Ahmed Elbiali defeated Andrew Hernandez via unanimous decision on January 12 of last year and hasn’t returned to the ring since. The reason, he injured his hand in the first round so badly that it required surgery to heal properly. However, the hand didn’t heal properly and a malunion caused it to fracture, again. This was a major setback because shortly before fracturing his hand for a second time, he moved to Las Vegas to train with legendary trainer, Eddie Mustafa. Elbiali said, “I was at Mayweather’s gym . . . I re-broke it there. I flew back to Miami, had surgery, then three weeks after surgery they found out I’m allergic to titanium, so I had to have surgery, again. They pulled out the steel rods in July, I got fully cleared in November, and here I am now with a fight date.” His stay in Las Vegas was short but he made the most of it by getting in the ring with some top contenders and prospects. “I sparred J’Leon, I sparred Ronald Gavril, and a couple of other guys. I think Lionell Thompson. Honestly, I only got to spar there for about six weeks until I broke my hand and moved back.” Now Elbiali has hit the reset button and he’s back in Miami with his old trainer, Carlos Albuerne, getting ready for his date on the Wilder-Washington undercard in Birmingham, Alabama.
HOW WAS IT TRAINING WITH EDDIE MUSTAFA IN LAS VEGAS?
Eddie is a great coach . . . very smart guy. Teaches you patience and makes you work off the jab. I learned a lot of things from him . . . but it was hard. I was pretty much unemployed and wasting my savings on a move. I was new to the city and I tried to find jobs on the sided but the problem was once I got a good contract I dedicated my life to boxing. That’s all I’ve been doing since I turned pro, I haven’t worked or anything like that. It was just a rough year. Once you get injured in boxing, you’re unemployed, you’re left in the dirt.
DO YOU HAVE A JOB NOW?
I was good with my money. I saved my money. But it sucks when you’re just using your savings, just blowing your money . . . you look at your bank account and it’s just going away. But I coach speed and agility for kids here and there. That’s why I came back . . . I just know more people in Miami.
ARE YOU GETTING READY FOR THIS NEXT FIGHT IN MIAMI?
I’ve been getting ready in Miami.
SO, HOW’S THE HAND FEELING NOW?
I forget about it. I think that’s one reason why I broke it the first time because I was just super, not reckless, but I completely forgot that I broke my hand. I swing it like I never broke it and there’s no pain so thank goodness.
I’m not looking past anybody, but this fight is just to get back in the rhythm of things.
WERE YOU ABLE TO STAY SHARP AND IN SHAPE WITH A HAND INJURY?
I stayed coming to the gym five days a week or four days instead of all six. I did my roadwork, I did my conditioning, focused on legs and lower body strength. I never want to break my hand again but it would have been more beneficial if it was my right hand that got hurt, that way I could focus on using my lead hand. But I still did the same thing. I’d show up to the doctor . . . and I’d have to change my cast every week and a half. They usually change casts every month. I would ruin my casts by sweating and working out when I wasn’t supposed to. It’s hard to keep an athlete outside of his profession, it’s all I knew.
WAS YOUR WEIGHT AN ISSUE AT ALL?
I gained five or six pounds of just muscle fat but I’m not one of those fighters. Right now I’m back to normal now maybe even a little skinnier.
HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO GET A DATE SO FAST AFTER BEING OUT FOR SO LONG?
I’d have to thank my two managers and advisers, Al Haymon and Luis de Cuba Jr., they take care of me and I’m super blessed to have them. They see something with me and they’re following the movement.
NOT EVERYONE HAS THAT LEVEL OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE FROM THEIR TEAM, WHAT’S THAT LIKE?
I used to sit by myself and be like, ‘hey can I really do this? Am I good?’ Then I realize, dude, you have everything. You have things people wish they had, so, I’m in a very blessed position. I worked for it 100%, but it’s also a blessing. Boxing is a tough sport and when you’re taken care of it helps out a ton load. Nothing is for sure but it helps make it for sure, if that makes sense.
I’m still a prospect . . . we don’t make too much moola in the beginning.
ARE YOU COMING BACK AT 175 OR ARE YOU CHANGING ANYTHING?
I’m gonna make this weight. I think I’ve lost a lot of weight, so, I’m gonna see how easy this cut is and then go from there. This is obviously a comeback fight for me . . . I’m not looking past anybody, but this fight is just to get back in the rhythm of things. That’s my main focus. Win this fight, look good, get my mojo back. The weigh-in is also a process, the weight cut is also a process . . . and I’ve gotten older a year without fighting so I have to see how my body has changed. There’s pros and cons to it so I’m gonna see what’s up and from there I’m gonna make a decision.
THE LAST TIME WE SPOKE YOU MENTIONED GOING DOWN TO 168, IS THAT STILL A POSSIBILITY?
If this weight cut is super easy for me, which usually all of them are, then yeah, I’ll start talking to my coach about 68, then my manager. Then we’ll start having catch fights at 72, then 71, then 70, and we’ll go from there.
I KNOW YOU’RE BACK WITH YOUR OLD TRAINER NOW IN MIAMI, BUT WOULD YOU CONSIDER GOING BACK TO VEGAS?
Would I consider moving back to Vegas? Absolutely! Vegas in the winter and Big Bear in the summer. Vegas is a great boxing city. You’ve got the mountains there for the weekends, or you can drive there every day and run on the mountain. You’ve got sparring, good gyms, you have everything you need. A lot of the coaches there are more able to work as a team. A lot of coaches don’t like assistant coaches and they don’t like anybody to help out. It feels like Vegas is a boxing city where these trainers have seen so many fighters and trainers, they’re easy to adapt to.
WAS CARLOS ALBUERNE OKAY WITH YOU GOING TO VEGAS AND WORKING WITH OTHER TRAINERS?
He knew that I was going to Vegas, not necessarily to change coaches, but to experience things and to get away from Miami. Just to grow and see what life is like outside of here. He’s good friends with Eddie Mustafa. There was no animosity about it.
Elbiali is one of the top up-and-coming fighters in the sport, but with Al Haymon behind him, it won’t be long before he achieves contender status and earns an opportunity to fight for a title. “I’m still a prospect . . . we don’t make too much moola in the beginning. We’re kind of dried out. It’s not like other professional sports where they get these fat contracts, ya know? We’re just glad to be with a good manager or promoter, that’s it,” Elbiali proclaims. As long as he keeps winning, the fights will get bigger and so will the paydays.
For more on Ahmed Elbiali, follow him on Twitter at @Elbialii