PHOTO CREDIT: John Ackerly

A Russian national with a Spanish name. Al Siesta should be considered unique compared to the boxing promoters along the south coast that have preceded him. His real name Albert Khachaturov had been switched to his DJ name of Siesta, after a successful stint as a DJ for the likes of Ministry Of Sound, and other recognisable names of the south coast’s clubbing scene.

The show in Portsmouth will be Siesta’s sixth promotion, with Latvia and Lithuania hosting the bulk of his already promoted events.  Having already promoted a successful show in Southampton earlier this year, Siesta has turned his attention to the neighbouring naval city of Portsmouth, just 22 miles down the road. Being a proud Sotonian, I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous towards Siesta’s decision to promote a show in a city that I had grown up to view as the enemy. So, why Portsmouth?

“You know what? Everything is perfect for boxing in this city, I love it, we are buzzing! For me as a promoter, it’s an incredible thing to work in the city of Portsmouth. It’s a big thing that boxing is coming back to Portsmouth big time. We will try to deliver and try to make it a regular thing. Get it televised and take it to the next level. It’s a serious event, for the first time in history we have the WBC coming to Portsmouth. Portsmouth’s boxing community is much more clued up and much more developed in Southampton in my opinion.”

Siesta’s last UK promotion in Southampton, intrigued me, especially as I come the area. The show ANTIDOTE had an international feel to it, with fighters from Kazakhstan, Sweden, Switzerland, Africa and the UK featuring on the card. The show a slightly surreal feel to it; Spencer Fearon was ringside for commentating duties with South African TV station Super Sports. In regards to the fights on the card, the televised fights at least were well-matched, competitive fights. The WBO European and WBC Youth title’s were also on the line, incidentally the first time in history Southampton had hosted the two governing bodies.

“This is not a joke situation here. 100 percent competitive fights, all the televised fights will be 50/50!”

Music to my ears, too many of my Saturday evening’s have felt wasted watching cards over packed with 1/100 fights, as young British fighters continue to pad their already padded records against much weaker opposition. Siesta clearly shared they same sentiment. The idea of making up his promotions of mainly 50/50 competitive fights was obviously integral to his philosophy and vision.

“If you are only preserving an undefeated record, how is the fighter going to learn? This is the question! It’s all good having an amateur background, but if you have never been in a hard fight, how are you going to know how to swim in deep waters? We are not here about the undefeated thing, we are here building and testing people, to pursue people’s dreams.”

The show this Saturday at the Mountbatten center in Portsmouth was shaping up to be an improved version to that of the show in Southampton this May. The card featuring two WBC title fights; Paul Kamanga (20-1) Vs Christopher Sebire (26-9-1) for the Super Lightweight WBC international title and the highly rated Welterweight Michael Mckinson (12-0) fights for the WBC international silver strap against former British and European champion Colin Lynes (39-11).

“Let me tell you about Colin Lynes; He has no doubt under any circumstances that he is going to lose. He’s 100 percent confident. He’s been asking me ‘what are we going to do after this fight?’ So that’s how serous Colin Lynes is. He’s in great shape as well. It’s the same with Paul Kamanga’s opponent, Christopher Sebire. He’s is coming from France, bringing his parents, so he’s obviously taking it very seriously. He lost to Chris Jenkins a couple of years ago, now he feels like he can beat Paul Kamanga.”

For Siesta’s second UK promotion, he has opted for more of a local flavour compared to his Southampton event. Local favourite Floyd Moore and young contender Lucas Ballingall join Mike McKinson as the local attractions this Saturday. It certainly has helped with the ticket sales in the local area, as it looks to be sold out. However having promoted in Lithuania, Latvia and now the UK, it was clear Siesta had plans to reach new audiences and develop areas where boxing is not supported enough.

“I am looking to expand. If you put on good events people raise to the occasion. I love Portsmouth, I love everything about this area. It’s all beautiful, I have a good feeling about this. With god’s will, everything will go to plan. I am looking forward to it.”I am looking to expand very much so, I am going for it. I do have enough expertise in this business alongside good contacts and support from people that will allow me to do that.

Strides have clearly been made on to Siesta’s second promotion on the face of things so far. Former World champion Anthony Crolla and Sky Sports Spencer Fearon have been enlisted to host UNBREAKABLE this weekend, alongside Russian, Scandinavian, French, African, German and Slovenian TV airing this event, Siesta has maintained an international and professional feel to his show.

The Russian who boasts WBC Cruiserweight World Champion Mairis Briedis in his stable, clearly ambitious had indicated constantly he has big plans within boxing, ending our chat with;

“This is just the beginning!”

By Adam Noble-Forcey