It’s been a strange week for Olympic bronze medallist, Artem Harutyunyan (9-0, 6 KOs).
At time of writing, he’s expecting to face his third opponent of the week, thanks to issues with flights out of Nicaragua (opponent number one) and COVID complications (the Argentinian who’d expected to fill in). Boxing in the modern era is beset with different obstacles – but quality always prevails.
In Hamburg this evening, the Armenian dubbed ‘The Original’ will throw himself into double figures as a professional, adapting to change and focusing on delivering another impressive performance. Boxing is in his blood, and as a veteran of over 200 amateur fights, he recalled his introduction to combat sport when speaking to Boxing Social.
“My father, Aram Harutyunyan, was a karate trainer in Armenia and had his own karate school. Martial arts are in my blood; I grew up learning martial arts. I remember that on my first visit to the boxing hall, it was very noisy. The adult boxers hit sandbags and were sparring. I was enthusiastic from the start, and I had a lot of fun. The most important thing in sport is to have fun. But even as a child, I was an ambitious fighter.
Originally from Yerevan, the Armenian capital, Harutyunyan recalled early life with his family, after being uprooted during difficult, dangerous circumstances: “I was born in Armenia and enjoyed a loving, warm upbringing. I am very grateful to my parents for always being there for me and my brother, Robert. My family and family members had to leave home [in Armenia], and we fled to Germany.
That cohesion gives us strength to master every difficulty. Your family is like the team in boxing; we support each other. So, together we are stronger. There are good and bad moments in life, but it’s important to overcome the problems as quickly as possible and move on. I am grateful that my family is by my side.”
Speaking to Boxing Social through Universum Boxing’s Flavio Orteaga, the veteran of the unpaid ranks continued detailing the early stages of his career. Naturally talented, with the dogged, determined mentality required to succeed, Harutyunyan is now prepared to launch an assault on the 140lbs division.
That landscape is currently dominated by Mexican American Jose Ramirez and Scotland’s Josh Taylor, with an undisputed fight set for May 22nd. The Armenian knows he’s a fair distance from the top of the pile; but he believes he has the skillset to trouble either champion: “There are excellent boxers and excellent world champions in every weight class. I made a conscious decision to change the weight class and fight [at super] lightweight. It makes me feel faster, stronger, and more motivated to achieve new goals. My goal is to rise in the rankings to box for the world championship as soon as possible.
“This 10th professional boxing match is very important to me. I want to fight regularly and become world champion here, too. The upcoming fight a test for me; I have strong opponents who I shouldn’t underestimate. I haven’t fought for over a year and can’t wait to get back in the ring. I broke my left hand twice and had to take a long break because of it. I actively used the time in which I was constantly training; I have prepared myself mentally and physically for the tasks ahead. The long break was good for my body – I feel stronger than ever.”
Harutyunyan was impressive in Rio, beating Movladdin Biyarslanov and Batyr Akhmedov, and added a win over Britain’s Luke McCormack before turning professional, but his progress has been slower than most of his peers. His bronze medal was earned almost five years ago and since then, he hasn’t quite climbed the rankings in headline-grabbing fashion. His work in Hamburg with Universum should see him fighting regularly, but there will be questions surrounding the quality of his opponents moving forward. At 30-years old, what is the plan?
“I have set myself a big goal in professional boxing,” states ‘The Original.’ “I want to become world champion and show the world that you can achieve anything if you believe in yourself. To achieve that goal, I must fight in America; I’m looking forward to my first visit to America.
“The next year will be very exciting for me. Universum Boxing has a big name nationally and internationally. If a team can make it to the top, it’s Universum Boxing with me. The director and I are very harmonious, we get along very well. We have a great future ahead of us – I know it.”
Three years into his professional career and three opponents into fight week, Artem Harutyunyan is set to take another step in the right direction. He needs big fights – which involves finding some willing dance partners or travelling for opportunities in the away corner. The Armenian knows how to adapt, though; his family fled from Yerevan to Hamburg and started over, instilling serious resilience in both Artem and his brother, Robert.
Now, looking to gain some momentum, he will take to the ring in search of a 10th victory, armed with a message for those who may have lost interest or wondered where he’s ended up: “The boxing fans should know that I never pretend. The way you see me, that’s how I am. I want my name to be known all over the world. Artem Harutyunyan exists only once in the world. I am the original. Authentic. That’s why they call me ‘The Original.’
“One thing is very clear: in boxing, you don’t get anything for free. If you want to achieve something, you must fight for it. Nobody believed in me. Many thought that I was just a simple boy from Hamburg. Through hard work and discipline, I have shown everyone and myself that you can achieve anything if you believe in yourself and train hard for it. I became national champion five times; I won the World Championship, and at the Olympic Games in Rio, I got the first boxing medal for Germany in 12 years. This experience is just indescribable.”