A “lifetime achievement” is how Dmitriy Salita described what being crowned IBF light-welterweight champion would mean to him ahead of tomorrow’s night title fight against Amir Khan.
Scheduled to walk into the ring to the tones of Matisyahu, Salita, 27, has handled a media frenzy in his usual calm and assured style since after touching down in England from his Brooklyn home at the end of last week. One of his first assignments was to visit the Kosher Deli in north west London. Then it was off to Tyneside.
Showing no sign of big fight nerves, he told me from his hotel room after a training session: “I feel great and have been in Newcastle for almost a week, trying to get used to the atmosphere of the town.
“I feel ready to rumble and have been training very hard for this day.”
Cutting off to watch an advert previewing the fight on Sky Sports, he said: “In the US, Jewish boys don’t really fight but God works in strange ways and somehow my life took me to a boxing ring.
“All the hard work has been done. Now it’s about staying sharp and the small details. Mentally, I have to prepare for the big night as I’m here to fight and have to focus.”
With the bookies predicting a Khan victory, Salita is happy with the underdog tag. “I’ve experienced the media spotlight throughout my career and am used to it. It’s part of the game and I look forward to being in the spotlight again on Saturday.
“It will be very explosive with lots of fast movement and quick combinations. My fans can expect to see me win, hopefully by KO.
“Amir Khan is a nice guy. He conducts himself very well outside the ring. Under different circumstances I think we could be good friends but on Saturday I want to kick his butt.”
Khan believes otherwise. “I’m bringing my own judges — my fists will do the talking. But it won’t be easy,” he said. “Salita might win a world title some day but he is not taking mine off me.”
Salita knows that he will have to curb his appetite to ensure he stays within the weight limit. “I plan to enjoy this Friday night more than any other as it will be after the weigh-in.” Naming sushi, pizza, chocolate and baklava among his favourites, he said: “I’m dying to have some fish and chips after the fight.”
He is happy with how his career has progressed. “My growth in boxing and religion has been slow and steady. As a religious Jew, I’m just trying to do my best in this world. Amir has my belt. I have trained very hard and I am prepared to take it. I am going to do whatever is necessary to bring it back home.”