It is the 70th anniversary of professional boxing in Germany and NYFights' Jab Hook is reporting on this international boxing event presented by Petkovic Boxing Promotion.
Part 2: A visit with two Bavarian boxing heroes, a world belt-holder and a prospect who are facing foreign foes on the April 6th main card in Munich.
(Author's note- Jab knows and likes these two boxers and is consequently somewhat biased and less objective. These talks were done in German, Jab has interpreted them into English for this summary, which adds more bias, sorry.)
Mild sunny weather, it was the perfect day to blast down the German autobahn A-8 from Munich to Augsburg to spend some time with two popular boxers from Bavaria.
Jab drove in the right lane slowly at ~90mph, as the big BMWs and Daimlers whizzed by at 140mph expressing their traditional “right to race” on the autobahn.
Half an hour of white-knuckle autobahn intensity and Jab was already at the 1. Boxclub Haan Augsburg e.V.. These boxing facilities are the home of trainer Alexander Haan, who trained and cornered heavyweight Francesco Pianeta in his decision loss to Tyson Fury last year. But Haan's boxing pride and joy is less than half the size of the big guys.
“Five foot two, eyes of blue, but oh what those five foot can do!” That American pop song from the 1920's describes Tina Rupprecht very well.
At 5ft-2in and 104lbs she fits her boxing alias “Tina Tina” perfectly. Rupprecht won the WBC World Female Minimum-weight Title in June 2018 and defended it successfully last December in Munich. The 26yo has been trained by Alex Haan since she started boxing as an amateur 12 years ago.
Born and raised in Augsburg, Tina is polite and confident. She is a classy boxing professional with an aura of strength packed into a small, athletic body. Tina was relaxed and open as we talked about women's boxing and her next bout.
Here are some highlights of Jab's chat with terrific, “Tiny” Tina Rupprecht.
Comparing women's and men's boxing simply:
Tina Rupprecht- “Boxing is boxing, whether two men or two women are in the ring. There are naturally a few differences with men, as also in other sports.”
Comparing women's and men's boxing overall:
Tina Rupprecht- “Yes, we women do have it tough…starting with financial aspects, our pay is much, much lower than men's. As a woman, it's difficult to make a living in sports.”
Regarding challenges finding training/sparring partners as female minimum-weight:
Tina Rupprecht- “Yeah, I can't really put more than 48kgs(106 lbs) on the scale, and don't really want to…(go up)…or down to atom-weight.” “
“True, it is challenging to find training partners, but in the meantime we have built a very good network, and for this camp we have two good ladies from the Ukraine who are around 50kg, maybe up to 55-57kgs, to spar with.”
Tina also mentioned that she does spar with an amateur of ~58 kg. He is only a teenager, but is a good sparring partner. She said he takes some steam off his power, but otherwise spars normally with her. Tina added, that he cannot fully simulate the challenges of boxing another woman. “It's just different…”, said the WBC champ.
About her her boxing career:
Tina Rupprecht- ”I'm putting it all on boxing”.
Basically, Tina feels as a champion it's now or never for her boxing development. She even answered that if offered a good-paying, “9 to 5” job today, she'd kindly decline, walk back into the gym and get back to her dreams. Currently doing well with adequate sponsorship, Tina is pleased that she can give 100% of her time and energy to advancing her boxing skills and status as a champion.
On women's boxing styles:
Jab postulated to the champ that there are two basic styles that correspond to most female boxers. “The technician”, she is well-schooled in the fundamentals of hit, but don't get hit. She prefers a slick boxing match. “The brawler”, she is a basic boxer who moves forward, throwing punches in bunches. She wants to stand toe to toe.
Tina Rupprecht- “Yes, that's true. There are very, very tough Mexican boxers who just give it their all. And then the Japanese boxers, all those ladies are technicians. I am mostly a technically-oriented boxer, BUT I can pound it out too!”
Tina Rupprecht– “There was no film on my last opponent from Venezuela. We had prepared for a ‘technician', but she was a ‘brawler and round 1 was very tough. During the 1st break Alex Haan immediately instructed me on how to adjusted our tactics. We have worked together so many years now. Alex knows just what to say and how to get me to shift strategies.”
“We actually train for exactly such changes in our camp, with rotating sparring partners who use contrasting styles that force me to adapt.”
Concerning the April 6th fight order of the main card:
Jab Hook noted that Tina Rupprecht is the only boxer with a world title on the card, but she will box two steps behind the main event. Tina looked up, sighed slightly and nodding said, “Yeah, that's right…” as she chuckled. Then Jab expressed the opinion that actually “Tiny” Tina should be the headliner. Oh Tina let out a real laugh then, saying,“That's true.”
It was almost like it was a relief for the champ, a comfort for her to hear an outsider, an aficionado, an old man say it out loud. “You deserve better champ”.
Jab Hook came away from this conversation with the WBC World Female Minimum-weight titlist very impressed. He has seen a number of her bouts on film, and was ringside as Tina won her belt last summer. Jab already knew Tina as a high-quality boxer, but now that person behind the belt has turned out to be such a strong, ambitious, mature individual. How she balances that with her humility and kindness baffles him. Jab also admits that Tina appeared to grow larger over the course of our hour together, an amazing phenomenon!
Serge “The Bavarian Sniper” Michel walked in smiling as Tina and Jab were finishing up our talk in the coffee lounge at Boxclub Haan Gym. We hugged and he sat down to join us. Serge and Jab have been boxing buddies for a couple of years. We met when we both started working for DAZN.de as expert boxing commentators.
Born in Kolendo, in eastern Russia on the island of Sakhalin, just north of Japan, Serge's family came to Bavaria in 1994. He started boxing at 12yo in his Dad's gym. In an all too familiar boxing story, Serge struggled as a youth, hung out with the wrong crowd, and found himself in trouble with the law repeatedly. Twice confined, he was last released in 2010 and began to focus more on his boxing.
Serge won the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Bavarian championship, as well as the 2014 German Championship. In the coveted “Chemiepokal” Serge took the 2013 silver medal and in 2016 the gold medal at light heavyweight. He qualified for the German team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but was eliminated in the 1st round.
Turning professional in March 2016, “The Bavarian Sniper” has earned a record of 8(6)-0 as a prospect at light heavyweight. He lives in Trauenreut, Bavaria with his wife and three sons.
Finishing his banana, Serge smiled a goofy grin and Jab had to smile with him. But when his face goes back to its default setting, “Sniper” Michel's countenance generates a latent menace, almost like his eyes are taking aim on you. He is friendly, but seems somehow troubled to Jab. Telling me he was resting in his room, Serge explained he's been bunking at the gym for this camp. There's just not enough time for the >4 hour round trip from home to Augsburg. He says it helps him concentrate on his preparation for his 9thbout.
Here are some more highlights of Jab's conversation with the lethal “Bavarian Sniper”.
On the benefits of a strong amateur career with Olympic experience:
Serge said that he profited greatly from the high-quality opposition and the pressure of competing in major international events.
Serge Michel- “Fighting the best forced me to improve my technical boxing and it gave me confidence that has been very useful in my professional bouts.”
Regarding his professional boxing career:
Serge has fought regularly averaging 4 bouts a year, he mentioned keeping busy with fights and maintaining a media presence as key aspects of his early career strategy. As a professional boxer without a day job, business sponsors have enabled Michel to give boxing 100%.
About his opposition to date:
Congratulating Serge on his 2nd anniversary as a professional, Jab asked him what he has learned from boxing opponents that are ranked below him. Serge quickly listed the benefits, such as collecting rounds of experience and varying his training methods. He added that in his 3rd pro bout in June 2017 he broke his right hand against the Georgian journeyman Zura Mekereshvili 17(13)-9(2) in the 2nd round. Michel's superior boxing and movement allowed him to survive fighting with only his left hand as he won 80:72 on all the judges scorecards. Though quite an accomplishment for a young pro and an excellent experience, Serge admits his opponent's level helped make that win possible.
Ryan Ford, his next opponent:
Jab Hook asked Serge to confirm the talk the Canadian Ford was not Petkovic Boxing Promotion's 1st choice. Serge Michel- “That's right, we had an offer on the table for Igor Mikhalkin. But they turned it down about 5 weeks ago with explanation.”
“Adam Deines was also under discussion, but they were not interested.”
The “Bavarian Sniper” feels the risk with Ford is his good conditioning, as he has gone 12 rounds a number of times, and he is a strong guy, too. But Serge is confident that using his reach to fight outside, avoiding foolish exchanges, and working in and out will allow him to prevail.
The pressure of being the main event on the Munich card:
Serge Michel- ”It was tougher being the main even in my home town of Trauenreut, which I have already done twice. When your whole hometown is in the audience, that is pressure.”
“I'm ready to enjoy headlining this weekend.”
If Serge Michel could change one thing to improve boxing:
Without any hesitation, he focused on the meaning of a single loss in today's boxing. That promoters, fans, boxing broadcasters and pundits sanction boxers severely for their 1st loss, and then abandon the boxer for their second defeat. Serge's suggested solution is communication and an educational campaign with top veteran boxers who are icons, but have lost at least once. These boxing stars would open the discussion and help dissolve the myth of the undefeated.
The wish list of his future opponents:
Ignoring any real constraints hindering such match ups, Serge would love a German showdown with any of the 4 guys ranked ahead of him. Even better, a comprehensive light heavyweight tournament with all the top talent to crown a true German champion in the division. Jab Hook and Serge strongly agreed that this would give the German boxer who won a real chance on the world stage.
Another big exchange of smiles, then Serge Michel and Jab Hook did a casual fist bump and said, “See you at the weigh-in bro.”
More about “Tiny” Tina Rupprecht and Serge “Bavarian Sniper” Michel and their boxing match ups is coming in Part 3: Main card predictions for the Ballhaus Forum, Munich by Jab Hook.
“Jab Hook”, aka “Brooklyn” Joe Healy is a boxing writer, an expert commentator for DAZN.de, a professional cutman from the BOXWERK gym, and a licensed referee/judge in amateur boxing. A lifelong aficionado born in Brooklyn and living in Munich, “The Sweet Science” is his passion. Please feel free to contact him as Jab Hook on, FaceBook or https://www.linkedin.com/in/