As Arif “The Predator” Magomedov (18-1, 11 KOs) prepares to face his toughest opponent to date, Luis “Cuba” Arias (17-0, 8 KOs), on the Ward vs. Kovalev 2 HBO Pay Per View® telecast on June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, he will have a new trainer in his corner, Marco Contreras, the long-time assistant to legendary trainer, Robert Garcia.
After he first arrived in the United States in 2015 from Russia, Magomedov trained with UFC star Ronda Rousey’s notorious trainer Edmond Tarverdyan. During their time together, Arif secured a 4-0 record with two knockouts and earned the NABO Middleweight Title.
Tarverdyan’s training schedule with Rousey proved to be too difficult to maneuver around, so they parted ways amicably. Since then, Magomedov suffered his first career loss against to Andrew Hernandez in May of last year. He returned to Russia for the remainder of 2016 and stopped Chris Herrmann in the second round in his most recent fight.
Earlier this year, Arif returned to the US to prepare for his appearance on HBO Latino Boxing against Elias Espadas. While he was in Russia, Magomedov’s manager, 2016 BWAA Manager of the Year Egis Klimas, had arranged for Contreras to begin training Magomedov.
The two men met for the first time at the airport, as soon as Arif arrived in Los Angeles. When asked about his initial impressions of Arif, Marco replied, “Arif is a tough guy. He’s got experience. He came back after that one loss in Vegas determined to make a change for his career. He’s been really adjusting well. He’s a good fighter, pressure fighter and he can take a punch. It’s always a pressure fight. So he’s gonna come, come and come and be in front of your face all night. He’s not gonna be dancing around, he’s just gonna be there and make it a fight. I don’t see any weaknesses right now. Mentally he’s good. He wants to prove a point.”
Magomedov and Contreras train at Klimas’ new gym, the Boxing Laboratory, in Oxnard, California where several of Klimas’ fighters, including Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, train. The environment has been beneficial for Magomedov, who added, “I am very happy that I ended up in this gym. I really, really like to work with Marco. I am so happy that I ended up here in Oxnard.”
The fight with Espadas was scrapped at the last minute due to illness. Because he was already training with Marco for the Espadas fight, they felt he was in prime condition to accept the fight with Arias when it was offered to him shortly thereafter. Magomedov acknowledges that Arias will be a tough opponent for him, but is ready for the challenge. He said, “I watched all his fights. He’s a good boxer, he moves well, he’s fast but I made some notes that I need to make and know what I have to do.”
Furthermore, he feels he learned a lot from his loss against Hernandez and can apply those lessons to this fight. “I had enough time to think, to look back at everything, to see if I need to make adjustments and I did make certain adjustments. I learned something for myself, that I won’t let this happen again.”
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva visited Arif at the Boxing Laboratory last week and was happy to see a change in him: “Before the Hernandez fight, Arif just didn’t seem like himself. When I saw him at the gym last week, I saw the Arif who had been so impressive in the ring against Derrick Webster. Training in Oxnard and working with Marco has been great for him and I can’t wait to see the results in the ring at Mandalay Bay on June 17th.”
Ward vs. Kovalev 2: “The Rematch,” a 12-round mega-fight for the WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavyweight World Championships, is presented by Roc Nation Sports, Main Events, Andre Ward Promotions, Krusher Promotions and Corona Extra, sponsored by Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Jetlux, Life10 Water, Zappos and Powered by Monster. The championship event takes place Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Tickets for Ward-Kovalev 2: “The Rematch” are available on axs.com and at the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office.