Earlier today in Almaty fans had a special show from MTK to celebrate Kazakh Independence day. For the most part it was a successful day for the fighters from Central Asia, though their was one big upset.
Rather than breaking down the entire card, which had more than 10 bouts on it, we'll discuss some of the most notable bouts on the card.
Among the most notable of the fighters on the card was Victor Kotochigov (11-0, 4) [Виктор Коточигов], who extended his winning run with a 10 round shut out over Argentina's Javier Jose Clavero (27-6, 5), to defended the WBC International Lightweight title. This was Kotochigov's 4th win of the year, and whilst he's clearly a talented fighter his bouts do lack drama and he may end up being a tough man to man fans care about going forward.
In another title bout Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) [Султан Заурбек] became the new WBC Youth Super Featherweight champion as he stopped Chinese fighter Leshan Li (16-4-2, 9) [黎乐善].
Nurtas Azhbenov (8-0, 3) [Нуртас Ажбенов], a man that has shared a lot of cards with Zaurbek, picked up a decision win over Filipino journeyman Landy Cris Leon (13-21-5, 6). Given Leon has been stopped 12 times the worry is that Azhbenov really does lack power, and if we're being honest he hasn't looked the star in the making that Zaurbek has.
The big shock of the night saw Iskander Kharsan (7-1, 6) [Искандер Харсан] suffer his first loss. The touted youngster was dropped twice in the opening round before being stopped in round 3 by British based Cameroonian Thomas Essomba (10-5, 4). Although this may not have looked like an easy win for Kharsan on paper Essomba has made a reputation for himself due to scoring upsets and this is the third "0" he has taken after previously upsetting Waleed Din and Sean McGoldrick.
Others who picked up wins included Elshat Nigmetolla (16-0-1, 5) [Ельшат Нигметолла], Abay Tolesh (5-0, 3) [Абай Толеш], Ray Seitzhanov (2-0) [Рай Сейтжанов], Miras-Ali Sarsenov (2-0, 1) [Мирас-Али Сарсенов] and Nurdos Tolebay (2-0, 1) [Нурдос Толебай], 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (8-1, 5) [Фазлиддин Гаибназаров] and fellow former amateur standout Khurshid Tojibaev (4-0, 2)
Last week we reported that 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4) [Фазлиддин Гаибназаров], from Uzbekistan, would be taking part on the upcoming Kazakh Independence show on December 16th.
At the time it was unclear who the once beaten Uzbek would be up against but today we were informed of his scheduled opponent, and whilst it's not an amazing match up it's certainly a more interesting one than we were expecting, given that these MTK shows tend to be mismatches.
The opponent for the once beaten Uzbek will be Argentinian veteran Mauro Maximiliano Godoy (32-5-1, 17).
Godoy was once regarded as a fringe contender, and was 29-1 (15) just a few years ago. Sadly though he has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 bouts. Despite that form from Godoy he should still be a decent test for Gaibnazarov, who has failed to impress since making his professional debut back in 2017.
At the moment we've yet to see other opponents being named for the fighters on the card, including former world champion Hekkie Budler (32-4, 10) and unbeaten prospects like Victor Kotochigov (10-0,4) [Виктор Коточигов] and Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6) [Искандер Харсан].
(Image courtesy of Olamsport)
On December 16th MTK Kazakhstan will be hosting a special show to celebrate the Kazakh independence day. Originally no fighters were named, and then a lot of fighters were named, pretty much all at once, with a host of interesting and notable names being featured on the card.
The biggest name on the card is not an Asian but instead South African fighter Hekkie Budler (32-4, 10), who is a 2-weight world champion and a bizarre choice to be the the center piece of the poster. A poster that we imagined would be sold hard on the Kazakh fighters. Budler is a solid name, just surprising he it literally the center piece of the poster.
As far as local talent the show is packed with Kazakh hopefuls. This includes Victor Kotochigov (10-0,4) [Виктор Коточигов], Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6) [Искандер Харсан], Sultan Zaurbek (8-0, 6) [Султан Заурбек], Nurtas Azhbenov (7-0, 3) [Нуртас Ажбенов], Elshat Nigmetolla (15-0-1, 5) [Ельшат Нигметолла], Abay Tolesh (4-0, 3) [Абай Толеш], Ray Seitzhanov (1-0) [Рай Сейтжанов], Miras-Ali Sarsenov (1-0, 1) [Мирас-Али Сарсенов] and Nurdos Tolebay (1-0) [Нурдос Толебай]. Whilst their opponents haven't been named this is a pretty strong line up of local prospects, with fighters like Kharsan, Zaurbek and Sarsenov being tipped for major success over the coming years, following strong amateur pedigrees.
As well as the Budler and the Kazakh talent others confirmed for the card include 2016 Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4) [Фазлиддин Гаибназаров], from Uzbekistan, and unbeaten Nigerian Ali Lasisi (Nigeria, 13-0, 8).
Although no bouts have been announced their is a lot of talent already set for this show, and fingers crossed some of the fighters involved will be matched competitively. Sadly though we don't often see many interesting match ups on these MTK shows, despite how talent laden they are.
Last night we saw 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4) [Фазлиддин Ғоибназаров] suffer his first loss as a professional, coming up short against awkward American Mykal Fox (20-1, 5) in a 10 round bout at the Convention Center in Tucson.
The Uzbek, who was facing his biggest opponent to date, seemed to have real problems with the reach and size of Fox, who is a freakish fighter in and around the Light Welterweight division, especially in the later stages.
Despite the size issues Gaibnazarov did start well, having success in the early going and rocked Fox in round 2. He continued to press the action in the early rounds and although he never managed to hurt Fox again he looked in the ascendancy, getting inside and working away. That all came to screeching halt in round 4, when he began to get frustrated at being unable to shake his opponent for a second time, and in round 6 he was deducted a point for holding. The following round another point was taken for the same thing as referee Tony Zaino was on his case for everything.
That referee's actions had a major impact on both men. It boosted Fox's confidence and also further destroyed the rhythm of the Uzbek who looked unable to get much going in the later rounds.
The point deductions and surge from Fox proved to be too much, with Gaibnazarov losing 96-92, twice, and 95-93.
This is a massive setback for the Olympic champion whilst Fox bounces back from his first defeat, a loss to Gaibnazarov's fellow Uzbek Shohjahon Ergashev.
Later today Uzbek fighter Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-0, 4) [Фазлиддин Ғоибназаров] takes on his biggest test since turning professional, as he battles once beaten American Mykal Fox (19-1, 5).
Yesterday the two men took part in their weigh in, and the fighters look several weight classes apart, with the tall and slender Fox towering over the unbeaten Uzbek hopeful. In fact their was there 9" in height difference between the two men, who really have got polar opposite frames.
Gaibnazarov, who won a gold at the 2016 Olympics, 141.8lbs at the weigh in yesterday, whilst Fox was only slightly heavier, at 142lbs.
The bout, which has been contracted above the Light Welterweight limit, it expected to be a really serious test for Gaibnazarov, who will be fully aware that countryman Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14) [Шохжахон Эргашев] really struggled with Fox earlier this year. Fox, although not an elite amateur like Gaibnazarov was, has proven to be a very talented youngster and could be a real banana skin here for the 2016 Olympic champion.
(Image courtesy of Mikey Williams / Top Rank)
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