Ogden veteran heavyweight Billy Zumbrun gets an opportunity to beat a top contender this Saturday, but he has to travel to Europe for the opportunity.
It's a journey he's eager to take.
The 39-year-old Zumbrun, 25-12-1, fights fifth-ranked Ruslan Chagaev, 28-2-1, at the Sport and Congress Center, in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The Uzbekistan native, Chagaev, 33, is a former WBA heavyweight champion.
Nicknamed "the white Tyson," his only losses are to heavyweight champions Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin.
In an ironic twist, five and a half years ago, Chagaev and Zumbrun fought on the same boxing card in Germany. Chagaev defeated American John Ruiz in the main event and Zumbrun, in the undercard, lost a 12-round decision to Ukranian Alexander Dimitrenko, the current European heavyweight champ.
"I think I match up very well with him (Chagaev)," said Zumbrun, who is aware that at age 39 this may be his last shot at being a contender. "I want to make a statement. I feel great," he added.
Working Zumbrun's corner will be Ogden's Ron Brown, a former middleweight boxer who is his trainer. Also traveling to Germany to help Zumbrun will be local mixed martial arts professional, Ogden's Craig Mock.
Because Chagaev is a left-handed fighter, Brown has mapped out a strategy in which Zumbrun can use his boxing skills to keep outside of Chagaev's comfort zone, hopefully forcing the Uzbekistan contender to turn and be off balance.
Yet, even if Zumbrun outboxes Chagaev, getting the decision in what is essentially his opponent's backyard (Chagaev resides in Germany) will be tough. There's a reason Zumbrun has 12 losses; living in Ogden he has to travel far to get big-money fights against contenders. Zumbrun has lost a questionable decision to former world heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe, as well as to contenders Mike Mollo and Donnell Holmes.
Chagaev is clearly the favorite against Utah's best heavyweight, but it's a challenge Zumbrun can't wait to confront. Speaking with Brown at his side, he says, "We just got to go out there and do the job."