Earlier this year several professional fighters took part in the World Championships in Russia, with the most notable of those being Uzbek giant Bakhodir Jalolov (6-0, 6), who went on to win gold in the Super Heavyweight division. The win for Jalolov, and most notably his KO win over Richard Torrez, drew mixed comments from opposing sides of the fence.
On one hand the WBC, and their head honcho Mauricio Sulaiman, were very much against letting professional fighters fight in the amateur competitions. They made out that it was "Brutal and criminal" for Jalolov to fight Torrez in the quarter-finals of the World Amateur Championships. They were very much suggesting that Torrez was "smaller" and "outclassed" by Jalolov, though both men were Super Heavyweights and both had fairly reached the final 8 of the competition. They were, for all intents, there on merit and competing in the same weight class.
We won't go on to look at the multitude of mismatches the WBC have allowed, and in some cases ordered, as that's not the subject of this article. But they very much seemed to downplay the fact that by even reaching that stage of the competition Torrez was a legitimate top amateur. They also seemed to have no problem in allowing Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam, who competed at the 2016 Olympics whilst being a professional, to fight for their Diamond title just 3 months earlier.
On the other hand there were people pointing out that the sports were different, and others suggesting that the more pertinent question was "why would a professional even want to compete in the amateurs?" That's the point we want to pick up, especially for Jalolov.
The 6'7" Heavyweight has the tools to be a major force in the professional ranks. He has freakish agility for such a big man, dynamite power in his left hand, a lot of natural charisma, and although his style isn't the most TV friendly his concussive power makes him a must watch fighter. He should, for all intents and purposes, be a promoters dream. A big, hard hitting fighter who oozes charm. Sadly however in almost 18 months as a professional he has fought only 6 times, with only 2 of those bouts coming in 2019. In that same amount of time he has fought at least 11 times as an amateur.
Jalolov has a well known American promoter, who has essentially failed to promote him, failed to make him the name that his talent deserves and although amateurs don't technically get paid, they often do get financially rewarded for winning medals. Back in 2012, at the London games, Uzbek gold medal winners were awarded the equivalent of $150,000 whilst they were award the equivalent of $12,000 for winning gold at the World Amateur Championships. This financial reward isn't huge, but it is something and leads to another point.
These amateur tournaments aren't always about personal glory but about national pride. The Uzbek fighters who went to the various international amateur tournaments this year weren't there just to fight as themselves, but were there to representing their nation, an honour that isn't really possible in the professional ranks. In the pros they are fighting for themselves but in the amateurs they are also fighting for their country, and their countries honour. Something that can, in some cases, be incredibly important.
For a fighter being ill promoted and kept inactive the amateurs give them a chance to stay busy, keep ticking over and, in Jalolov's case, building his profile. His win over Torezz got more fans talking about him, often from an ill informed stand-point, than his 6 professional bouts.
Whilst not every professional fighter has the same reasons for fighting in the amateurs some have a very clear reason. Their professional promoters are simply failing them. For Jalolov to still be such an unknown among fans of professional boxing is abhorrent, and when his promoter is as well known as he is, and often complains about the actions of other promoters, it's simply a joke.
We won't name the promoter of Jalolov's early bouts, but we will say it's time he promotes his fucking fighters, gets them in the public's eye, and keeps them there! Amazing the promoter in question didn't even mention Jalolov's World Championship win on the news section of his website yet still has the fighter listed as one of his fighters!
(Image courtesy of http://www.dbe1.com)
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