Arguably the leader of this new generation of talent in the lowest weight class is the current WBA interim champion Knockout CP Freshmart (9-0, 4), who looks to fend off one of the “old generation” of fighters this coming week as he defends his title against Indonesian veteran Muhammad Rachman (65-11-5, 35). It's as “Old Skool” Vs “New Skool” as the division will really allow and amazingly there is 19 years of age difference between the two men.
The 43 year old Rachman really is old skool. He began his career in the early 1990's, just years after the Minimumweight division began to be recognised, and has since faced a slew of fighters of interest ranging from former champions, like Nico Thomas, to current day contenders, like Denver Cuello.
At his best, in the mid 00's, Rachman was a force to be reckoned with and for almost 3 years he was the IBF champion with defenses against Fahlan Sakkreerin, Omar Soto and Benjie Sorolla. Those days however are almost a decade gone, and even then Rachman was old for a man in the Minimumweight division.
Although looking shot following the loss of his IBF title in 2007 Rachman for a short lived return to success in 2011 when he shocked the then unbeaten Kwanthai Sithmoreseng to claim the WBA title and become a 2-time champion. The win over Kwanthai saw Rachman becoming the division's oldest champion but his reign was short lived as he lost the title just a few months later in a somewhat competitive bout against Pornsawan Porpramook.
The bout with Porpramook was the last notable one for Rachman and that bout came back in July 2011. Since then he has scored a couple of low profile wins over Thai journeymen and actually been a promoter. For a number of small Indonesian shows.
Whilst Rachman has wound down his career we have seen the division change drastically and Knockout CP Freshmart has been part of that change.
Knockout only debuted in June 2012 when he beat Marzon Cabilla for the WBC Youth Minimumweight title. Since then his rise through the ranks has been a quick one with his combination of Muay Thai experience, power, skills and desire, as well as financial backing to allow him to be fast tracked.
Last October Knockout scored the best win of his career when he defeated Carlos Buitrago in a controversially scored bout in Buriram. The win was, for Knockout, huge and put him on the boxing map though many felt he had been fortunate to claim the win. In that bout his power didn't have the effect he had hoped with and his relative lack of skills did see Buitrago winning rounds just due to a huge differential in skills. At the end of the day however Knockout did enough to convince the judges he deserved the win, albeit with some help from the fans who cheered his every bit of success in the ring.
Whilst Knockout is a relative newcomer to boxing he was a former standout Muay Thai fighter who really accomplished all he could before turning his attention to western boxing. It was due to that Muay Thai experience that he was fast tracked, though in many ways he needs more experience before fighting one of the top guys in the division. We suspect that's why Knockout is fighting Rachman who has proven to be tough despite his advanced age.
In a career spanning more than 20 years and 80 bouts Rachman has only been stopped once, by the excellent Denver Cuello. It's an amazing stat when you look through who Rachman has fought but it's the perfect example of why he has been selected here. He's no longer a danger but he's tough and will likely be able to see out 12 rounds with Knockout. Rachman's being viewed not only as a “safe” and “tough” opponent but also a big name in the division and a win over him here, as expected, will help raise Knockout's profile whilst also preparing him, in some ways, for a bout against one of the better fighters in the division.
It's thought that if Knockout wins here, which he should, he will target the WBA “regular” title. His performance, more than the result, will likely tell us whether he will have to wait for his shot at the “regular” title, currently held by Hekkie Budler.