Part of the farcical nature of this bout comes from the fact the WBA have a unified champion, Murat Gassiev, a champion in recess, Denis Lebedev, and am interim champion Arsen Goulamirian. But it becomes a bigger farce when one realises that Shumenov, the WBA #2 ranked fighter, hasn't fought since May 2016, retiring due to an eye injury before un-retiring, and that Altunkaya enters as the #3 ranked WBA fighter. Altunkaya has once just once in the last 12 months, beating the frankly terrible Niko Lohmann in January, and having faced just one fighter of any note, Krzysztof Glowacki, who stopped Altunkaya in June 2017.
At his best Shumenov was a raw, but capable, boxer-puncher. He was fast tracked early in his career and claimed the WBA Light Heavyweight title in his 10th professional bout, back in 2010, with a very controversial decision win against Gabriel Campillo. His reign was a poor one, with 5 defenses in 4 years before he lost to Bernard Hopkins in a WBA/IBF unification bout. Following the loss to Hopkins Shumenov moved up in weight and would win the interim, and regular, WBA Cruiserweight titles, with wins over BJ Flores and Junior Anthony Wright. He would then be forced to retire, as mentioned, due to issues with his sight.
At the age of 34 Shumenov is seeking to become a 3-time world champion and make a successful return. Whilst it's an admirable dream the fact he's getting a world title fight, for a vacant belt, given his long lay off and the WBA's current title situation, does leave a terrible taste in the mouth. It feels obvious that the WBA have, in the past, bent over for Shumenov and it seems like they are doing the same for him again. That, added to some awful cards in his favour, has long left someone questioning what Shumenov has done to have such preferential treatment. He's a good fighter, but has certainly had more than his share of good fortune.
Altunkaya is a 30 year old who's boxrec ranking, at the time of writing, is 71 which seems far, far, far, far more accurate than the #3 ranking that the WBA have given him. He's been a professional since 2008 and his record is incredibly padded, with his best win on paper being a decision over Salvatore Aiello, who's was 29-0 at the time and had a record that was possibly the most padded in the sport at the time. Since then there has only been one notable name that Altunkaya has faced, and that was Glowacki who dominated the Turk.
With absolute no wins of any quality on his record it's impossible to understand what Altunkaya has done to deserve a world title fight. He is a true bottom feeder. Worryingly however he may well have gotten this bout at the perfect time to put himself on the boxing map given the inactivity and injuries of Shumenov. He's certainly the younger, more healthy fighter than Shumenov, but he's also the more limited and the less durable.
We suspect that Shumenov's extra class, quality of experience and skills will take him to a victory here, though wouldn't be surprised if his injuries reared their head and his inactivity and age showed. Either way we do now expect the winner of this bout to hold on to the title for long. Hopefully that will be because they lose it to one of the other champions recognised by the organisation, but we never can be too sure with the WBA and their inconsistent nature of running their own world titles.