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.
The Kazakh boxing scene has been rather quiet recently, with more focus on Gennady Golovkin's future TV deal and fighters planning returns from injury than any actual fights being announced. Earlier today however trainer Sagatbek Musakhanov confirmed that 3 of his hopefuls would be back in the ring on April 20th in Austin, Texas.
The most notable of those prospects is Iskander Kharsan (5-0, 4) [Искандер Харсан], a 21 year old Super Bantamweight who won the WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Bantamweight title last year. The only thing confirmed about his bout is that it will be an 8 round contest. He will be joined by hard punching pair Askat Zhantursynov (3-0, 3) [Аскату Жантурсынову] and Dias Tastemirov (3-0, 3) [Диасу Тастемирову], though no details about their bouts have been confirmed at all.
Musakhanov revealed that the opponents will be confirmed shortly, though if we're being honest none of them will be facing anyone too testing, instead looking to improve their records as they develop their skills, and move towards bigger bouts at the end of the year.
It's worth noting that the trainer also works with Zhankosh Turarov (22-0, 15) [Жанкош Тураров], and he too is now expected to return to the ring in April, though there are no concrete plans and he is just talking to various promoters and will weigh up his options.
This past weekend unbeaten Kazakh prospect Iskander Kharsan (5-0, 4) [Искандер Харсан] claimed his first title, the WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Bantamweight title. Today his trainer Sagatbek Musakhanov spoke to the Kazakh press and reported that their plan for 2019 was a big step up in class, with the hope being to fight a top 10 ranked fighter by the end of the year.
Musakhanov revealed that Kharsan's recent fight, a clear decision win over Jorge Ramos Jr, was a tough one due to Ramos' style and experience. The win however was a tough one for the Kazakh youngster, who apparently lacks in terms of amateur experience and took to the sport at a later age than many.
The plan for the new year is to work on the flaws that Kharsan showed in his recent bout, the hope is that he will improve to the point where he can fight with top 10 ranked fighters by the end of the year.
The 21 year old Kazakh made his debut in July 2017 and quickly impressed by scoring 4 straight stoppages, though they all came against limited opposition with the match up against Ramos, this past Saturday, being a clear step up. That step up has shown how good he is, but also how much work there is for the youngster to do before facing higher calibre opponents.
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