Is Sebastian Zbik Prepared to Make History?
By Gabriel Montoya, from (June 4, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
After beating Domenico Spada in July of 2009, Sebastian Zbik claimed both the interim WBC middleweight title as well as the mandatory spot to face the real champion, then Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik would eventually lose that title in April of 2010 to current lineal champion Sergio Martinez, who held onto it long enough to ice Paul Williams in two rounds in November of last year. By March, a defense against the German-born Zbik was due and Martinez was all set to take care of his obligation. However, HBO, who was going to televise Martinez’s next fight, decided that Zbik was not acceptable as an opponent for their airwaves. Soon after, the network mandated that junior middleweight titleholder Sergiy Dzinziruk vie for the title. Zbik, who had honestly worked his way to the number one contender’s spot, was soon elevated to official WBC middleweight champion after that origination stripped Martinez of its belt.

  Fast forward to this weekend where Zbik defends that belt against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on HBO for that very middleweight belt HBO deemed him not worthy of fighting for back in March. The bout, held at Staples Center, seems to be marketed more as a coronation of “Prince Junior” than it does a “Welcome to America, Champ” party for Zbik. Such is boxing.

  Still, Zbik, who found boxing at just ten years old and began training at a sports school in Germany at age 12, is undeterred. He is here to make history and take home the belt he brought to the party.

  “Of course I am very proud and happy to be here. It is a big event for me but in the end, it is important to win the fight,” said Zbik at a recent media day at Fortune Gym in Hollywood, CA. “First, I am here to win the fight. When I win the fight, I will be very famous in Germany because it was 80 years ago when Max Schmelingwon the last world championship fight here and so we can make history with this fight. I don’t think about all the things before the fight. I think of them after.”

  Zbik has everything against him here in the US. Top Rank, who promotes Chavez Jr., is running the show here in L.A. Staples Center is sure to be filled with rabid Mexican-American boxing fans who want to see the son of a legend pull off his first world title win. Zbik has ten knockouts against 30 wins to his opponent’s 30 KOs in 42 wins and is the smaller man at 5’11½” to Chavez’ 6’. Still, Zbik feels ready as ever.

  “I think I am stronger. I am the champion and I am here to show I am a real champion,” said Zbik. “I saw some videos of him and I am very optimistic. I am here to win the fight. Since I am 12 years old, I train two times a day and that is why I am successful. That is why I am here now.”

  Between the two men, neither has a big name on his résumé. This is the biggest and toughest fight of both of their careers, though there is a slight edge for Chavez Jr. in that he has fought both in Mexico and the US many times while this is Zbik’s first fight here. With Zbik not seen as the real champion but simply as a titleholder, the idea that Chavez Jr. will have to take it from the champ to win can be thrown out the window. Zbik feels this fight is as good a chance as any to begin his title reign.  

“At the moment, I don’t feel like the real champion because it’s not very nice to get the belt on a green table. It is better to fight for it,” said Zbik. “So when I win the fight next Saturday, it is the first step for me to feel a little better with the belt.”  

Should he win, would he want to legitimize his title with a fight vs. Martinez?  

“At first, I will have to win with Chavez,” Zbik answered. “After that, we can talk about anything.”  

What Zbik does have going for him is that at age 29, and with a solid amateur background dating back to his pre-teens, he knows exactly who he is in the ring. He is a pure boxer who likes to fight from the outside, does not possess an inside game, so he holds a lot when there and will not be looking to fight out of character when the bell rings.  

“Yes. I am not a knockout puncher,” said Zbik. “If I say with ten knockouts in 30 fights I am going to knock him out, nobody will believe me.” I think I have many advantages. My speed, my reflexes, my defense and some other things we don’t want to talk about before the fight.”  

On the flipside, Chavez Jr. is a fighter whose work ethic has been questioned, possesses little amateur experience and is a fighter with good size and a solid beard but is flawed technically. Most of that plays right to Zbik’s strengths. That said, Zbik still expects a tough fight.  

“He is very strong,” Zbik said of Chavez Jr. “He is undefeated in over 40 fights. He is a little bit in the same situation as me. He doesn’t have the big names on his record, so I think he never fought somebody like me before and for me, also a very hard fight. I think he is not as strong as his father but I think he is a very strong fighter. On June 4, we will see how strong he is and how strong I am. Nobody can say before the fight. 12 long rounds for both of us. We will see after that.”  

When asked if he thinks that he can get a fair shake at the judging table, Zbik expressed confidence.  

“I think we will win the fight in a very clear way,” said Zbik. “After the fight, after 12 rounds- if it goes 12 rounds- there is no question on the fight.”  

But surely Zbik is worried about the pro-Chavez crowd…isn’t he?  

“No, absolutely not,” said Zbik. “I am looking forward to June 4. We have nearly 40 people from Germany.” Zbik laughed when someone said “40?” as if to say, “Well, why didn’t you say so?” “But I think we saw it in some other fights. For example, in the last [Arthur] Abraham fight, where there were many Armenians at the fight and they were quiet after two or three rounds. That is what we have to do at Staples Center.”  

If there is anything Zbik is worried about, he didn’t show it to the press. He did express some surprise that he was so calm leading into the fight.  

“I am surprised a bit by myself that I am relaxed about the moment but that is because I am prepared. We had very good sparring, very good everything. We are very well prepared and we are sure we will win the fight. That is why we are relaxed at the moment.”  

With all that is against him, from the venue to the opponent and his promoter, Zbik seemed affable and confident with the press. Perhaps it is because he is well prepared. Perhaps it is because with so much against him, how else should he be? Maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t know. If that is the case, Zbik certainly isn’t saying.  

“My prediction is that we win,” Zbik simply said with a smile.  

Not one to mock his opponent or make bold predictions he has no intention of living up to, Zbik ended the proceedings with a simple message to his opponent.  

“Prepare yourself and prepare well,” he said into the cameras, though clearly addressing Chavez Jr.  

Acted and spoken like a man well prepared. How that plays out in the end is just hours away.  

You can email Gabriel at, follow him on Twitter at and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim or tune into hear him live on Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST when he co-hosts the BlogTalk radio show Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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