Two years ago, 31-year-old professional boxer Alexey Zubov left Magnitogorsk, Russia, to live in Detroit and train at the legendary Kronk Gym for one reason: He wants to be world champion.
Under the close guidance of a trainer, and nephew of the late Emanuel Steward, Javan SugarHill Steward, Zubov (16-1, 9 KOs) gets closer to that dream with every victory.
Currently, world rated by the WBA at #11 and the IBF at #13, Zubov says he and Steward have come a long way in two years. “I came to Detroit to become a champion. I want to show everyone that I’m a world-class cruiserweight and I want to show everyone all the things Javan has been teaching me. He is a great trainer, and I have a very good relationship him. Working with Javan has helped me grow so much as a fighter.”
Zubov was 100-20 as an amateur in Russia and Europe at cruiserweight and heavyweight. He was Russian amateur cruiserweight tournament champion and a seven-time international amateur cruiserweight tournament champion in Europe. “I’ve learned so much about hand speed and footwork and about using intelligence in the ring – how you need to think when you’re in a fight.”
“I miss my parents, but we talk every day on Skype or Facetime, and they support me all the way. I don’t have many Russian-speaking friends in Detroit. Most of the time, I practice my English to try and learn it well. Every day, I challenge myself to learn new words. I’ve always been like that. Just like my boxing skills. Every day I push myself to be better.”
As a kid growing up in Magnitogorsk, Russia, cruiserweight Alexey Zubov heard stories about the fabled Kronk Gym and the late legendary trainer Emanuel Steward but never thought he’d have a chance to join the team. But then one day, the former amateur champion was asked to come to Detroit to spar with Kronk’s Johnathon Banks … and the rest is history.
“Alexey is able to learn a lot and absorb boxing knowledge easily,” said Hill. “He soaks it in. It’s amazing. I brought him in to spar with Banks and when we were training, Alexey just sat on the side and watched. Later, he was sparring with Johnathon and I told him to stop. I said ‘listen here. I’m training Jonathon Banks and you’re doing everything I told him to do. What’s wrong with you?’ Then I laughed and said ‘I like that. Keep watching. I’ll teach you everything you want to know.’”
“The only thing I worry about,” continued Steward, “is him being too excited. He’s very high-strung and wants to prove things. I have to control him and keep him from getting over-excited. That’s what we’ve been working on. He gets antsy when he’s excited.”
“Alexey has come a long way since arriving in Detroit,” said promoter Dmitriy Salita. “His development on the Detroit Brawl series of shows has been remarkable. Javan has taken a rough outline of a world-class fighter and turned him into a solid contender with championship potential. His future in America is very bright.”