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.
Unbeaten 24 year old Kazakh Abay Tolesh (1-0, 1) has become the latest fighter from the Central Asian country to sign with MTK Global, who are really signing a lot of talented Kazakh fighters as the lead into their big show on Capital City Day in Nur-sultan.
The unbeaten Tolesh made his professional debut in April, fighting in Bangkok and scored a quick win over a Thai novice. He will be making his MTK debut on July 6th as part of the big Nur-Sultan card.
At the moment his opponent for July hasn't been announced, but a number of announcements are expected about that card in early June, including opponents for Zhankosh Turarov (22-0, 15) [Жанкош Тураров], Viktor Kotochigov (9-0, 4) [Виктор Коточигов] and WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11).
A few weeks ago MTK Global announced they would be doing a show in Kazakhstan to celebrate Capital City Day. At the time little was known about the show, other than that it would take place on July 6th in Kazakhstan.
Today we got a burst of information about the card, and whilst it left us with a lot of questions that are unanswered it did give us some answers.
Firstly the card will take place in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana, and will feature not only Kazakh fighters but others from the MTK Global stable.
In regards to Kazakh fighters on the card the most notable is Zhankosh Turarov (22-0, 15) [Жанкош Тураров], who hasn't fought since September 2017 and will be looking to make a successful return following injury woes. Others include Viktor Kotochigov (9-0, 4) [Виктор Коточигов], who made his MTK debut earlier this year.
Whilst the Kazakh fighters will be the local draw the big international attraction will be WBC Bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11), who will be making his first defense of the title he won earlier this year. His opponent hasn't yet been announced, though their will be interest in this bout from Japan with Takuma Inoue (13-0, 3) [井上 拓真] set to face the winner later in the year.
Interestingly at the weekend Oubaali was rumoured to be heading to Morroco to defend the title, but him appearing on this show is better yet, given it will have ESPN and IflTV showing it, giving a sizable audience for the bout, and it also gives the card a credible draw at the top level. It is worth noting however, that he hasn't had his opponent for the show announced, yet. There are several really interesting options in the WBC rankings, and hopefully he will face one of the better contenders, rather than just facing the easiest or cheapest foe.
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