Several years ago when Juergen Braehmer was still under the Universum banner, he was dubbed “The hundred year talent” by his then-promoter, Klaus Peter Kohl. Such lofty praise was always going to be very difficult to live up to.
As things transpired, Braehmer, now 35 years old, made a run as WBO light heavyweight for 18 months, making two defenses. However, trouble outside the ring was never far away. He was incarcerated in the early 2000’s and out of boxing for 3 years before finding himself on the wrong side of the law again more recently.
He was first due to meet Beibut Shumenov in a unification, but pulled out at the last minute. A few months later he was scheduled to take on his mandatory challenger, Nathan Cleverly, but again he was a no-show. This time the WBO stripped him of his title. Many thought is was the last we’d see of Braehmer.
“It was a contractual mess and regarding the Shumenov fight, the worst treatment as a sportsman you can imagine,” Braehmer said through Thomas Schlabe, of Sauerland Events. “The hotel, the food – totally unacceptable!”
Thankfully, Braehmer (41-2, 31 knockouts) has managed to put those troubles behind him, switching his allegiance to German powerhouse Sauerland and winning three fights since returning.
“He is a very sharp fighter,” said Kalle Sauerland. “He beat Ricky Hatton [and] Carl Froch in the amateurs. A lot of people criticized him for pulling out [against] Shumenov and Cleverly but in fairness to him, things that were promised weren’t delivered, so he didn’t fight. After his troubles, he’s turned his life around 180 degrees. He was successful financially so he didn’t need to fight, but after the birth of his child, he’s come [back].”
With that in mind, Saturday is his proving ground, his second chance to regain what he feels was taken from him when he meets unbeaten American Marcus Oliveira for the vacant WBA World light heavyweight strap (Shumenov, who holds the WBA Super World belt, is still the recognized titleholder).
The card, which takes place in Germany, will also feature Kubrat Pulev, rated as the No. 1 heavyweight contender by THE RING, who hopes 2014 will bring a title shot against champion Wladimir Klitschko. Former amateur world champion Jack Culcay will stay busy against French junior middleweight Dieudonne Belinga, and the bill is rounded out with the likes of Enrico Koelling, Tyron Zeuge and Dominik Britsch.
AW – When you analyze Oliveira what do you see in terms of strengths and weaknesses?
JB – I do not waste much time on watching my opponent on tape at what he does good or not so good. A fight is about your own strengths and what you can do to your opponent – not the other way around.
AW – In your last fight back in August you outpointed Stefano Abatangelo; looking back on that fight can you tell us about it?
JB – Certainly, it was not my best outing since joining Team Sauerland but I still got my job done. It is difficult to fight against someone who does not have the intention to win but to just survive for twelve rounds. That is what happened here.
AW – Could you tell us about your team, your manager, trainer & promoter? Also what gym you train at, and what a regular day is?
JB – My coach is Karsten Röwer and most of the time I am joined in training by Enrico Kölling (light heavyweight) and Tyron Zeuge (super middleweight). Our gym is located in the eastern part of Berlin. At the start of our training regime we play either table tennis, football or basketball, which is useful for your co-ordination. Otherwise, it does not differ much from other boxers’ training regimes.
AW – Could you tell us about your youth growing up in Stralsund, Germany, and the path you took into boxing?
JB – There is not much to say. I had a normal childhood and grew up with five siblings. However, my childhood ended at the age of 15 when I decided to become an amateur boxer, joining a sports school in Schwerin. From that moment on I spent most of my time at a boarding home in Schwerin.
AW – You were a highly decorated amateur.
JB – My biggest achievement was winning the Junior World Championships in Havana, Cuba, in 1996 and my final amateur record stands at 95-5.
AW – As an amateur you beat Ricky Hatton, Carl Froch and Felix Sturm.
JB – Yeah, I beat those guys but hey, this is why I became a boxer. It is something I am very good at – same as Hatton, Froch and Sturm.
AW – Previously you had the image of the bad boy of German boxing. You seem to have put that behind you.
JB – I never really cared about what others said about me or what is written in tabloids. However, when some people went too far with it I sued them. To this date, I have not lost a case.
AW – When you look at the light heavyweight division today what are your thoughts? What do you think of the current champions? What did you think of Stevenson-Bellew and Kovalev-Sillakh?
JB – Competition is always good as you are able to prove yourself. Moreover, with all those fighters who make the 175-pound division so popular to watch it spells transcending interest. Stevenson and Kovalev are spectacular boxers, but you should not count me out with them around.
AW – In 2011 you pulled out of a unification with Beibut Shumenov and then a defense verses Nathan Cleverly. Could you give us your side of what happened?
JB – I am tired talking about it. It was a contractual mess and regarding the Shumenov fight, the worst treatment as a sportsman you can imagine. The hotel, the food – totally unacceptable!
[Editor's note: After the publication of this story, Cary Redlin, vice president of KZ Event Productions (Shumenov's company), felt compelled to respond and contacted RingTV with a different version of events. According to Redlin, there were no complaints at the time about accomodations, which were the same as his own, and previous claims from Braehmer about being sick were also unfounded. Redlin added that members of Braehmer's team had expressed discomfort about fighting outside of Germany.]
AW – Away from boxing what do you enjoy doing with your time?
JB – My family is my only hobby.
AW – In closing do you have a message for Oliveira and the light heavyweight division?
JB – Everything is possible!
Photos: (vs. Abatangelo) Martin Rose-Bongarts/Getty Images; (vs. Kuziemski) Ferenc Isza-AFP/Getty Images; (vs. Averlant) Martin Rose-Bongarts/Getty Images