“The Lion” roars for a title shot [Archives:2008/1121/Last Page]

January 17 2008

By: Yousef Mawri
For The Yemen Times

MICHIGAN ) Boxer Brian Mihtar, aka “The Lion,” a nickname his trainers gave him due to his heart and determination in the ring, is seeking to add another victim to his winning list as he prepares for his highly anticipated Feb. 1 boxing match at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.

With an impeccable record of eight wins, seven knockouts and zero losses at this point in his career, it'll be the undefeated Yemeni boxer's first shot at competing for a world welterweight title. He'll first compete in the World Boxing Foundation's All-Americas Title Eliminator, and if successful there, he'll fight for the WBF All-Americas Title just 16 days after the Palace fight.

Asked if his upcoming fight at the Palace may be a turning point in his career, Mihtar says, “I fight every fight as if it's my last. The Feb. 1 bout is a very big fight for me because it'll give me the chance to showcase my talent in front of my home crowd and also bring me one step closer to a title shot, in sha'allah.”

2007 was a defining year for Mihtar, who won all four of his fights, giving him solid recognition as a force to be reckoned with in the boxing world. His impressive record and his unique ring tactics captured the attention of famed American boxing trainer Emanuel Steward.

Having trained world champion boxers Lennox Lewis, “Prince” Naseem Hamed and many more, Steward gives his input on “The Lion”: “Mihtar is a very well-coordinated boxer with high intelligence. He has pure instinct to catch his opponents' mistakes and make them pay for it in the ring. Most fighters must train day and night in the ring to get that instinct, but Brian was just born with it. If he keeps doing what he's been doing, he'll become world champion very soon.”

Asked if he has any advice for fighters up against “The Lion” in center ring action, Steward quickly replied, “Don't make any mistakes because he'll make you pay.”

In addition to becoming a furious competitor and a fan favorite, 2008 is said to be the year Mihtar will receive his well-deserved world welterweight title shot, as he plans to partake in many more bouts than in 2007. The boxer and his management, aka Team Mihtar, expect to close out 2008 with at least 10 more victories, giving him a professional record of 18-0 and putting him in line for a shot at the world title.

Previously training at Dearborn's Kronk Boxing Gym, Mihtar was invited to Puerto Rico this past summer to train with Welterweight titleholder Paul “The Punisher” Williams. Mihtar claims to have learned all of the tricks of the ring from the champion fighter, which hopefully will assist his development in becoming a champion one day, or according to Steward, “very soon.”

Mihtar began his professional boxing career with an impressive 2001 knockout in front of his home crowd at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. His great start carried momentum to his second professional fight, which was broadcast live on ESPN (the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network). In that fight before a Florida crowd, it was Mihtar who emerged victorious by delivering a TKO (total knockout) to heavily favored Joe Benjamin.

London's Boxing News magazine terms Mihtar “a crowd pleaser,” which is why fans from many diverse groups across the U.S. travel to see him fight. With most of his professional fights broadcast nationally on ESPN and Fox Sports due to high fan demand to see his fights televised, it's those fans Mihtar calls upon to support him Feb. 1.