Vadim Kornilov is a refreshingly modest powerbroker in a sport where the biggest mouths often accompany the broadest influence. The Los Angeles-based Russian has a senior position at World of Boxing, the promotional company headed by wealth entrepreneur Andrey Ryabinsky and, as such, works closely with the likes of Alexander Povetkin, the former WBA heavyweight champion who challenges Anthony Joshua for three of the four major world belts on September 22 at Wembley Stadium.
With the big show – to be broadcast by Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN Stateside – less than two weeks away, the mild-mannered but diligent Kornilov is still finalising negotiations with host promoter Matchroom to place up to three more of his fighters on the show. One of these, 12-0 Russian heavyweight Sergey Kuzmin, will face David Price on the card, in a showdown which pits the 2010 European Amateur ruler against the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist.
“We wanna fight him,” insisted Kornilov five weeks ago. “From what I hear he initially accepted but then changed the terms.” These issues led Price to instead take a fight with Sean Turner on an October 5 MTK show in Belfast, before the Irishman withdrew and the Kuzmin negotiations were reopened. They were concluded two weeks before the Joshua bill.
Kuzmin (31) has gradually worked his way up the rankings since turning pro in 2014 following a long amateur career fought at a very high level. As well as European success in 2010, en route to which he outscored double World and 2008 Olympic king Roberto Camarelle, he went on to take silver in the 2013 iteration after stopping Joe Joyce in their semi-final opening round. Kornilov is now keen to accelerate his progress and views Price as the perfect opponent against which to do so, especially after the Liverpudlian shared knockdowns with Povetkin in the third session in March, before being knocked out in the fifth.
“Kuzmin’s a heavyweight prospect, a good fighter and I thought the fans would like him,” Kornilov explained. “He fought AJ as an amateur and it was a very close fight. He has more of a boxer style but he does have power. He has the same trainer as Dimitry Bivol – Gennady Mashianov – and they have a similar style. With that and his amateur pedigree, he is definitely someone to watch out for.
“David Price vs Sergey Kuzmin was mentioned to us by Matchroom as Price is something of a name in England and he did give Povetkin a good fight. He would definitely be a test for Kuzmin, in my opinion it’s a really competitive fight and a good chance for Price to redeem himself, as well as being an attractive fight for fans. Price has lost already a good amount of times, isn’t it about time he proved himself, not just look for the big attractive fights; maybe he needs to rebuild now. If he beats Kuzmin maybe he’d be confident enough to fight the big guys again.”
Wembley opportunities are also being explored for a pair of 3-0 World of Boxing hopefuls from Uzbekistan, Shakhram Giyasov (the 2017 World Amateur champion and 2016 Olympic welterweight silver medallist) and Murodjun Akhmadaliev, who won bronze as a bantam at the same Rio Games, to add to his World silver the previous year.
*This story was updated on September 13.