The Austintown native will fight March 5 against Alexander Dimitrenko.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Chris Koval is showing a new determination and for good reason.
Running through Mill Creek Park at dawn, weight training at Fitch High's fitness center and going to the gym in late afternoons, the 22-year-old Austintown heavyweight has been on a rigid preparation schedule for the fight of his young professional boxing career.
Pat Nelson, Koval's manager, put together a bout that, if Koval is victorious, could propel him into the upper echelon of the heavyweight. On March 5, in Wilhelm-Dopatka-Halle, Leverkusen Kuppersteg, Germany, on a six-bout card promoted by Peter Kohl of Universum Box Promotion, Koval (20-1, 16 knockouts) will fight Alexander Dimitrenko for the vacant International Boxing Federation Youth Heavyweight Championship.
Dimitrenko, a native of Ukraine who resides in Hamburg, Germany, is also 22. He turned pro in December 2001 and is 17-0 with 11 KOs.
"This is an opportunity of a lifetime for Chris," said Nelson. "He will be able to step up in his sport against someone like himself with a bonus attached if he is victorious.
"Once a record in this sport has been built the next step is a world ranking. With a win here Chris can be ranked 15th in the world among all the heavyweights," Nelson added. "This is the prize, along with the bout offering Koval his largest payday."
One concern for the Koval camp is Dimitrenko, who stands 6-foot-7.
However, trainer Tom Cordell said Koval's last opponent, Joe Lenhart, was a "very big guy." Also, Koval has sparring sessions planned with Nick Firtha, who is 6-5, and Ray Austin, who is 6-6.
"I am excited and nervous because of the fight and this being the first time for me to be out of the United States," said Koval. "But this is everybody's dream, to have an opportunity like this. The IBF Youth title doesn't seem like much, but with a win it will legitimize me as a heavyweight contender. If that happens for me I will be among the best big guys who are around, many whom I have idolized."
Cordell said Koval has been training hard every day.
"Roadwork, weight training and gym work, the whole package," he said. "[Koval] knows what this fight means to his career, so he has to be fully prepared for this opportunity."
The main event on the March 5 card is a 12-rounder for the World Boxing Organization's Intercontinental Middleweight championship between Felix Sturm (22-1, 10 KOs) against Bert Schenk (36-1, 23 KOs).