to box abroad. It was my first bout scheduled for twelve rounds, so I wanted to box cleverly. I’ll maybe repeat myself here, but this fight has given me a lot!

How important for you is your work with your psychologist Jiri Slegr?

At first, I was a bit skeptical as I felt I wasn’t gaining anything from it. But now I have to admit that he’s doing certain things really well, like analyzing all of my fights and opponents, etc. But there are certain areas in my boxing career I don’t want anyone to offer me an advice for. It took us two a while to understand this, to reach a certain mutual respect. Currently, we’re in contact mainly thanks to my trainer Martin Mraz, and I think that our cooperation is going really well and that it has definitely helped me to mentally handle the Yefimovich bout. He’s taught me many things, for example not to sit still in my corner in between the rounds, but instead to sit only for a while, then squat, stand up and put my hands on the ropes and focus on the upcoming round.

Apart from this change, I also noticed that you were quite enjoying the music in between the rounds, so that if you weren’t exactly a boxer, you would certainly make a good job of dancing, wouldn’t you?

(smiles) That’s correct. I may try the Let’s Dance show, right? But seriously, I was really enjoying the fight, how my jab was flying and shaking his head from side to side. I felt great in the ring.

On a serious note, was it a big obstacle for you to box with a broken nose from the second round on?

Actually, it wasn’t broken, but only bleeding. I tend to bleed a lot from the nose when I have cold. It just happens by itself. Normally, it’s a nuisance for me, but luckily, it didn’t bother me in the fight. It wasn’t a profound bleeding, as the blood stayed mainly on the nose hair, so it wasn’t a big distraction for me. Martin eventually managed to stop the bleeding with the tampons.

By the way, how did you like the whole card? Watching it on TV, it seemed like the organizers did a very good job, staging the event at a very nice arena…

You’re right. The organization of the whole show was excellent. The arena maybe wasn’t the biggest, and it certainly wasn’t sold out, but overall it was a nice surrounding worth of such event. I definitely enjoyed the entire card.

Last but not least, I would like to ask you about your current trainer Martin Mraz. Are you satisfied with his services? After all, last year, it took you only six months to switch from Filip Minovsky to Kuprian Huley, only to finally choose Martin…

I felt like my partnership with Filip was beginning to be a bit dull after all these years, whereas with Kuprian, it was maybe great, but in order to have a long-term coaching with him, I would be forced to leave the Czech Republic and travel to him (or vice-versa), and that would be financially very demanding. So in the end, I began to train with Martin. We always reveal everything that is supposed to be revealed between us during practice, talking to each other a lot, consulting my likes and dislikes in training, so I think it’s a great partnership.

Has he brought anything new to your training regimen?

We’re mainly doing the same mitt drills over and over again, so I can learn and memorize all these combinations. We usually do ten or twelve rounds on the mitts, then analyze it, and that’s it. We only consult the boxing part, whereas the conditioning part I consult with my strength and conditioning trainer. I guess we’re all satisfied with how the things currently work.