According to sources in Uzbekistan we'll see 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (5-0, 2) [Фазлиддин Ғоибназаров] return to the ring on October 20th in Las Vegas.
Not only have the Kazakh sources reported when and where the bout will be, but also the opponent for the talented Uzbek fighter. That will be Wilberth Lopez (23-9, 15), a tough American based Mexican born fighter who has take good prospects the distance.
The Uzbek hopeful signed with Top Rank, who will be promoting the October 20th card, following his Olympics success. Since turning professional he has failed to set the world on fire whilst transitioning from the amateur style to the professional style. He was was put down within seconds of his debut but he has shown improvements since. This is however a huge step up in class and a chance for 27 year old to show what he's really made of, and show just how much he has improved.
As for Lopez he's a 23 year old southpaw who made his debut back in 2013 and has been a matched with prospects though his career. He scored a notable 2014 win over Leon Spinks III, took Isaac Dogboe the 6 round distance, lasted the 10 round schedule with Ivan Baranchyk and also heard the belt against Kazakh prospect Batyrzhan Jukembayev. He's somewhat limited but very tough and should pose a number of questions for the Uzbek.
This bout will be on the under-card of the WBA "regular" Middleweight title bout between Ryota Murata (14-1, 11) [村田 諒太] and Rob Brant (23-1, 16). It's unclear whether ESPN+ in the US will air this under-card bout or not, though we do hope that they will.
(Image courtesy of olamsport.com)
At the 2016 Rio games Uzbekistan were the most successful team, claiming a total of 7 medals. Whilst it was a great success story for the team it was a disappointment for professional fight fans as Uzbek's rare turn professional and it looked like a lot of talent was going to be left outside of the professional ranks.
Earlier tonight however we saw the professional debut of one of those gold medal winning Uzbeks, Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (1-0, 1), the Olymipic champion at the 64KG Light Welterweight division and the man who had also claimed a Silver medal at the World and Asian Championships in 2015.
On debut the talented Uzbek was up against little known American Victor Vazquez (7-3, 3) in what seemed like a straight forward bout on pape for such an accomplished amateur star.
Instead of being straight forward that were a surprise early in the bout as Gaibnazarov was dropped in the opening seconds of the contest. A huge surprised to all including the Uzbek. Despite the knockdown the 25 year old didn't look hurt, more embarassed and it showed as he decided to use his skills and went on to work his into the bout during the rest of the round, actually relying on what had made him such a great fight in unpaid ranks.
The Uzbeks' success continued in round 2 as he began to take over, before dropping Vazquez, who struggled to his feet but was stopped as he rose to his feet.
Although a lot will be made of Gaibnazarov being dropped on his debut, more should be made of his ability to recover and stay calm, something he did before stoppign Vazquez. He showed enough to be excited about, but there is certainly a lot more that needs to be seen before people get too excited in the man from Bekabad.
The demise of American promoter Top Rank Promotions has long been rumoured, with a number of their top fighters leaving or aging in recent years. The promotional veterans however are known for attracting top talent and have managed to have a great raid following the 2016 Olympics, signing 9 fighters from the games. The latest of those was 25 year old Uzbek star Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, who was publically announced as a Top Rank fighter over the last day or so.
The talented southpaw has signed a management deal with Egis Klimas, who also manages the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko, and and will be looking to build on an excellent amateur career.
In the unpaid ranks Gaibnazarov won the 2016 Light Welterweight gold medal, adding it to silver medals from both the 2015 World Championships and Asian Championships, among other smaller tournaments. He entered the Olympics as "one to watch" but proved to be more than just "one to watch", claiming gold with wins over Dival Malonga, Manoj Kumar, Gary Antuanne Russell, Vitaly Dunaytsev and Lorenzo Sotomayor Collazo.
His debut hasn't yet been announced but the speculation is that it will be in an 8 rounder and could be against a "name" opponent, with Top Rank likely to fast track him and Klimas likely to push his newest fighter hard.
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