11:41 Jul. 19, 2016
Ukrainian WBC super lightweight champion is being victorious again
Having the love of an entire country is a beautiful thing, if one can get it.
Viktor Postol might have gotten close when he knocked out Lucas Matthysse of Argentina in the 10th round this past October at StubHub Center to win a vacant junior welterweight world title. The hard-hitting Matthysse was expected to win, but Postol beat the beast of Buenos Aires at his own game.
Postol returned to his native Ukraine to a hero's welcome.
"Everybody met me very well at the airport," said Postol, who Saturday will tangle with fellow champion Terence Crawford in a title-unification bout at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). "People were very excited. I would say the whole country was very happy for me because it's a very prestigious title, and to become world champion, not so many in my country."
Postol had at one point worked as a security guard at a mall in the Ukraine. A visit there proved very gratifying when store merchants wanted to smile for the camera with him.
"The guys who used to work with me, they're proud of me that I became a champion, that I was working with them before," Postol said. "So I'm just happy I'm taking pictures with them. It's just nice."
But don't confuse Postol's niceness with weakness. There is nothing weak about him.
"I was raised in a regular family in Ukraine," Postol said through his co-manager/translator Oleg Kovalchuk. "Nobody helped me. I was working myself to get what I want, to buy anything. It was hard-working time."
Postol began boxing at age 12, rose to No. 2 in the amateur ranks in his country before turning pro in 2007. By the time Postol (28-0, 12 KOs) got to trainer Freddie Roach, he was 25-0 with 10 knockouts. Roach admitted, however, that he wasn't certain Postol was championship caliber when he began training Postol ahead of his May 2014 fight against Selcuk Aydin at the Fabulous Forum.
"No, not sure right away," Roach said before a session with Postol at Roach's Wild Card Gym.
An 11th-round knockout of Aydin was followed by a decision over Jake Giuriceo in April 2015, six months before Postol would stun the boxing world with his knockout of Matthysse.
"The thing is just from watching him I saw how he broke people down and he would never take chances too early or anything like that," said Roach, now a strong believer in Postol. "He's very patient. He wouldn't really open up on a guy until he knew he had him and I really liked that about him. Patient and very smart."
What's interesting is that Postol came to Roach with just 10 knockouts in 25 fights. He has two in three fights with Roach, who said Postol now better understands when it's time to really pull the trigger on going for the stoppage.