Eleven months ago, Denis Lebedev and Guillermo Jones waged war over 11 frenetic, fast-paced rounds. Though Lebedev was winning the battle, he was losing the war, succumbing to terrible facial damage that cost him a five-day hospital stay. Unable to see out of either eye, Lebedev was unable to carry on, stopped on his feet with less than a minute remaining in the penultimate round.
It was later reported that Jones had tested positive for a banned diuretic. Though the result wasn’t overturned, Lebedev (25-2, 19 knockouts) was reinstated as the WBA cruiserweight champion.
With Lebedev fully healed this Friday, the pair will once again share a ring in Moscow in a much anticipated rematch.
This time, the heavy-handed Russian southpaw intends to exact revenge on his Panamanian foe.
“Only my victory is on my mind, nothing else!” Lebedev would tell RingTV.com.
In the build-up, Jones called the rematch, “Facial Surgery II.” It’s not something Lebedev, who’s been training with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles, hasn't risen to.
“All he has left to say is that he is a surgeon because as a boxer, he's not that great. I was beating him all night.” said Lebedev.
Here’s what else Lebedev had to say when RingTV.com caught up with him.
Anson Wainwright – You face Guillermo Jones in a rematch on April 25. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Denis Lebedev – Only my victory is on my mind, nothing else!
AW – The two of you shared a ring last May. It was a brutal fight. Could you talk us through it from your point of view?
DL – In the last fight, I didn't follow my plan. I got cut badly and wanted to finish the fight quicker before the sixth round. In the 10th round, I was cut above my second eye as well. I couldn't see anything from both of my eyes after the 10th round. Furthermore, everybody saw what happened.
AW – In the build-up to this fight, he's made some disparaging remarks about you, dubbing this fight, "Facial Surgery II." How would you respond?
DL – All he has left to say is that he is a surgeon because as a boxer, he's not that great. I was beating him all night.
AW – You sustained several bad injuries from the first fight. Can you tell us about them and how you recovered?
DL – I have been medically examined and, luckily, everything was good. Right away, I got right back to training. I was very happy I can box because boxing is my life.
AW – The rematch was ordered by the WBA when they decided that Jones had tested positive for a banned substance. The result stood but the title was returned to you. From your understanding, why was the bout not declared a no-decision?
DL – I'm not sure…it's still a question in my mind also. I'm just very happy that I have the chance to prove myself and show the world who I am.
AW – For this rematch with Jones, you have based yourself in Los Angeles and you're working with Freddie Roach. Why did you decide to do this? How has the experience been? Can you also tell us about what it's like for you?
DL – Training is going great as always. I feel part of a great team. Next to me are very dependable people that are helping me feel like I am at home. Also a lot of fighters from the [former] USSR are training here at the gym, which makes me feel very much like at home.
AW – If we can go back, what were things like for you growing up in Stary Oskol, Russia?
DL – Stary Oskol is my home; it was not tough. It felt great because it was my hometown. My mother is there and it felt great being near to her…my new home is Chekhov. I can't wait to see my family and friends soon!
AW – You usually wear colours from the Russian Army. It is obviously something that means a great deal to you. Could you tell us about that?
DL – It is actually the uniform of the Air Force. It is a Special Forces Unit and when I'm in the ring, I always feel like a part of the Special Forces.
AW – Interestingly, you had retired several years ago from boxing but a chance meeting with your good friend (former WBA heavyweight champion) Alexander Povetkin changed all that. Can you tell us about that?
DL – Yes, it was a sign of faith for me, I believe in signs…I tried to make money in different ways but always wanted to be back in boxing. When I met Povetkin, I knew it was a sign for me to get back into boxing and I did.
AW – The cruiserweight division seems loaded with talent. What are your thoughts on the division and also the other champions, WBC titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, RING/IBF champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez and WBO titleholder Marco Huck?
DL – I am very anxious to test myself with all the champions of the cruiserweight division, especially Marco Huck. I want to fight him again!
AW – Away from boxing, what do you enjoy doing?
DL – I spend a lot of time with my family, my kids and my wife. Also, I spend a lot of time with my two dogs. I have two big dogs and I like to spend time with them.
AW – In closing, do you have a message for Guillermo Jones?
DL – Yes…Guillermo, I'm ready. Your dirty tricks will not help you this time.