Recently we were in touch with our good friend Mikko Marttinen, who is the international manager for Indonesian teenager Iwan Zoda (8-1, 7). Through Mikko we managed to ask Iwan some questions ahead of his April 2nd fight against unbeaten Hungarian Szilveszter Kanalas (8-0, 6).
Asian Boxing-Hi Iwan, can we ask what first got you into boxing? Was it your trainer or were you a fan of the sport before hand?
Iwan Zoda-"I was nine years old and I joined my friends at Damianus Yordan's gym. First it was just for fun but little by little I started to enjoy it more and more. My parents and grandmother (who he was living with at the time) were against me boxing. They said nothing good would come out of it. I had my first amateur fight at 13 and won. I didn't know anything about boxing before going to the gym."
AB-Could we if he has any amateur experience or whether it has been a "learn on the job" type of thing so far?
Mikko Marttinen-He had about 40 amateur fights and lost 4 times. When he was 17 he knocked out Julio Bria in a national tournament. Bria has twice represented Indonesia in world amateur championships. When Iwan was not selected for the national team despite knocking out the number one amateur in the country he decided to turn pro.
AB-Could you tell us something about Iwan's team?
MM-His trainer is Damianus Yordan, the older brother and former trainer of Daud Yordan. My role is advisor and international agent. The Indonesian airforce supports him but he's not employed by them and he is not under contract with any promoter.
AB-What do you feel are your best assets are in the ring, and what flaws would you like to build on?
IZ-"I can fight as both orthodox and southpaw. I still need to develop my physique."
AB-As we all know your big break out win to many was the rematch over Petchchorhae. Could we ask how it felt losing to Petchchorhae the first time around? What you learned from the loss? And how you felt when you avenged the loss?
IZ-"I was still inexperienced in the first match, having only one six-round points victory in the pros before the fight. I learned that I needed more weight in my punches. For the second fight my trainer convinced me I can beat him. After beating him I felt extremly happy. It was the proudest moment of my life."
AB-What his current aim is in boxing, is it money, glory, legacy, a combination of those things or something totally different?
IZ-"My goal is to achieve something where people can not look down on me anymore."
AB-Do you feel a lot of pressure on yourself now before fights given the fact that some view you as the next star of Indonesian boxing?
IZ-"I hope they are right. I don't feel any pressure at all, in the contrary, it gives me strength and confidence."
AB-With boxing in Indonesia being quite small at the moment, does you feel you have any domestic rivals?
IZ-"So far nobody has been able to match me."
AB-What does he know about his upcoming opponent?
MM-He has seen highlights of Kanalas's last fight. He believes it will be a challenge but one that he can manage.
AB-Any predictions for your up coming bout?
IZ-"I will win inside ten rounds."
AB-Are you shocked that international fans are paying attention to you?
IZ-"I was not aware that people know me outside of Indonesia. I only concentrate on my training."
AB-Any messages for fans who are following you?
IZ-"Thank you for following me. I would love to get to know my fans from abroad."
We'd like to say a huge thanks to both Iwan and Mikko and we, of course, with Iwan the best of luck in his upcoming bout. For those who haven't seen Iwan before we have featured the video of his brilliant win over Petchchorhae Kokietgym from last year, a win that helped Iwan earn some well deserved international attention.
For those wanting to follow Iwan's career, we suggest following his team on twitter @iwanzoda.
Earlier this month we sent a number of interview requests to various Asian promoters. One of those promoters to return our request was Dr. Siraphop OneSongchai Ratanasuban, the head of OneSongchai. Dr Sirahop kindly passed on some questions we had for current WBO Bantamweight world champion Pungluang Sor Singyu, who is currently enjoying his second reign as the WBO Bantamweight champion, and returned the answers to us earlier this week.
The exciting and fun to watch 27 year old has been a professional since 2004 and has run up an excellent record of 51-3 (35) with wins over Eden Sonsona, Monico Laurente, Rey Megrino, AJ Banal and most recently Ryo Akaho. The aggressively minded Thai is now set to return to the ring on February 12th as he defends the title against Filipino challenger Jetro Pabustan
AB-Could you perhaps tell our readers something about yourself, for example what got you in to boxing? Did you have much of an amateur or Muay Thai background?
PSS- I got in Professional Muaythai with more than 100 fights first, then I go into boxing as a replaced boxer, then I was good. So I turn to Prof. boxing right away.
AB-And staying on that theme, how would you describe yourself as a boxer?
PSS- I am training hard. It is ืnot god gifted. I am diligent.
AB-Who currently makes up your team? And have you worked with those particular people since the start of your career?
PSS- I have promoter madame Pairyakorn Ratanasuban, manager Sorjor Sanya Sor Singyu, trainer Aek.
AB-As we are just a few weeks away from your first defense, of your second reign, as WBO Bantamweight championship can you tell us how your
preparations have gone so far? Have you been sparring with anyone different to usual?
PSS- I got Philippine trainer. My promoter invests me with good basic trainer.
AB-What do you know about Jetro Pabustan, your upcoming opponent?
PSS- I am not worry. If I fight in Thailand. I know Jetro is from Philippine with strong Manny Pacquio backed him up. The best boxer in the world.
AB-We know all 3 of your losses have come when you have fought outside of Thailand, do you feel there was a reason for those losses? If there an advantage of fighting at home in Thailand?
PSS- Home town always rule 100%. I won for sure in Thailand because I train well with good foods, good used to weather.
AB-Given that you have fought a lot of notable names, could you tell us who the best opponent that you've faced has been?
PSS- I remember my best opponent are boxers who beated me. They teach me not to be careless and train harder
AB-Thanks for answering our questions
PSS-Thank you very much
Recently we reached out to Korean promoter Andy Kim, the head of AK Promotions, who helped us ask some questions to a couple of his most promising fighters. One of those fighters was former Pakistani amateur stand out Muhammad Waseem (2-0, 2), who made his debut last year by winning a Korean national title.
Prior to turning professional Waseem ran up a very solid amateur record, reportedly 89-16 (2) whilst winning various international level medals and appears to be on the fast track to success in the professional ranks.
We'd like to thank Andy for passing these questions to Waseem on our behalf and returning the answers as well as Waseem for answering the questions
AB-We all know boxing isn't particularly big in Pakistan, so firstly what made you decide to take part in the sport?
MW-Yeah its right that boxing is not given importance in Pakistan, however boxing is a very challenging sport, its tough, needs alot of hard work which matches with my personality and thinking which made to go for boxing.
AB-As an amateur you were a fantastic fighter winning numerous medals, however what made you decide to turn professional?
MW-I wanted to win wbo,wbc and other highly respected titles which was not possible to win in amateur career so i turned pro to fulfill my these dreams.
AB-Staying with your days as an amateur, what was your proudest moment? What was your lowest point as an amateur? And who was the best fighter you faced in the amateur ranks?
MW-Actually there were many moments in my amateur career which were special for me but there were two special occasions which made me proud one was winning silver in Glasgow commonwealth games, second was winning gold in combat games china 2010.however I got disappointed when I lost to Monogalia's boxer Nayambar [Tugstsogt Nyambayar] in an Olympic qualifying round in a close fight in 2011, he got silver in 2012 Olympics. He was also the toughest fighter I have faced.
AB-Although your professional career only started last year you already have title level experience, what was the thinking behind fighting in a 10 rounder on your debut? Was there any worry about the distance of the bout?
MW-I decided to go for the title fight in my debut because my coach Mr. Hong put alot of effort and trained me hard, he knew already that I would easily win over my opponent so I went for 10 rounds, I was not nervous at all about such a big challenge.
AB-Could you describe your style to fans who haven't seen you fighting yet?
MW-For my fans,I had a different approach fighting in amateur but after turning pro I have changed my style,some times I go for in fight style and some times fight from distance with my opponent
AB-Finally what are the hopes for your professional career? Both for this year, and for the longer term?
MW-I hope I will go for title fights such as wbc wbo in the end of this year and coming years to become world champion.
For those who haven't seen Waseem in action we've included footage of his debut below.
Over the week or so we sent out a number of e-mail to promoters hoping to get interviews with either themselves or their fighters. One of the first to respond to our request was Korean promoter Andy Kim, the head of AK Promotions. Kim came to some prominence last year for hosting two notable shows, "Homecoming", which was streamed in full on Youtube, and "Show me the KO's", which featured the professional debut of Muhammad Waseem and the Korean debut of former world champion Randall Bailey.
Whilst getting some news about both of those fighters we also managed to get Andy's view on the broken nature of Korean boxing, a real issue in helping develop the countries boxing scene.
Unfortunately as it's the first interview we've done for the site we realise the questions aren't the best, but hopefully the interviews we do in the future will improve, and hopefully Andy will be willing to do another down the line.
AB-What drew you to becoming a boxing promoter?
AK-Hobby became a job. I was in the music business before this, importing musical instruments. Then I started importing boxing equipments, then I decided to try hosting an event, then I liked it so I kept doing it.
AB-You've had a very international list of fighters working with you, including Randall Bailey, Muhammad Waseem and Mussa Kim, and this has drawn respect from fight fans. Was it an intentional idea to try and snap up international fighters or did they “fall in to your lap” so to speak?
AK-Yes it was my idea to sign foreign fighters because they are good and I figured it would make some noise since it's something that hasn't been done much in Korea.
Waseem sort of "fell in to my lap" because he was in Korea for amateur team training and expressed his intentions to turn pro, so I got the call and went to see him spar.
AB-Currently Randall Bailey isn't listed on the AK Website, was the deal for his fight with Shunsaku Fujinaka just a 1-off fight?
AK-After Fujinaka fight, he got ranked #10 by the WBO, but it was too hard getting him a big fight when no one wants to fight your fighter.
Because of Randall's age, I didn't look at it as a long time commitment, so I let him go and hope he gets that big money fight before retirement.
AB-Could you give us any details on your next show, or is it still just in the early planning stages?
AK-I'm not sure yet since I'm kind of busy, I opened up 2 gyms (one in Seoul, another one in Tokyo) and importing some new sports brands, but Waseem is set to fight on the 4/16 in London, England against an Indian fighter. He will be in Vegas this weekend to train with Jeff Mayweather at the Mayweather Boxing club for 1 month. Then he will be back in Japan to resume training with Dong Shik Hong. Mussa will likely have his debut on the end of February or beginning or March.
AB-We know boxing in Korea is relatively fractured at the moment with a number of supposed bodies governing the sport. Has this been a major issue in trying to arrange bouts and shows?
AK-It is a major issue that has been going on long before I entered the business. I don't even know the full story but I find they are more personal and emotional, and not up to everyone's benefit. Only way to end it is if everyone outside Korea comes to an agreement to approve only 1 commission since korea is too small to have more than one. Otherwise they will be fighting each other forever over who's original and who's legitimate and things will only get worse.
Not sure this needs to be explained! But here are out interviews with fighters!