By WBC Boxing
Hard hitting Serhii Bohachuk (18-0, 18 KO) a 25-year-old Ucranian super welter living in California is one of the best and most exciting prospects in the World.
He has never had to linger for the judges’ scorecards. Being close to step into stardom, he talks with ESPABOX to intoduce himself to the Spanish fans and tell us his story.
Hi. Serhii. Thanks for talking to ESPABOX and the Spanish fans. First of all, your name is already familiar for many people, but could you introduce yourself for those who still haven’t heard of Serhii Bohachuk?
Hello, yes sure! I’m a boxer from Ukraine. I have an extensive amateur career. I have more than 150 amateur fights in my career. This is my fourth year in professional boxing. I started training with Abel Sánchez in Big Bear, California. Under his supervision I had 17 fights; 17 amazing fights which were finished in KOs. So I’m very satisfied with Abel Sanchez, because he gave me a lot in terms of professional boxing skills. He taught me a lot about Mexican school of boxing. And most importantly he values discipline above everything else. In my personal opinion discipline for him goes first above all. And this is very important. In Ukraine we have a saying: Discipline crushes class. Which means a disciplined boxer will win over a higher skilled boxer but who is less disciplined. And it’s the same thing in real life to be honest. So the discipline part is something that I value a lot with him.
Abel Sánchez also has an extensive experience with professional boxers. I’m not going to list them because everyone already knows who they are. He worked a lot with very good and famous boxers. So his career speaks for himself. I am very thankful to him because he gave me a lot. But it so happened that I had to depart from him. It doesn’t have anything to do with me personally. There were some issues on the management side. So as a result I had to leave him.
Right now I’m training with Manny Robles, here in Los Angeles. I have a very good and strong team. I really like them. I like Manny Robles and his assistant Edgar; and also Matias who is my strength and conditioning coach. I like how he is developing me physically. His system is based on maintaining power without getting tired. I really like that approach. Right now I train and live in Los Angeles. Overall I’m enjoying everything. I have a really good team. I got everything I need.
You have summarized your recent career. Can you tell us about your beginnings? Why did you choose boxing over other sports? On my interviews, I like to talk about the human stories behind boxing.
I didn’t have a particular goal to become a boxer. I just wanted to study martial arts. I wanted to make sure that I know how to defend myself. I grew up in a very rough neighbourhood. There were fights all the time and there was a lot of bullying of younger kids by older kids. So the main reason why I started boxing is just so that I can defend myself.
I started training, and then I had a competition, and then another competition and then another. And then I realized that I can actually make money in boxing. And as I grew older I started doing that. I got really into it, and I always had the will and the need for victory. As someone who grew up in a very poor neighbourhood and is not a wealthy family I wanted to become someone in this world; I wanted to achieve something, so that I can take care of my family and just to make their life easier.
How was your amateur career? You told us you had more than 150 fights. What was your best moment?
I think that the best moment in my amateur career was when I was participating in a WSB competition. I had to box with an Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias. No one at all was expecting me to win. It was our team against the Cuban team. The contest was held in Kharkiv, Ukraine. No one was thinking that I would win; and no one was really betting on my victory. People were all looking at other guys. In fact they only signed me up because I was at a qualifying weight class. And no one in that weight class wanted to box, as far as I understood. So they just took me to fill the gap. Because no one wanted to lose to Roniel. But it’s so happened that I actually broke down that Olympic champion. I would always get in the ring like it was my last time. “Blood up to my knees, no going back.” I went into that fight knowing that he was the champion and that he was good, but I wouldn’t say that I was afraid or anxious or something like that. For me it was just another fight.
Already in the first round, I realized how strong he was with his snapping punches. I actually missed a couple shots. I thought to myself “OK this is it. Either him or me.” So I started moving forward. And he took me up on that, because he thought “Well who is this guy? He’s a nobody.” So he decided to respond with the same aggression. Both of us went into this battle and he just couldn’t handle it. I broke him down simply with my stamina. In the fourth round he couldn’t handle it. He started hugging and hanging on me.
I think this was the most important moment of my amateur career and the highlight in general. Right after I won that fight my friends came up to me and said that he actually cried in his locker room because he did not expect to lose like that. He couldn’t understand how this could happen. Some obscure guy from Ukraine stole the win from an Olympic champion. The whole Kharkiv Sports Arena was roaring. You can find this fight on the Internet; it’s a very interesting fight.
https://youtu.be/Xc4Fy-6bdi8 Serhii Bohachuk vs Roniel Iglesias, World Series of Boxing
A key time in a boxer’s career is to become professional. How can you tell us this process, mentally and physically? Was it easy for you to overcome the difference between amateur and professional boxing?
Yeah it was actually very easy for me, because when I was in the amateurs three rounds were never enough for me. Oftentimes I would step in the ring and I would lose the first round, catch up in the second round, and dominate in the third round. But overall three rounds were not enough for me. Back then my trainer always joked that I always had to fight three rounds before the actual fight started because it took me a while to get into full action mode. That’s why I thought about going pro for a long time. I was simply waiting for the right offer, because I knew that it was something that I wanted to do. I’m a long-distance fighter, so I needed more time in the ring. I needed more rounds.
Almost all your career, except the last bout, has been in the United States. How did you get there? Would you like to fight in Ukraine?
I must say I had one fight in Russia. I think this was my 10th fight. On Usyk – Gassiev undercard. And of course I would love to fight in Ukraine. I would love to show my flights to my fans in Ukraine. Show it live and not on TV, because a lot of them want to see me fight live. And of course I’m planning to fight in Ukraine in the future. I will definitely fight in Ukraine.
In terms of how I came to the United States, it’s kind of a long story. But in short, I was preparing for the 2016 Olympics, and I ended up not qualifying for it. I have a very good friend who is a Sports Federation President in my city; and in the past we were talking about my professional career. So when I didn’t get in the Olympics he called me right away. He offered to go to the United States and I said yes. Originally we signed with Ural Boxing Promotion. And at that time they were working with Abel Sanchez, who was working with Shafikov, Ponomarev and Gassiev. So they just put me in the gym with Abel Sanchez. I didn’t even have a contract. Abel Sanchez was supposed to decide whether I’m a good boxer and worthy of a contract. We had a couple of fights together and he basically approved me and we signed the contract. We also signed a copromotion contract with Tom Loeffler. From there on Tom was making the flights happen. Very precise and successful; I’m very pleased with Tom’s work.
18 wins, 18 KOs. Impressive, you are not a heavyweight. Do you prepare specifically to knockout people?
Not really, I just step in the ring and I do my job. I’m not chasing it. Yes at the beginning there were fights where I was chasing the KO. But then Abel Sanchez told me, and I’m very thankful that he told me that and kind of instilled that in me that I shouldn’t be chasing knockouts. “Just box and the right shot will come to you by itself. If you win on points that’s good, if you win by knockout that’s even better. But never chase the knockout. Simply box and do the work.” And so I’ve been doing exactly that. Of course if I see the opportunity to do that, if I can see that my opponent is kind of swimming then I’m going for it. But I never do it from the beginning because it can always turn ugly for me. I can go for it and while at it, I can miss a lot of shots and this is very dangerous. Right now I step in the ring and I simply box. If I see that I can finish this early I’ll do it. But if I’m not certain I’m just going to be boxing and do the work.
Your latest bout was in Mexico, land of Latin people, full of heat in boxing and life. Could you feel it?
This was not my first time boxing in Mexico. In the WSB competition I was boxing in Mexico as well. I think I really felt it back then. What stood out for me this time was the climate. It was very humid. But in general I’m very familiar with Mexican culture, and I really like Mexican people. I know a lot of Mexican people here in Los Angeles, and I have a lot of Mexican friends. So when I got there it really wasn’t much different for me, and I felt very welcomed.
Also, it was your most difficult opponent and you also knocked him out. What are your plans now? Do you think you are close to the next step and face the top boxers in your division?
I think so. I don’t care who I fight. I am open for any boxer. I am ready to fight everyone. I am not afraid of anyone, and I am ready to fight them all. But right now it’s up to my promoter; whoever he will choose I will fight. But personally I am always ready for any boxer. I’m training very well and I have a very strict regimen. So I’m always ready to fight anyone.
You are WBC Americas Champion. Will you follow the WBC path to get closer to being world champion?
Yes, I’m open to fight any champion. And I value the WBC path.
I’ve heard you like GGG’s boxing style, and you share his promoter, Tom Loeffler. Is Golovkin your model in boxing?
There are a lot of boxers that I like. So I don’t have just one boxer that I really look up to. There are a lot of boxers from whom I’m taking some specific elements. For example I can like the technique in one boxer and I can also like the power in another boxer. So with Gennadiy I really like how physically strong he is. He is extremely powerful. When he hits, his punches are so heavy. And overall he is physically very gifted. I would like to be like him physically.
But I also like other boxers. For example, I really like Arturo Gatti. I really like him for his character. I also like the Klitschko brothers. There’s a saying in Ukraine: Fear is the friend of a smart athlete. And this is about the Klitschkos. They were so sensitive in that regard, they wouldn’t let anyone hit him. I really like that about them. They were very flexible and protective of themselves and wouldn’t let punches get to them. Lots of people didn’t like their style because they were not forward going boxers, not fighting with Mexican style; but they were fighting in a way where no one could hit them. There’s also a saying in boxing: Land ten times, miss nine times. And this is wrong. It’s better to land one punch and miss none. So that’s what I like about Vitali and Wladimir: very elastic, very focussed in boxing. I watch a lot of boxers, and I try to adopt a lot of elements from them.
How is Serhii Bohachuk outside the ring, in everyday life?
I don’t know, it’s hard for me to judge myself like that. I think I’m just a simple guy. Nothing crazy. I think this question should be for my trainer or anyone who is around me, who can see from the outside. But as far as I see myself, I think I’m just like anyone else, just a normal person.
Finally, could you say some words for our fans in Spain, who are reading you now?
For all the fans in Spain I just want to ask them to watch my fights and cheer for me and in turn, I will try to show them good and high-quality boxing, and I think that they will like it. Thank you!
Thank you so much. Good luck in your future!