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.