Oleg Maskaev had a chance to do away with Peter Okhello with one good punch only. However, The Big O gave 12 rounds of pleasure to his fans. As a result, Maskaev defended his title of the WBC heavyweight champion in a very difficult fight with Uganda’s Peter Okhello.
When the fight was over, Maskaev told reporters that it was a landmark fight for him, because he had won it as an official Russian citizen. “I have always thought of myself as a Russian. It never occurred to me that the problem with the Russian citizenship could be solved so quickly. I would like to thank President Putin for his efforts at this point. The fact that I entered the ring under the Russian flag and as a Russian citizen gave me a lot more inspiration to win the fight,” Maskaev, aged 37, said.
Maskaev was leading the fight as it was drawing to its end. However, The Big O failed to knock Okhello down. Everyone knew that Maskaev would be crowned as the winner in the fight before the referee’s decision.
“I knew that the fight was going to be hard. My rival knows how to stand the shots. Peter even managed to quickly recover from a knockdown. I wouldn’t say that it was the major fight in my whole fight. Each fight is equally important to me,” Maskaev said happily.
On December 9 President Vladimir Putin signed a decree giving the Russian citizenship to Oleg Maskaev, who currently resides in the USA. Organizers of the boxing match between Maskaev and Okhello sent a personal invitation to Putin, but the President could not arrive to see the fight.
Russia’s Maskaev weighs 108.9 kilos, whereas his rival Okhello has 115.4 kilos of weight. The difference did not upset Maskaev before the fight: “Weight is not the most important factor in boxing. I do not pay first priority to it, I trust my feelings about the moment,” said he.
The official fight for the WBC World Champion title was held in Russia for the first time ever. About 14,000 people packed Moscow’s Olympic Stadium to see the fight. Many of the viewers came from other regions of Russia.
Russia’s Nikolai Valuev and Ukraine’s Vitali Klitschko, both heavyweight world champions (WBA and IBF respectively) and Russia’s first-ever world champion in professional boxing, Kostya Tszyu, were present at the fight between Maskaev and Okhello as guests of honour.
Maskaev was born in Kazakhstan on March 2, 1969 when it was part of the Soviet Union. He has lived in the United States for a decade and is a U.S. and Russian citizen.
Based on Russian media news reports
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov