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The Long Way Back-Grigory Drozd


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Grigory Drozd's career can be summed up like this: early on, he showed promise, but effed up in an important fight and lost it, so he had to wait a very long time to get another big shot. And land one, no less. ;-) His career is pretty impressive in that he only has that one loss, to the very good Firat Arslan, who went on to win the WBA title instead of him back then. He scored 40 wins in all, 28 by knockout. Drozd was known for his strong and very chiseled build, as well as good punching power and durability. However, by the time he had finally captured that world title, he was already 35 and would only manage to defend it once before retiring. He retired due to an injury actually, but had he been younger, it surely wouldn't have forced him to retire. Anyway, here is the story of Grigory Drozd, "Pretty Boy" of Russian cruiserweight boxing.


He was born 26 August 1979 in Prokopyevsk, Russia, a small town in southern Siberia. He started training karate at 12, before switching to Muay Thai, where he was the world champion in 2001. He started boxing just before that and after only 3 amateur fights, he turned pro in April 2001. He went undefeated in his first 25 fights there, standing 6'1 (186 cm) and with a reach of 76" (193 cm). In between he captured the IBO Inter-Continental cruiser title by beating Saul Montana by a TKO9 in March 2004, in Inglewood, California. In January 2006, he faced the 19-0 Pavel Melkomyan, who had a victory over Krzystof Wlodarczyk, whom Drozd would face much later. The fight was in Germany, where Drozd had relocated to and he came off the deck in round 2 to put Melkomyan down in round 4 and down and out in round 5. With that, he beat his first rated opponent. In July that year, he won the vacant WBC International title by stopping Mauro Adrian Ordiales by a TKO3. And then came the Arslan fight; it was a WBA-eliminator and took place on 28 October same year, at Porsche Arena in Stuttgart. Drozd opened well against the somewhat shorter Arslan and landed some good body shots in the first round and was more aggressive of the two. Drozd looked like he had control over Arslan, yet towards the end of the round he started holding for some reason, indicating that he wasn't in top shape. He also connected with some good head shots to close the round. The fight got a bit more competitive in round 2, but Drozd was still on top and landing and throwing more. Arslan's high guard kept him from taking too many shots to the head however. Arslan started to counterpunch effectively in round 3 and landed some clean punches to the head, but Drozd answered with his own combination to the head. Drozd went on the offensive in round 4 and emptied his guns, but was unable to really hit Arslan with a decisive punch and then at the end of the round Arslan staggered him with a right to the head which sent him into the ropes. He followed it up with a big left hook which also hurt Drozd. In round 5, Drozd looked winded and started leaning against the ropes, ducking and diving. Arslan then attacked and hit him with several big lefts and rights. As they moved away from the ropes, Drozd banged away at the body but was visibly spent. Arslan once again drove him to the ropes, where he punished him for about 40 seconds before the ref jumped in and waved it off, with 32 seconds left.


It was a big blow to his career, but also a learning experience. He progressed and would remain undefeated for the rest of his career, but in the fight against the very tough Darnell Wilson, a former heavyweight, he suffered an injury which sidelined him. He became the first man to stop Wilson, by a corner retirement in 10. He also stopped the veteran Rob Calloway before that by TKO7, to win the WBA Asian Boxing Council and PABA titles. The Wilson fight was in 2009 and after it Drozd was ranked no.1 by WBO and no.2 by WBA, but the injury kept him out of the ring thruout 2010 and he returned in March 2011. In February 2012, he stopped the former light heavy contender Richard Hall by a corner retirement in 8, due to a cut. On 17 December that year, he fought Jean Marc Monrose for the vacant WBA International title and beat him by UD12 after dropping him twice in round 9. Next year, on 5 October, he took on Polish Mateusz Masternak, who was 30-0 and a defending European champion. The fight was in Poland but Drozd dominated and punished Masternak thruout the fight, finally stopping the tough Pole in round 11 after pummeling him in a corner. After defending that title once in an easy fight against Jeremy Ouama of France by a KO1, he finally got the chance to win a world title, WBC one even. His opponent was another Pole: Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, who had reigned for 4 years and made 6 defenses. The fight however was in Moscow, at the Dynamo Palace of Sports, 27 September 2014. Drozd looked ultra-ripped as usual and was dominant, sending Wlodarzcyk down to one knee with a body shot in round 8. It looked like he might score a stoppage, but the tough Pole weathered the storm and Drozd later tired and became content to win on points-which he did, FINALLY lifting that world belt! They were supposed to have a rematch in May next year, but Wlodarczyk pulled out with an infection and his countryman Lukasz Janik stepped up. Janik was no match for Drozd and was stopped in 9 rounds on 22 May 2015, at Luzhniki in Moscow. He was down in round 7 and could not defend himself against Drozd's famed body attack. Sadly, it turned out to be "Pretty Boy's" last fight. He was supposed to defend again, but got injured in training and after being away for over 2 years, was finally stripped in December 2017. In January 2018, he announced his retirement at the age of 38. He stated he intends to work on the development of boxing in his country.


Grigory Drozd had everything a boxer should have to succeed. However, he was unlucky with injuries and it took him too long to climb back on top after that lone loss to Firat Arslan. It was a shame that he had to retire so soon after finally reaching his goal, and didn't get to defend his title much, but that's boxing for you. Thank you for reading this.




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