Chris Kongo Relishing The Puzzle Of Florian Marku Now That His ‘Mind Is Right’

Chris Kongo and Florian Marku haven’t exactly been on the best of terms since they had an altercation during a press conference last summer.

The welterweights have the chance to settle their differences on March 31 in an attractive fight on the undercard of the British and Commonwealth heavyweight title fight between Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke.

With a fight to promote, Kongo (14-2, 7 KOs) and Marku (13-0-1, 8 KOs) did the rounds, appearing on television shows, podcasts and radio shows together but modern fight promotion dictates that the two can’t turn their backs on each other completely until the last pre-fight promo is in the can. caught up with Kongo when his final afternoon of filming with Marku wound down.

“He’s been very respectful,” Kongo, 31, said. “Obviously, he knows he’s in a massive fight. This is his toughest test to date and he knows he’s in the presence of somebody who’s great. He knows he’s going to have to dig deep and if he wants to press hard then he’s in for a hard night’s work.

“My energy is strong. He can feel that and that’s why he’s like this. He doesn’t normally act like this. Look at his other interviews. He’s always pushing and shoving people. He can’t do that with me. I’m not gonna do that to me. A push is nothing. When he gets in the ring with me he’s going to see. I’m a lot smarter than to get drawn into his game. I’m sure he knows that but he has to find his way around the ring.”

The fiery Marku is undoubtedly entertaining but 14 fights into his career he is still a difficult fighter to evaluate fully. He has been inconsistent. He can look outstanding – as he did when stopping Dylan Moran inside a minute last September – or ordinary, which was the case when he struggled past the little-known Migual Parra in his previous fight. 

Is the Albanian a heavy-handed fighter who has reached this level through force of personality or is he a slightly underrated box-fighter? Is Kongo facing a difficult and dangerous night’s work or is Marku a high-profile, beatable opponent?

For his part, Kongo has absolutely no difficulty weighing up the challenge he has on his hands.

“Oh, defo what you said the second time around [that Marku is beatable],” he said. “I believe that’s what it is and that’s what it will be on March 31. I believe I come out victorious regardless. I will be on my game.”

Kongo is a slick, talented fighter with considerable ability but he has come up just short in his two biggest fights. In 2021 he struggled to solve the puzzles the tricky Michael McKinson set him and 12 months ago he was out-hustled by the relentless Ekow Essuman in a bid for the British and Commonwealth titles.

The Londoner didn’t go back to the drawing board after the loss to Essuman. He has just carried the lessons he learned that night into this training camp. Kongo has always had the skills; now he knows exactly how to implement them, and he also believes that his ability to stay calm in the furnace will play a significant part in ensuring he emerges victorious.

“The main thing I’ve taken away from that fight with Ekow is experience,” he said. “I’ve been saying it for a while. I win this fight [with Marku] via experience but I also win by my skill set and just knowing what I’m doing. I’m not doing things just to do it anymore. I’m doing things with a purpose.

“We’ve all seen the Ekow fight and I was doing things with a purpose. Those first couple of rounds was a breeze. I know where I went wrong and we’ve corrected it. Going into this fight, I think Ekow and him have similar styles but Ekow brings a lot more pressure and is a lot smarter than he is.

“I’ve been on the big stages now. He’s boxed on big stages but we’ve all seen that his temperament is very short. He puts his hands down and shouts people on. You haven’t seen me do that. I believe that this fight is mine for the taking. 

“My mind is right. Training is going well. Sparring is going well. Everything’s going well. I just can’t wait for it now.”

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