The consensus within the boxing community is that while Vyacheslav Senchenko has undoubtedly been successful, he has been protected to some degree.
If you ask him about it, THE RING’s No. 6-rated welterweight won’t necessarily disagree.
“I have a promoter, Yuri Ruban, that guides my career. Every boxer has a promoter that protects his career. Just because I have not fought in the US does not mean I have not had tough fights,” Senchenko told RingTV.com. “This time my mandatory was Malignaggi and I am looking forward to this fight. If they tell me my next fight is (Floyd) Mayweather, I will fight him next.”
Senchenko (32-0, 21 knockouts) has made three defenses of the WBA title, and will look to make his fourth this Sunday on Integrated Sports pay-per-view against the biggest name he’s faced yet, Paulie Malignaggi.
Since winning the strap from Yuriy Nuzhnenko in 2009, the 35-year old has faced Motoki Sasaki, Charlie Navarro and Marco Antonio Avendano, all run-of-the-mill WBA-approved challengers. Only Navarro was able to take more than a round off of him once the scorecards were turned in.
His indifference toward opponent selection and commitment to adhering to the sanctioning body’s rules is similar to that of his Ukrainian compatriots, heavyweight kingpins Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.
Let your promoter and sanctioning bodies choose the opponents, and fight whoever they may be.
Early on in the fight’s promotion, Senchenko didn’t sound particularly impressed with this particular selection, calling Malignaggi “nothing special.” Whether he has seen something new, or is shying away from any trash talk that might motivate his opponent, his tune has changed a little.
“I don’t consider him a weak opponent. He is a good, strong opponent,” insists Senchenko. “But I am not going to back down. He deserves this fight, he has been a good figher for a long time. He has fought some good fighters. I am not underestimating him.”
While he’ll continue to keep it simple and leave things in Ruban’s hands, if he is victorious on Sunday he does have some grandiose plans of his own.
“If there is a good offer I would be interested in fighting in the US,” said Senchenko. ”What I wanted I already accomplished. I became World Champion and have defended my title 3 times. But I would also like to end my career as an undefeated fighter.”
He could, of course, retire right now and have that distinction. However, he’s not mailing it in, and is staunch in his quest to be noticed by American audiences. The fighter and his team actively pursued US distribution of the Malignaggi bout, and found it on pay-per-view, marking his first appearance commercially available to North American viewers.
In addition, he’s moved his training camp to Los Angeles, Calif. and enlisted the help of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.
Already a sound technical boxer, having competed in the 2000 Olympics for his country, Senchenko was looking to bring some variety to his attack. In previous fights, he has relied almost solely on an arrow-straight jab and a heavy right hand to control his made-to-order opponents.
On Sunday, he says, there’ll be more on the menu.
“Freddie Roach hasn’t changed my style. He has added a lot of new things. He added new combinations and has helped me improve my boxing skills,” said Senchenko, who still won’t be abandoning his bread and butter. “I believe the better jab will be the difference in this fight and my jab is much better than his.”
Malignaggi (30-4, 6 KOs) has been a recognizable name and staple on American television for years, and three of the four fighters who have managed to beat him—Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan—have all gone on to larger levels of stardom, and the accompanying larger paydays.
Senchenko has left everything else in the hands of his supporters, but if he wants to follow those foreigners who found American fame, that fate is squeezed firmly in his fists.
Follow Corey Erdman on Twitter @corey_erdman