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Vassiliy Jirov

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Vassiliy Jirov
Jirov on a Kazakhstani postage stamp
Vassiliy Valeryevich Jirov

(1974-04-04) 4 April 1974 (age 50)[2]
Other namesThe Tiger
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[1]
Reach74 in (188 cm)[1]
Boxing record
Total fights42
Wins by KO32
Medal record
Representing  Kazakhstan
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1996 Atlanta Light heavyweight
World Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1993 Tampere Middleweight
Bronze medal – third place 1995 Berlin Light heavyweight
Asian Games
Bronze medal – third place 1994 Hiroshima Light heavyweight

Vassiliy Valeryevich Jirov (Russian: Васи́лий Вале́рьевич Жи́ров; born 4 April 1974), sometimes known as Vasily Zhirov, is a Kazakhstani former professional boxer who competed from 1997 to 2009, and held the IBF cruiserweight title from 1999 to 2003.[3] As an amateur he won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics,[4] as well as consecutive bronzes at the 1993 and 1995 World Championships, all in the light heavyweight division.

Amateur career[edit]

Jirov took up boxing in 1986 when he was 12, studying at the Balkhash Technical School. His first coach was Alexander Apachinsky (Merited Trainer of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Master of Sports of the USSR). Jirov later recalled that:

I came to boxing after seeing the movie "Rocky", I was eager to be like Rocky. The first time in the ring was painful, I welcomed punches, there were bruises. I said that I will go through it, after all it's not so painful, not so sad, it could make life better. My first coach Alexander Ivanovich Apachinsky wanted me to grow up not just a boxer, but to grow up a man. He helped me doing that. He was a tough man, but if you look at life, at that energy of life, its pressure would simply eat you up. He taught me to go all the way, no matter what.

From 1989 to 1991, he became the champion of the Kazakh SSR three times in a row. In 1990 he became the champion of the All-Union Spartakiad of Young Students (4 fights, 4 victories, Moscow,) and also won the USSR Youth Championship (4 fights, 4 victories, Donetsk,) received a degree of Master of Sports of the USSR in boxing.

In 1991, Jirov, who was yet at the junior age class, didn't win the USSR Championship in Saratov (4 fights, 3 wins, 2nd place,) however he received an invitation to the USSR youth team.

In 1994, Vassiliy moved to the light heavyweight division (up to 81 kg.)

In December 1996, Jirov travelled to the United States, where he signed a contract with boxing promoter Bob Arum and began his career as a professional boxer.


Jirov was awarded the Val Barker Trophy for outstanding performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

He finished his amateur career having 217 fights under his belt, with a record of 207 wins, 10 losses (no stoppages.)

Professional career[edit]

Jirov made his debut as a professional on 18 January 1997, with a two-round knockout of Vince Brown in Las Vegas. He won eleven fights that first year, all by knockout, including wins over Exum Speight and Art Jimmerson. In 1998, he won eight fights, six before the final bell. On 5 May he won the WBC's regional cruiserweight title with a 12-round decision over Rich La Montaigne, who became the first boxer to last the full distance against Jirov. On 5 December he once again fought in Ukrainian territory. In his first fight as a professional in Ukraine, he beat Alexander Vasiliev in Kyiv by decision in eight rounds.

IBF cruiserweight champion[edit]

In 1999, Jirov was given his first world title try: In front of an HBO Boxing audience, he beat IBF world Cruiserweight champion Arthur Williams by a knockout in seven rounds at Biloxi, Mississippi, to become that organization's world cruiserweight champion.

For his first defense, he fought at the main supportive event at the Felix Trinidad-Oscar De La Hoya undercard on 18 September, retaining the crown with a ten-round knockout of Canadian Dale Brown.

In 2000, he beat Saul Montana by knockout in round nine to retain the world title on an Univision televised fight, and won two non-title bouts, including one over Esteban Pizarro at the Playboy mansion.

On 6 February 2001, Jirov went to Kazakhstan to defend his crown in his home-country for the first time. There, he retained the title with a first-round knockout of Álex González. He won three more fights that year, one a world title affair against Julian Letterlough (knockout win in 8).

In 2002 Jirov, then managed by the Sugar Ray Leonard promotion company, defended his crown once that year, beating former world Middleweight champion Jorge Castro of Argentina by a 12-round decision on 1 February at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. Talks had begun about a fight of his against former multiple division world champion James Toney. However, negotiations took long and Jirov spent more than one year outside the ring, time in which the IBF threatened to take away recognition of Jirov as world champion if he did not defend his crown soon. As a result of these managerial problems, Jirov also moved from the SAR club gym, favored by his management, to Joe Diaz's Gym, near Downtown Phoenix.

Losing the title to Toney[edit]

Jirov and Toney finally met on 26 April 2003, and Jirov suffered his first career defeat, when he lost the IBF cruiserweight title to Toney by a 12-round unanimous decision. On 9 August Jirov came back, beating fringe contender Ernest Mateen by knockout in seven rounds.

On 6 November 2003 he won the NABO regional cruiserweight title with a six-round knockout of Joseph Kiwanuka in Phoenix. Jirov's next fight was against ex-heavyweight champion, Michael Moorer. Jirov was beaten by Moorer via TKO in the ninth round. Over the next six months, Jirov defeated Forrest Neal by knockout in round 3 and defeated Troy Beats by unanimous decision. His next fight was against former heavyweight and cruiserweight contender Orlin Norris. Jirov and Norris fought to a draw.

In his first return bout to the cruiserweight division (April 20, 2006) he defeated Luke Munsen in a unanimous decision.

On 14 July 2007 Jirov defeated Kenny 'The Raven' Craven by TKO in second round of 10 round scheduled bout.

As a heavyweight, Jirov also lost to Joe Mesi by unanimous decision, after throwing a blow to Mesi that resulted in subdural bleeding near the fight's end. It also marked the downturn in Jirov's fighting career, and after a few more fights, he retired in 2009.

Post-fight career in boxing[edit]

Jirov lives in Arizona and works at the Scottsdale Boxing Club as a coach. Reflecting on his time as a fighter, Jirov said: “I travelled the world, got paid and kicked some ass.”[5]

Professional boxing record[edit]

42 fights 38 wins 3 losses
By knockout 32 1
By decision 6 2
Draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
42 Win 38–3–1 United States Jonathan Williams TKO 2 (10), 2:52 17 Oct 2009 United States Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, US
41 Win 37–3–1 United States Kenny Craven TKO 2 (10), 2:18 14 Jul 2007 United States 4 Bears Casino & Lodge, New Town, North Dakota, US
40 Win 36–3–1 United States Luke Munsen UD 10 20 Apr 2006 United States Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel, Worley, Idaho, US
39 Draw 35–3–1 United States Orlin Norris MD 8 21 Jul 2005 United States Palace Indian Gaming Center, Lemoore, California, US
38 Win 35–3 United States Troy Beets UD 10 14 May 2005 United States Coushatta Casino Resort, Kinder, Louisiana, US
37 Win 34–3 United States Forrest Neal TKO 3 (10), 1:10 7 Apr 2005 United States Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California, US
36 Loss 33–3 United States Michael Moorer TKO 9 (12), 2:08 9 Dec 2004 United States Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California, US For vacant WBA North American, WBA–NABA, and WBC Continental Americas heavyweight titles
35 Loss 33–2 United States Joe Mesi UD 10 13 Mar 2004 United States Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, US
34 Win 33–1 Uganda Joseph Kiwanuka RTD 6 (12), 3:00 6 Nov 2003 United States Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, US Won vacant WBONABO cruiserweight title
33 Win 32–1 United States Ernest Mateen TKO 7 (10), 1:09 7 Aug 2003 United States Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California, US
32 Loss 31–1 United States James Toney UD 12 26 Apr 2003 United States Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, US Lost IBF cruiserweight title
31 Win 31–0 Argentina Jorge Castro UD 12 1 Feb 2002 United States Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, US Retained IBF cruiserweight title
30 Win 30–0 United States Julian Letterlough TKO 8 (12), 1:24 8 Sep 2001 United States Lawlor Events Center, Reno, Nevada, US Retained IBF cruiserweight title
29 Win 29–0 United States Adolpho Washington UD 10 20 Jul 2001 United States Memorial Civic Center, Canton, Ohio, US
28 Win 28–0 United States Terry McGroom KO 1 (12), 1:22 24 Mar 2001 United States MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, US Retained IBF cruiserweight title
27 Win 27–0 Puerto Rico Alex Gonzales KO 1 (12), 1:35 6 Feb 2001 Kazakhstan Baluan Sholak Sports Palace, Almaty, Kazakhstan Retained IBF cruiserweight title
26 Win 26–0 United States Earl Butler TKO 2 (10), 2:35 29 Jul 2000 United States Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, Arizona, US
25 Win 25–0 Puerto Rico Esteban Pizzarro KO 2 (10), 2:59 19 May 2000 United States Playboy Mansion, Los Angeles, California, US
24 Win 24–0 United States Don Normand TKO 1 25 Mar 2000 United States Seven Feathers Casino Resort, Canyonville, Oregon, US
23 Win 23–0 Mexico Saúl Montana TKO 9 (12), 2:55 12 Feb 2000 United States Bank of America Centre, Boise, Idaho, US Retained IBF cruiserweight title
22 Win 22–0 Canada Dale Brown KO 10 (12), 2:52 18 Sep 1999 United States Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, US
21 Win 21–0 United States Arthur Williams TKO 7 (12), 1:59 5 Jun 1999 United States Grand Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi, US Won IBF cruiserweight title
20 Win 20–0 Ivory Coast Onebo Maxime KO 5 (12), 2:48 22 Apr 1999 United States Hilton Anatole, Dallas, Texas, US Won vacant WBC Continental Americas cruiserweight title
19 Win 19–0 Mexico Cesar Rendon KO 1 (8), 0:25 6 Mar 1999 United States Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, US
18 Win 18–0 Russia Alexander Vasiliev UD 8 5 Dec 1998 Ukraine Palace of Sports, Kyiv, Ukraine
17 Win 17–0 United States John Kiser TKO 8 (10), 0:43 3 Oct 1998 United States Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, US
16 Win 16–0 United States Cliff Nellon TKO 3 (8), 2:22 6 Aug 1998 United States Grand Casino Avoyelles, Marksville, Louisiana, US
15 Win 15–0 United States Rich LaMontagne UD 12 5 May 1998 United States Grand Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi, US Won vacant WBC International cruiserweight title
14 Win 14–0 United States Jason Waller TKO 1, 2:00 14 Mar 1998 United States Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
13 Win 13–0 United States Trent Surratt TKO 2 (8), 2:58 10 Feb 1998 United States Midnight Rodeo, Phoenix, Arizona, US
12 Win 12–0 United States Jason Nicholson TKO 2 (10), 2:37 23 Jan 1998 United States Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, US
11 Win 11–0 United States Art Jimmerson TKO 2 (10), 2:55 6 Dec 1997 United States Circus Maximus Showroom, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
10 Win 10–0 United States Quinton Osgood TKO 1 (8), 2:15 18 Oct 1997 United States Star of the Desert Arena, Primm, Nevada, US
9 Win 9–0 United States Calvin Combs TKO 2 (8), 1:17 12 Sep 1997 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, US
8 Win 8–0 United States Dennis Matthews TKO 4 (6), 1:47 5 Jul 1997 United States Isle of Capri Casino, Lake Charles, Louisiana, US
7 Win 7–0 Ethiopia Gesses Mesgana TKO 2 (8), 2:23 31 May 1997 United States Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
6 Win 6–0 United States Tyrone Armstead RTD 4 (6), 3:00 12 Apr 1997 United States Tropicana Las Vegas, Paradise, Nevada, US
5 Win 5–0 United States Calvin Smith TKO 1 (4) 30 Mar 1997 United States Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut, US
4 Win 4–0 United States Aljenon DeBose TKO 3 (6), 2:54 8 Mar 1997 United States Convention Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
3 Win 3–0 United States Chuck Miller TKO 4, 2:38 12 Feb 1997 United States The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, US
2 Win 2–0 United States Exum Speight TKO 3 (6), 2:00 28 Jan 1997 United States Club Rio, Tempe, Arizona, US
1 Win 1–0 United States Vincent Brown TKO 2 (6), 1:29 18 Jan 1997 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, US


  1. ^ a b HBO Sports tale of the tape prior to the James Toney fight.
  2. ^ a b Vasily Zhirov. sports-reference.com
  3. ^ Dicker, Ron (2003-04-24). "Plus: Boxing; Cruiserweight Tries to Make Name". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  4. ^ Dennen, John (2015-07-07). "Vassiliy Jirov looks back on fights with James Toney, Michael Moorer, his Olympic gold medal and more". Boxing News. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  5. ^ "Best I Faced: Vassiliy Jirov". Ring TV. 23 July 2018.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Regional boxing titles
Title last held by
Juan Carlos Gómez
WBC International
cruiserweight champion

5 May 1998 – 22 April 1999
Won Continental Americas title
Title next held by
Wayne Braithwaite
Title last held by
Elieser Castillo
WBC Continental Americas
cruiserweight champion

22 April 1999 – June 1999
Title next held by
Jason Robinson
Title last held by
Ravea Springs
cruiserweight champion

6 November 2003 – December 2003
Title next held by
Jermell Barnes
World boxing titles
Preceded by IBF cruiserweight champion
5 June 1999 – 26 April 2003
Succeeded by