SOUTHWEST GLENDALE — Just a day prior to weigh-ins for his next bout, Art Hovhannesyan zips up a sauna suit and takes off on a treadmill at the Glendale Fighting Club.
Perhaps symbolically, he faces a broad and clear window as he runs in place toward the great wide open.
Having garnered a reputation among hardcore and local boxing fans as a burgeoning prospect, the Glendale boxer known as “Lionheart” has thrilled many with his brawling, bullish style and impressed just as many with his progress and maturation in becoming a more polished boxer.
But Hovhannesyan’s career on the rise has suffered through a fair share of injuries that have forced him to pull out of bout opportunities or prevented him from taking them on.
But now, Hovhannesyan proclaims that he is back, healthy and ready to go, as he’s set to face Christian Favela in an eight-round lightweight bout on Saturday night at Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage as part of the undercard for an HBO “Boxing After Dark” promotion.
“I’m 100% ready and happy,” said Hovhannesyan (11-0-1, 6 KOs).
The 28-year-old will look to win his ninth straight fight overall and his fourth in a row by knockout.
While Hovhannesyan will go in as an overwhelming favorite, being able to pull off a knockout win might be another story.
Favela (19-27-6, 10 KOs) hardly holds an impressive record, but he’s been nearly impossible to stop and has fought a laundry list of unblemished prospects.
He’s gone 2-2 over his last four fights, but is just 2-10 over his last 12. Still, all of them have been decision losses and seven of those losses came to fighters with unbeaten records.
Nevertheless, a knockout is what Hovhannesyan and his team are aiming to accomplish.
“That’s what we’re going for,” said Hovhannesyan’s manager and cutman, George Bastrmajyan, who is quick to admit that though the fight is untelevised, there will be plenty of the right people to impress at the HBO card, which will be main-evented by Timothy Bradley (25-0, 11 KOs) and Carlos Abregu (29-0, 23 KOs).
Having recently been signed to fight under the umbrella of both Banner Promotions and Gary Shaw Productions, Hovhannesyan appears headed in the right direction.
His biggest obstacle thus far has been the aforementioned injuries.
His last bout came in March, also at Agua Caliente, in which he defeated Hensley Strachan via fifth-round technical knockout. Since then, though, he was forced to pull out of at least one proposed fight in St. Louis due to a broken knuckle.
When asked to run down an inventory of Hovhannesyan’s past injuries, Bastrmajyan and trainer Edmond Tarverdyan have a long list that includes a busted chin, his hand, a thumb, a back injury, a hip injury, an ankle injury and a cut sustained while sparring with Manny Pacquiao.
Much of his injury history is attributed to his slugging style even in sparring and workouts.
“He’s a hard-working athlete and he’s strong, he goes all out,” said Tarverdyan, adding that one of the areas in which they are seeking improvement is Hovhannesyan’s accuracy, as punches to the forehead in sparring have resulted in injury.
“We just cross our fingers,” said Bastrmajyan of when Hovhannesyan trains.
Favela is actually the third opponent Hovhannesyan was scheduled to face with original opponent Walter Estrada and his replacement Jose Alfredo Lugo, who Hovhannesyan had already defeated previously, falling through for reasons unknown by the GFC camp.
“That doesn’t matter to me,” Hovhannesyan said in regards to his opponents changing.
For Hovhannesyan, all that seems to matter is Saturday, getting back in the ring, charging forward through Favela and into a promising future.
“Hopefully it works out by the end of the year we can fight for a small title,” Tarverdyan said.