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Chagaev too much for Sheppard
March 22, 2013 - Jay Bennett
A hot start by Wirt County's Mike Sheppard in his Friday night fight against Uzbekistan's Ruslan Chagaev might've been the worst thing that could've happened inside Universal Hall in Berlin, Germany.
Chagaev, the former WBA heavyweight champion, got stung by a Sheppard punch early in the first round, but the Glenville State College graduate ended up losing via TKO later in the opening round.
"I got a little over zealous," Sheppard said late Friday evening from Germany. "He came out real aggressive and I rocked him about halfway through the first with a right hand. I went against my gameplan and quit boxing and got a little too aggressive. The next thing I knew he dropped me with an uppercut.
"They stopped the fight late in the first round. I'm not going to say the ref shouldn't have stopped it. Had he not I probably would've got drilled worse. I got back up to my feet (before the 8 count). I do remember him hitting me with a good body shot in my liver that got my attention."
Despite the loss, Sheppard said he was glad to get the opportunity to go against the No. 3 WBA and No. 6 IBF world heavyweight contender.
While Sheppard knows he should've stuck to his gameplan, sometimes it's hard in the heat of the battle to remain entirely focused.
"I came out and was real careful," Sheppard added. "I hit him with some jabs and it was a straight right jab that got his attention and he started immediately backing up and had a funny look in his eye.
"I just got a little careless, and them guys, they are killers. That's all they do. I did my best. I was cracking him. I think I surprised him. You should have seen the look in his eyes."
Sheppard will spend Saturday in Germany before flying back across the Atlantic Ocean and returning to his teaching job on Monday.
"It's really hard to compete with these guys," he said. "That's all they do and I have to go to work all day. I've been all over the world doing this stuff and wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was a great experience. Who gets to do this stuff from our area? I'm fine. He had me fuzzed up a little bit.
"I rocked him, but he probably thought I couldn't hurt him. I'm sure people will be on my butt more to retire. I'm no spring chicken. I'm going to make the most of it. The clock is ticking and my days are numbered, but this won't be my last one. It is what it is. He didn't win a world championship for nothing."
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