Alina Zagitova steps into the ring – although it won’t be what some expected
Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova will take part in a training session with former Russian boxing star Oleg Saitov in Moscow later this month, it has been confirmed. Zagitova recently teased the move to boxing, hinting that the 2018 gold medal queen might even be in an exhibition bout.
“This is not a competition with Alina, but a master class. I was offered [the chance]and I happily agreed to give a masterclass with our beautiful figure skater,” said two-time Olympic gold medalist Saitov.
“I am very happy that Alina started boxing! Boxing is an interesting sport at any age.
“What will be on the program? The most important thing in boxing is defense, the ability to defend yourself, to move, to hit.
“In other words, there has to be a set of skills. When a person only knows how to hit, he will lack defense, and that is bad.
The “exhibition fight” is set to take place at Moscow’s Luzhniki Sports Complex on June 25 as part of the Russian capital’s Sports Day.
Zagitova, 20, recently teased on her social media that she is “getting ready for something new”, saying footage of herself wearing boxing gloves and doing some padwork in the gym.
It sent the Russian press into overdrive, with matchmakers clamoring for a showdown with the likes of Queen of Pop Olga Buzova and many other names in Russian showbusiness and beyond.
Russian Olympic figure skating champion teases boxing movement (VIDEO)
A showdown with Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Albert Batyrgaziev was then reported, raising fears of a dangerous lag, even in terms of training.
Batyrgaziev confirmed to RIA Sport on Thursday that he had indeed been lined up for a training event with Zagitova but was unable to show up as he is currently incapacitated.
“Unfortunately, due to an old injury that bothered me in the last fight, I will not be able to take part in an open training session with Alina Zagitova which was to take place as part of Moscow Sports Day on June 25. The idea was great, but the injury does not allow me to participate”, said the star.
Despite initial speculation of an exhibition contest, Zagitova’s boxing banter appears to be more modest in the form of her sparring session with 48-year-old Saitov, though it will likely still interest her legion of fans.
Olympic champion at the PyeongChang Games in 2018 and world champion the following year, Zagitova announced in December 2019 that she was taking a break from her career.
Although she hasn’t officially announced her retirement, the skating star hasn’t officially competed since then, instead skating at exhibitions and embarking on a career as a Russian TV presenter.
Russian figure skating queen Zagitova talks potential comeback
Her boxing crossover marks the final step for a Russian skating star in a different sport, after 2022 Olympic silver medalist Alexandra Trusova recently tried her hand at the long jump at a promotion event for the athletics in Moscow.