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)
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.
Two unbeaten Kazakh hopefuls saw action earlier today in Cardiff, Wales, though neither bout really saw the Kazakh fighters shine, despite both picking up early victories over their opponents.
The first of those was Sultan Zaurbek (7-0, 5) [Заурбек Султан], a very highly touted Super Featherweight hopeful. Zaurbek was up against the under-sized Sergio Gonzalez (10-16-5, 7), a Spanish based Nicaraguan journeyman. Gonzalez, who had been stopped in 5 of his previous 15 losses, never looked in the bout but it took a whilst for Zaurbek to really open up, as he instead went through the motions and bagged the rounds. Thankfully Zaurbek did manage to go through the gears later on, and picked up the stoppage in round 8, with just seconds of the bout left.
The other was Zhankosh Turarov (23-0, 16) [Жанкош Тураров] who scored a really strange win over Ghana's Richmond Djarbeng (29-4-1, 23). Turarov did what he wanted for the first 2 rounds with Djarbeng have no success at all, before pulling out of the bout, citing stomach pains. Although Turarov was bossing things the end really denied Turarov a chance to shine, in what was his first bout since September 2017.
Whilst neither man showed what they could really do today it is worth noting that both are pencilled in to fight again on July 6th in Nur-Sultan as part of a big MTK Global card to celebrate Capital City Day in Kazakhstan. We're hoping that both show what they can do on that show
Earlier today fight fans watch the MTK Global show from Dubai got the chance to see a number of Asian fighters in action.
One of the most notable was 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Shakhobidin Zoirov (1-0, 1) [Шаҳобиддин Зоиров], though his role was little more than a "blink and you miss it" cameo, as he took out hapless Indonesian Anthony Holt (5-5-1, 3) in less than 30 seconds. The bout had hardly started by the time Zoirov landed his first left hand, it was essentially the only real connect of the fight, with Holt dropping from a glancing follow up. He would stay down in what was a joke of an effort against a real talent.
The loss for Holt, or rather the complete none effort, shouldn't have been any surprise given how he looked when he fought Jin Minamide last year and gave an equally inept performance.
Following Zoirov's performance we then saw Kazakh prospect Sultan Zaurbek (6-0, 4) [Заурбек Султан] put on a show case against the limited but tough Chinese fighter Chenghong Tao (7-6-1, 5). The Chinese fighter was left with a bloodied nose by the end of the opening round and was never really in the fight before being taken out with a brutal left-right in round 5, and falling in very eye catching fashion.
This was as good from Zaurbek as we've seen and it's clear he is in need of better tests, not just record padding wins. As for he gave the fight a go, but was totally out of his depth, and that was clear from the opening seconds.
Earlier today MTK Global announced a card set for April 5th in Dubai. By it's self that isn't huge news, but there are a number of Asian fighters set to feature on the show, with the most interesting being 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Shakhobidin Zoirov (0-0) [Шаҳобиддин Зоиров], who will be making his professional debut.
Zoirov, from Uzbekistan, was the Olympic champion at Flyweight and had also taken silver medals at both the Asian Games, and the Asian Amateur Championships. He's a bit older than some of the recent Uzbek's to turn professional, at 26, but is expected to be fast tracked as a result and we wouldn't be surprised to see him up against world ranked fighters at some point in the next 18-24 months.
As well as Zoirov this card will also feature unbeaten hopeful Sultan Zaurbek (5-0, 3) [Заурбек Султан] among others. At the time of writing, neither man has had their opponent confirmed for the show.
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