Courtesy of boxrec.com
Unbeaten Filipino Merlito Sabillo (22-0, 11) planted his name on the boxing world back in March when he traveled to Colombia and defeated Luis De La Rosa for the "interim" WBO Minimumweight title. The fight was a memorable one with Sabillo scoring his 22nd straight victory and extending to a 4 fight T/KO run.
Although not a name known by the casuals Sabillo is now the the WBO Minimumweight champion (due to Moises Fuentes moving up through the weights) and is preparing for the first defense of his title.
Just like in the bout that saw Sabillo claiming his title his first defense will also come against a Colombian as he takes on the completely unknown Jorle Estrada (17-6, 6) at the Solaire Resort Hotel and Casino in Pasay City.
Whilst not too much is known by the wider boxing community about Sabillo he's a fighter who has been on the Filipino scene for some 5 years and done things "the traditional way" claiming a Filipino title and an OPBF title before moving into the world level.
As a fighter Sabillo is a highly talented southpaw with speed, skills and very under-rated power. Sure he's not a power puncher but his clean shots hurt and in recent bouts he's been sitting on his punches more as his confidence has built up. It was that very confidence that help him go over to Colombia and claim the title in the first place.
Whilst we know plenty about Sabillo we have to admit that we don't really know too much about Estrada with footage being limited and general information being relative sparse.
Estrada is the WBO #6 ranked Minimumweight. Aged 24 he's been a professional since late 2008 and started his career with a 10 fight winning streak. Since then however Estrada has gone 7-6, though admittedly he's been facing a higher quality of opponent to those he faced at the beginning.
Amongst those to have beaten Estrada are former title challengers Walter Tello, Pedro Guevara and Carlos Velarde (best known for his recent loss to Ryo Miyazaki) as well as the promising Carlos Buitrago. He has been stopped in 3 of his 6 losses however he comes in to this bout on a run of 4 victories and having claimed the South American Minimumweight title.
From the footage available of Estrada he looks really poor. His punches are often pushed and lack any real force behind them, he seems to rely on his feet and movement more than anything else defensively and he can be caught to both the head and body with ease.
What doesn't help Estrada is that away from Colombia he is 0-3. His fights so far have all been in Latin America and with this bout being in the Philippines he'll really feel away from home.
With how good Sabillo is it's hard to imagine him really struggling with someone as limited as Estrada. The skill, speed and power as well as the home advantage should all see Sabillo through to victory, probably inside the distance.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Russian Light Welterweight Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8) seemed to emerge from nowhere last year to become the WBA Light Welterweight champion courtesy of a technical decision over Juan Guzman.
Some 7 months after the victory over Guzman, Allakhverdiev returns to the ring to defend his title for the first time. His challenger is French veteran
Souleymane M'baye (40-4-1, 22), a former champion himself.
Allakhverdiev seemed to appear, to the wider boxing public, almost from nowhere with his victory from Guzman. To the hardcore boxing fans however many knew just how good the Russian was. He had started his quick climb to a world title fight in late 2011 with a technical decision over Nate Campbell and remained on a roll with stoppages of Ignacio Mendoza and Kaizer Mabuza before defeating the previously unbeaten Guzman.
Going in to the Guzman bout the casual fans, who had seen Guzman earlier in his career, expected the Dominican fighter to come out on top against the unknown Russian. A section of the hardcore fans expected Guzman to have one final hurrah in what was expected to be his last chance but Allakhverdiev was simply too young, too strong and too good, dropping Guzman several times before a knee injury forced an early ending.
What Allakhverdiev proved in the 4 bouts mentioned above (Guzman, Mendoza, Mabuza and Campbell bouts) was that he wasn't afraid of reputation. He was going to get in there, apply pressure, throw punches and grind down his opponents. What he also proved was that he hit harder than his record stated and was an intelligent fighter able to target fighters weaknesses.
In M'baye we have a challenger who maybe "at home" (the fight will take place in Monte Carlo, Monaco just on the outskirts of France) but at 38 is surely too long in the tooth to really be really a credible challenger.
Like Guzman, M'baye seems to have more lives than a cat and despite only scoring a single victory in the the last 3 years he has somehow managed to get yet another world title fight (in fact going in to this fight the Frenchman is ranked #2 by the WBA).
At his best M'baye was a talented fighter with excellent single shots. Not quite a fighter who lived up to his nickname of "The Sensation", but still a very good fighter. Sadly for M'baye his prime wasn't about lack of talent but more about his mental application inside the ring. He could often switch off for rounds at a time and that's actually how he lost his WBA Light Welterweight title to Gavin Rees back in 2007.
Despite boasting wins over Khalid Rahilou, Andriy Kotelnik, Ammeth Diaz, Colin Lynes and Antonin Decarie it's hard to really say that M'baye, even in his prime, would actually be favoured over Allakhverdiev (at least in a fairly judged contest).
In his current state, M'baye really doesn't have much of a chance against Allakhverdiev. The Russian will set a high tempo early (a bit like Gavin Rees did) and mentally, if not physically, break M'baye with pressure and hard shots.
The question for us isn't whether or not Allakhverdiev will retain his title, we're sure he will, but whether or not he can stop M'baye. The Frenchman has only been stopped once in his 45 fights (and that came via an injury to his knee) though with age, ring rust and questionable stamina all against him as well as the Russian, we'd certainly not rule a stoppage out.
...of course we could be wrong and M'baye could show off his sharp shooting skills and make Allakhverdiev look awful.
Thanks to the Yuzo Kiyota Official Web Site
Outside of Asia not many boxing fans have heard of the hard hitting Yuzo Kiyota (23-3-1, 21). Soon however he will attempt to make history.
The 29 year Super Middleweight from Tokyo will be shot from complete obscurity to the world stage as he attempts to seize the WBO world title from the Russian born German Robert Stieglitz (44-3, 25). If he's successful Kiyota would become not only the first ever Japanese fighter to claim a WBO title but also the first to claim a belt at Super Middleweight.
Kiyota's task is a very difficult one taking on a a 2-time world champion who has recently regained a title that he will not be wanting to let go of. It will not only be Kiyota's first world title bout but it will also be his first bout outside of the world famous Korakuen Hall. But does he have a chance?
For many in Europe Stieglitz is seen as a paper champion, a fighter who is lucky that there is 4 world titles (and more) in his division. Talent wise he is seen as B rate fighter in a division that includes Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler. Despite this "lower" standing Stieglitz is a credible fighter despite his lack of 1-punch power and a world class chin.
At his best Stieglitz is a hard working fighter who will throw a lot and refuse to quit. If he comes out on fire, like he did last time out against Arthur Abraham, he could give any fighter in the division a night mare. He has a solid engine, is technically impressive and has certainly become a lot more confident in his abilities over the past few years. At his worst however he's a bit of a popcorn puncher who can be seriously rattled by power with 2 of his 3 losses coming by stoppage.
It's the durability issues of Stieglitz which may present Kiyota with a chance. Albeit a rather slim one. We're not going to lie, as fun as Kiyota is to watch, he is a major under-dog here.
For Kiyota he'll know perfectly well that he is stepping up to the big boys table. For the past few years his reign as the OPBF Super Middleweight champion has seen him almost acting as a big fish in a little pond. Evidence of this is in the fact that he is 7-0 (7) in OPBF Super Middleweight title bouts, in fact he is unbeaten at 168.
Although Kiyota is unbeaten at Super Middleweight, his most recent loss was a worry. He was taken out in just 128 seconds by Jameson Bostic, though admittedly that was at Light Heavyweight and Kiyota has looked a much improved fighter technically since then.
What Kiyota has going for him is not only a clear power edge but also the fact no one really expects him to do anything. Fans and media alike in Europe have written him off as an "easy" first defense as Stieglitz prepares to finish a trilogy with Arthur Abraham. This puts all the pressure on the champion who could well be looking beyond the Japanese fighter. There is also the fact that Kiyota is an improving fighter, the man who was beaten by Bostic was unrecognisable to the man who defeated Hiromitsu Miura last time out.
By rights Stieglitz has to be favoured. He may be a "B level" world champion but he's proven on the world stage with victories over Arthur Abraham, Khoren Gevor, Enrique Ornelas, Eduard Gutknecht, Karoly Balzsay and Alejandro Berrio. Upsets do happen and if the powerfully built Kiyota can impose himself on the champion with his power he could shock the world, though it would be a major upset.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
It's taken a while for the mainstream boxing public to get to know the destructive Gennady "GGG" Golovkin (26-0, 23) but the hard hitting Middleweight champion is now starting to get the attention he has thoroughly deserved.
At the end of June Golovkin, the WBA Middleweight champion will be facing his toughest fight yet as he faces the popular and often exciting Matthew "Mack the Knife" Macklin (29-4, 20). For Macklin this will be his 3rd world level bout having lost to both Sergio Gabriel Martinez and Felix Sturm (though the loss to Sturm was highly controversial).
Born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan Golovkin has been blessed with all the traits that can make a boxing star. He's talented, he's charming, he's memorable and more than anything else, he has truly concussive power. The sort of thing a highlight reel is made of.
It's the power of Golovkin that has endeared him not only to fight fans but also television networks who have started to show more and more of his bouts whilst pushing him as one of the best fighters (at least stylistically) on the planet. It's with the help of the TV network HBO that Golovkin finds himself on US TV for the 3rd time in 4 fights and in what will be his 9th "world" title bout.
In Matthew Macklin we have a determined and skilled challenger who himself has heavy hands, a good (but not great) skillset, a lot of heart and a fun to watch style which usually involves throwing plenty of leather often up close.
What we have, at least on paper, are 2 of the top 10 Middleweights clashing in a bout that truly looks like it was made with the fans enjoyment first and foremost.
At his best Golovkin, 31, is an excellent counter puncher who sees an opportunity and lands with dynamite power from either hand in the blink of an eye. He applies pressure, forces a mistake and connects cleanly. What makes him so impressive however is that he's always perfectly balanced for the big shot, whether he's going forward or backwards his body is always in the position to take advantage of a slip up.
At his worst the champion is defensively questionable often taking a shot or two that he doesn't really need to take when he's forced to make the fight. Unfortunately for his opponents he takes a shot as well as he delivers one and is rarely in any trouble at all.
Macklin, also 31, is usually a more aggressively minded fighter than Golovkin. His fights with both Jamie Moore and Felix Sturm show just how fun he can be, despite losing both of those fights. Though against Martinez, Macklin did show that he was a very capable boxer and was holding his own against the then #3 Ring Magazine ranked pound-for-pound fighter.
Whilst Macklin is capable on the back foot and very solid on the front foot, he was dropped twice by Martinez who whilst a crisp puncher lacks the lights out power of Golovkin. This is a worry for the fighter from Birmingham, England who knows the dangers of being tagged by Golovkin.
On paper the bout looks like a sure fire barnstormer. Aggressive-come forward power puncher (Macklin) against a murderous punching counter puncher (Golovkin) the problem however could come if Macklin decides not to play ball and elects to box rather than fight. If the challenger does decide to box it could force the champion to turn aggressor, something he can do well.
Sadly for Macklin trying to box with Golovkin is unlikely to be successful as the Kazakh is himself an excellent boxer who had amazing amateur success. If Macklin tries to boxing with Golovkin, the champion will cut the ring off, use body shots to slow Macklin's legs before eventually breaking him down. It really does seem like a no-win situation.
With Macklin aware that boxing Golovkin isn't a smart move, we may well see the Englishman (with Irish roots) electing to just go to war and put on a show for the fans. Doing so may not help his chances at winning but will help him once again win over the fans.
Don't be shocked if this is very short lived but very fun whilst it lasts.
In preparation for this bout we've included a highlight video of Golovkin courtesy of HBOsports.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
Last November Chinese fighter Xiong Zhao Zhong (20-4-1, 11) made history in becoming the first Chinese man to claim a boxing world title.
To many Zhong's victory over Javier Martinez Resendiz for the WBC title was a case of Zhong being given an undeserved opportunity to create history. To others however it was a chance for boxing to awaken a sleeping giant in the potentially huge Chinese boxing market.
The only thing that was obvious with Zhong's victory over Resendiz was that Zhong would have to face stiffer competition if he was wanting to hold the title for long. The WBC, who had hepeld Zhong secure his place in history had already had a final eliminator and so Zhong's first challenger was already arranged and was certainly a tougher opponent than Resendiz.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Having been paid step-aside money following his title eliminator victory way back in 2011, Filipino Denver Cuello (33-4-6, 21) has finally gotten the fight he deserves.
Known as "Mr Excitement" Cuello has been one of the most fun to watch young Filipino's in the boxing world and also one of the top Minimumweights over the past few years.
Going in to the bout there is a lot of pressure on both men. Not only will it be Zhong's first defense of a world title (the first, by any man from China) but will also be Cuello's first chance, at long last, to become a world champion.
Although the pressure on both men is huge it's likely to be more so on Zhong who holds his nations hopes on his shoulders despite the fact that this bout will be fought on neutral turf in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
The 30 year old Zhong, who has been professional since 2006, first made his mark on the boxing world in 2009 when he challenged Daisuke Naito for the WBC Flyweight title. Although Zhong put up a good fight and dropped Naito he failed to do enough to claim the decision and instead had to go back home from Japan belt less.
Since the loss to Naito, Zhong has improved, dropped down in weight and claimed a world title though is still an unproven fighter and not a fighter many would feel is deserving of a world title belt.
Despite his improvements from the Naito fight Zhong is still technically limited though he looks to be a strong fighter (likely the case with the fact he has previously fought at Flyweight) he has very solid stamina (from training at Kumming). It's his technical limitations however that are likely to be key and he can be caught clean pretty easily (Resendiz managed to tag him several times), against a top fighter being caught can mean good night.
The 26 year old challenger, has been a professional since 2004 and although he started his professional career 3-2-4 he has become one of the top Minimumweights in the world on merit.
Cuello, known for his hard punching and aggressive style has scored notable wins in the past few years including stoppages of former world champion Muhammad Rachman, former world title contenders Omar Soto and Takashi Kunishige and the highly ranked Ganigan Lopez.
With seriously hurtful power, devastating body shots and an attacking mindset Cuello is a nightmare to fight. He's a fighter who knows how to hurt opponents with wicked uppercuts and hooks and refuses to be intimidated in the ring. He's technically a bit crude but so powerful, tough and strong that many opponents crumble either under his power or under his pressure.
The big question going in to this bout is whether or not Zhong will manage to get the respect of Cuello. If he can't then this will be a painful night for the Chinese fighter will will be forced to take hurtful shots upstairs and downstairs from a very talented and confident fighter. If Zhong can get Cuello's respect then we may well have a very competitive contest on our hands, unfortunately for Zhong it's not often we see Cuello respecting his opponents too much.
If asked to pick it's hard to go against Cuello. Sure the Filipino has looked less than stellar in his last 2 outings (a 10 round majority decision over Takashi Kunishige and a 10 round unanimous decision over Ivan Meneses) but he has only suffered 1 defeat in 7 years (and that was a disqualification in Mexico in a bout he seemed to be winning).
Note-Despite the spelling we've used through out the preview, the correct spelling of the Chinese fighter's name is actually Xiong Chao Zhong (as mentioned in an article on gokumming.com from 2012).
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Historically the Cruiserweight division has been one of the most over-looked divisions in the sport. In recent years however things have started to change thanks to the exciting fights and wonderful fighters that the division has been turning out.
One man who will be hoping to add himself into the mix in the division is Russian Rakhim Chakhkiev (16-0, 12) a fighter who has long been tipped for major professional success.
Prior to turning professional in 2009 the Russian had recorded an excellent career in the amateur ranks. He had not only claimed a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics but also a silver medal in the 2007 World Amateur Champions and multiple medals in the Russian National championships. His trophy cabinet certainly had a nice collection of medals.
Standing in Chakhkiev's way this coming Friday is Poland's Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (47-2-1, 33), the current WBC Cruiserweight champion who will be looking to make his 5th defense of the belt.
On paper this is an excellent match up between two fighters who carry thunderous power though one of whom is far more experienced than the other. Sometimes however, as we all know, the professional records of the two men don't tell the whole story in terms of experience, especially not when a fighter has an amateur career like Chakhkiev.
The 31 year old champion maybe the more experienced professional with 50 bouts in the paid ranks but this will just be his 7th fight outside of his homeland. On the road Wlodarczyk is 4-1-1, a much less impressive record than his 43-1 record when fighting in his homeland.
Just a year younger than the champion Chakhkiev is oddly fighting in Russia for the first time having been based in Germany for much of his career. Despite this it's unlikely than he will be anything but the crowd favourite with the Moscow crowd likely to be well behind a man who represented them on the amateur stage.
The Polish fighter has had a genuine career of ups and downs. He's a 2-time world champion having claimed the IBF Cruiserweight title back in 2006 in controversial fashion over Steve Cunningham though lost it in his first defense (a rematch with Cunningham). In 2009 he was unfortunate to only draw with Giacobbe Fragomeni for the vacant WBC title (needing a rematch with Fragomeni in Poland to finally get the title) and was fortunate in his second defense to claim a victory over Francisco Palacios.
Following the victory over Palacios there was reports that Wlodarczyk had attempted to commit suicide and that he was having serious issues out of the ring which saw him fighting just once in the following year.
Going in to this bout Wlodarczyk has actually just fought once in a year and with ring rust as well as well as fighting away from home he may have a number of problems.
For Chakhkiev things haven't been as up and down, just more frustrating than anything else.
After turning professional in 2009 it was assume that he would be fasted tracked to a world title fight in just 2 or 3 years. Instead his career has been slowly bubbling rather than exploding and instead of being fast tracked he has been forced to slowly work his way up the rankings with promotional issues really slowing him down over the last year.
Going in to the fight it's easy to see that Wlodarczyk has fought better opponents. Fighters like Cunningham, Fragomeni, Palacios and even Danny Green are better than the likes of Alexander Kotlobay and Zack Page (arguably the second best result on Chakhkiev's record) however he's also struggled to impress.
In terms of the Pole's style he can be made to look like a lazy and disinterested fighter. He has genuinely hurtful power, a lovely jab when he chooses to use it and a toughness to him that will always make him difficult. He has plenty of experience of the 12 round distance and has what appears to be a solid gas tank (though there are questions regarding whether he can actually step it up when needed as he really can be lazy). Notably however Wlodarczyk is a slow starter having only stopped 4 opponents in the first 5 rounds since his first bout with Cunningham.
Chakhkiev, like Wlodarzyck, is heavy handed, every shot he lands hurts. Technically he's very solid and doesn't appear to really have any out and out weakness to him though he can occasionally take a shot that he should have avoided. So far in his career he has shown to be aggressively minded and his power carries through in any round. Although he is an offensive fighter he certainly has the boxing ability to fight on the back foot if necessary, though so far in his professional career we've never really seen too much of that.
In a number of interviews leading up to the fight Chakhkiev has said that he won't go out to stop Wlodarczyk early. Although he's said that, it's hard to imagine him not going for the kill early if he manages to hurt Wlodarczyk. If he can't hurt him then
The video below shows some of Chakhkiev's highlights and is thanks to Piotr Miazgowicz.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.