For us one of those bouts is of a particular interest as Kazakhstan's heavy handed Zhanat Zhakiyanov (25-1, 18) challenges WBA interim Bantamweight champion Yonfrez Parejo (17-1-1, 8), from Venezuela. On paper this is the most significant bout for either man so far and could well help set the stage for some big Bantamweight bouts in 2016.
The champion is a little known Venezuelan 29 year old who turned pro in 2009. His first bout of note saw him defeat the then unbeaten Jean Sampson in 2012 before being stopped, in 8 rounds, by the excellent Hugo Ruiz. Since then he has racked up 6 wins, including a decision win over Angky Angkotta in Indonesia and a win over Luis Hinojosa in 2014 to win his title.
From the footage of Parejo he looks to be a crafty fighter with an excellent and busy jab, intelligent movement and fast hands. Whilst his jab did catch out eye in terms of his punching we were actually more impressed by his calmness and confidence in the ring. He's certainly not the best Bantamweight out there, and he does make mistakes, but there is a lot of positives to take from his previous performances and he does look like the type of fighter who could frustrate fighters on the back foot.
Saying all that however Parejo has lost to the only world class fighter he's faced and hasn't really scored a win of world renown, hence why he's an unknown fighter.
Whilst Parejo is a known to only the hardcore and Latino fans Zhakiyanov is actually known in Europe, where he has spent some of his career under the guidance of the legendary Ricky Hatton. It's been under the watchful eye of Hatton that Zhakiyanov has claimed the European title and climbed the world rankings. Despite the link to Hatton however the Kazakh is a very well traveled fighter having already fought in Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Switzerland, the UK, Belarus, Hong Kong, Australia and Bulgaria.
In the ring Zhakiyanov looks like a very limited fighter. In fact to call him fundamentally flawed would be a compliment. What he does have in his favour however is power and physical strength. It's been his power which has resulted in his victories, some of which have been sensational like his win over Karim Guerfi who he iced in style. Watching him it seems clear he can be out boxed but going to war with him seems to be a stupid idea for anyone.
Whilst his flaws will hold him back from ever being a real star Zhakiyanov doesn't have time to waste any more as he turns 32 just days before the fight and it seems it's “now or never” for “ZZ”.
Watching the two men it seems clear that Parejo is the much better boxer, and in fact he clearly has the ability to box his way to a decision. Sadly for him we don't really know how tough he is and there is a good chance that he will be caught hard from a Zhakiyanov shot that ends the night early.
We're expecting Parejo's boxing to be the key early though as he slows down in the middle rounds there will be more opportunities for the Kazakh who will manage to tag the Venezuelan. When he does that, then things will be come interesting and we could see a new champion being crowned.