Tyjani Beztati, also known as The Wonderboy, will defend his lightweight kickboxing title for the first time this Saturday, May 14. The obstacle he has to overcome is the Canadian Josh Jauncey. Both fighters have faced each other before in 2019. Beztati claimed victory and won according to unanimous decision. Beztati fought his last match in September when he faced Elvin Gashi, who he beat after some difficulties in the first round. What remained were the belt and the championship for Beztati which he accepted wholeheartedly.
The championship came at a special time. After a turbulent time in which his mother had to deal with breast cancer and at the same time that Beztati won his title, she completed her last chemotherapy. A shared victory with enough symbolism for sure.
Since then it has been almost seven long months until Beztati could get back into the ring and now the week has finally arrived. It is clear that the kickboxer has drawn a lot of confidence from his latest victories and therefore also faces the fight of next Saturday with a lot of confidence.
Warrior Code was lucky that Beztati had been given a few days off by his trainer and thus had a moment to talk to us and look forward and back on a number of things. Including his opponent.
Beztati, good to speak to you. To start at the beginning, how do you look back on your preparation?
"No different than normal. I tried to approach this match in exactly the same way as I always have. For him [Jauncey] it's a rematch and for me it's about continuing the current winning streak.
I must honestly say that the preparation has been super long. My last fight was in September, so it's also a bit unreal that I'm almost back in the ring now. That's for several reasons but I'm so happy that I can finally do what I love to do again.
The training went well and I have been able to improve myself steadily. So well prepared that I even got a few days off from my trainer. I would say myself: I'm super ready."
Has it also been difficult to maintain focus when the preparation is spread over so many months?
"I can't say that one, two, three like that. I have a super good team around me with top training partners, super trainers and so on, and they just help you stay motivated. On top of that, I still like to go to the gym every time and continue to challenge and improve myself."
Can you tell us a bit more about what your training schedule has looked like over the past 2-3 months? How was your "camp"?
"Six days a week at least in the gym, sometimes two-three times a day. It's hard but you know what you're doing it for."
What are you going to win your fight on this week? Endurance or a KO?
"My focus is on getting the win and how that happens honestly doesn't really matter to me. I understand that the audience wants to see a KO because that's the most exciting thing to see happen but you can't and shouldn't force it. If the stars are in the right position, so to speak, then the KO will come naturally. If you try to enforce it, you fight forcibly, not freely, and nothing comes of it.
I look at myself and just know that I'm better than my opponent next Saturday in every way, both conditionally and technically. You could also see this clearly in my last game, not for a moment was I actually out of breath and I could have taken a second game behind it, so to speak. As long as I keep my head down and keep playing my own game, I should be able to go for the win on Saturday without threat."
Now about your opponent, Josh Jauncey. Although he enters the ring on Saturday with two wins behind him, at the same time he has not been in the ring since 2019. Do you think it's right that he now gets another chance to fight for the title?
Let me first state that he can fight for the title as often as he wants, but he is certainly not going to take it away from me. That said, I do think that, with his recent track record, he has the right to take on me again. I also have to say that really only Jauncey and Elvis Gashi are the only ones at the moment who might come a little bit close to me because I leave the rest of the competition even further behind me.
Are you very focused on the competition?
"Of course you all know each other, but I try very much to keep the focus on myself and not to be distracted too much by what other people are doing. In the end it doesn't matter who the competition is, as a champion you have to be able to win from everyone."
The fact that you don't see much competition for yourself in the current class anymore, do you see yourself coming out in another weight class at some point?
"Never say never, but right now that's not the focus. I want to keep defending the title for the time being and after that we'll see."
Let's go back to your previous game with Jauncey. Of course you won it, but we have all seen the images of your opponent leaving the ring protesting. You immediately had a witty answer to that because "people always find something new to complain about". How do you look back on that moment?
"I would actually sum it up like this: winners focus on winning and losers focus on winners. Jauncey can say whatever he wants, of course, but as I have indicated in previous interviews, he suffers a bit from delusions of grandeur."
Can you relate to his frustration?
"Look, I just obviously won that first game. The first two rounds went to me, he won maybe the third. But, to explain this in football terms, even though he came close, he still lost 2-1 if you pay attention to the number of rounds. That means that you have still lost. And the fact that he's protesting, I just have to point out that it was a UD (unanimous decision). If you're a real sportsman, a real grown man (and he's a lot older than me), then I think "take your loss as a man and be humble in defeat". Take your loss like one man, head up and on to the next. He may well challenge me on social media and poke fun at me, but the fact that he has been so stuck in his loss is telling about his mentality."
Do you also think, he is so busy with me, is he maybe a fan of Tyjani?
"Haha, who knows!"
Enough about your opponent and last question. Can you take us into what your last days before the fight look like now?
"I'm really trying to take it easy now. The work is done and now just quietly working towards Saturday. Keep paying attention to my weight but for the rest I try to be relaxed. Good to take a rest and wait until it's finally time to get back into that ring."