It’s so common, maybe a too-common start to a story, but it’s such a massive part why boxing exists, and should exist and is a net benefit to society. Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before...
Serhii Bohachuk grew up in the Ukraine, a town called Vinnytsia. “The economy in the country wasn’t great,” the 25-year-old boxer told me through interpreter Illya Vaskell. “I had two older brothers, my family was struggling to survive. And I was a smart kid and understood I had to be successful, and had to do something to help my family.”
Education and climbing a corporate ladder wasn’t in his blood, but boxing was, so Bohachuk — who now owns an 18-0 (18 KOs) record — latched on.
“It was the only sport I could afford,” he shared. “It was cheaper than any other sport, there was no special equipment. And not many others went, because people don’t want to get punched in the face. ‘Let’s go to the boxing gym, to get punched in the face.’”
He dipped his feet in at age nine or 10 at “The Dream Gym,” and remembers his first sparring session well.
“He was close to 150 pounds, bigger than me. Getting punched in the face wasn’t pleasant, I became angry, and thought about how to punch back. I punched harder than he punched me, and I thought, ‘This is working.’ The other kid was a friend from my youth, named Ruslan. He was one year older, and it was a real challenge sparring him.”
The sport spoke to Serhii and he excelled. Four years ago, he moved to America, because he’d been on a track to head to the Olympics as a member of the Ukrainian national team. Options were sifted and the possibility of making a return on sweat equity won out. Serhii’s contacts funneled him over to Abel Sanchez. On Feb. 3, 2017, he debuted against Matt Murphy in California, and as would become custom, stopped him.
Tyrone Brunson, he says, is the opponent he’s learned most from in their fight from Oct. 2019.
“It was a KO in the fourth round, and he was not in his prime, yes. But he was good. And the ref stopped it, because it was one-sided. This bout gave me a lot of experience, he wasn’t an easy opponent. After that fight I understood that I could go further, but after every one I think of what I needed to do to become a better boxer and go higher in the rankings.
“Now I was thinking more about defense, and with trainer Manny Robles we’re working on the defense more. My power comes naturally, so I can improve everything and that’s there, I can concentrate more on defense and Manny teaches how to think, not only throw.”
In his last fight, Serhii took Alejandro Davila, and he learned some things from that clash, too.
“It was a fight in Mexico, it was terrible weather, there was terrible rain,” he said. “The first round was not going my way, he was a very strong puncher. He threw some good shots, and he never gave up, he went at me like a bull. So I changed my tactics a little bit, and it worked, and they stopped the fight. I learned from that future fights would be harsher, boxers will be stronger and smarter, what room I have for improvement. I will be fighting guys who can take a lot of punches and stay in it.”
That brings us to tonight, and Brandon Adams, a former world title challenger.
“It will be the hardest bout of my pro career,” said Bohachuk. “I respect him very much, I watched his fights on YouTube, and winning will put me on an open road to finally talking about fighting the best at 154. It brings us that much closer to a title fight. I really cannot think too much of my future, though. I know that my goal is a belt, but for now the concentration is on March 4.”
The fight was first scheduled for Dec. 2020, but Bohachuk tested positive for COVID in November, and wasn’t able to recover in time.
“I was losing my sense of smell, my joints were aching,” he said, so he knew it wasn’t merely fatigue. “It was a little bit scary, because I got it, then (my interpreter) Ilya got it, his wife got it.”
Ilya and his missus Yana actually had to be hospitalized, but they cycled through the viral attack, and are OK today. “We have antibodies, we’re fine,” Ilya told me.
The boxer recovered after a couple weeks, got back to work, and now is even more appreciative of having his health.
“COVID is not only my problem, it’s a world problem,” he said. “So I’m thinking even more of my family, back in the Ukraine. It’s big, the support they expect and receive from me. I am like the head of the family, I have to take care of my mom, my nephews, etc.
“I want to show everything (against Adams), and maybe show some surprises. I want to show people real Ukrainian boxing, like Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, and show them about the new generation.”