Through the last few hours we've been lucky enough to tune in to an incredibly long Russian show that featured a handful of Asian fighters.
One of those was Bakhodur Usmonov (2-0), who saw make a successful professional debut last year against Vildan Minasov. He was in action against Kazakh fighter Bektas Kassenay (4-1, 1) and took his second professional win.
From the off Usmonov looked much better here than he had in his debut. He was in charge from the start, and was applying the pressure round after round, letting shots go, whilst Kassenay was forced to slip shots and try to counter. Credit goes to Kassenay for fighting back, and trying to respond to everything, but he was on the wrong end of the vast majority of clean shots for 6 rounds. He gave a true effort but was second best to the unbeaten Tajik.
Things weren't as good for the under-sized Azeri fighter Elvin Akhundzada (4-6, 2), who was stopped by unbeaten Russian hopeful Vladimir Mironchikov (3-0, 3) . The 34 year old Akhundzada was giving away significant weight and he looked visibly smaller than Mironchikov, with everything he landed bouncing off the unbeaten Russian. Late in the opening round Akhundzada was dropped from a body shot and whilst he did see out the opening 3 minutes he didn't get out of his corner to begin round 2.
The most notable of the central Asian fighters on this card was Uzbek contender Azizbek Abdugofurov (13-1, 5) [Азизбек Абдуғофуров], who competed in the chief support bout of the show. In the opposite corner to Abdugofurov was brilliant Russian prospect Pavel Silyagin (7-0, 4), who should absolute class to give Abdugofurov his first professional loss.
From the opening round Silyagin was in control, he was too quick, too skilled, too versatile and smart for the slow footed pressure of Abdugofurov, who had moments but nothing too sustained. From round 1 to round 7 the bout was all Silyagin's, as he bloodied Abdugofurov's nose and hurt him several times. Credit however to Abdugofurov who refused to just roll over and take a loss, and in round Abdugofurov rocked Silyagin, giving the bout some real drama. It seemed that there was set to be a momentum shift towards Abdugofurov who came out for the next round looking hungry.
Sadly for Abdugofurov he failed to build on his big moment, and in round 9 Silyagin had resumed resumed control of the action, with his boxing at and punching on the move. That control of Silyagin's never let up to the final bell, and he really put on a brilliant show case of boxing skills.
After 12 rounds it was clear that Silyagin had schooled Abdugofurov, and the scores reflected that, with Silyagin get the nodge on the judges with scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109. With the win he claimed the WBC Silver Super Middleweigth title and made a genuine statement. As for Abdugofurov this is not the result he would have wanted after a disappointing run in his career that saw him out of the ring for 18 months.
Over the weekend MTK Global announced that they had signed 21 year old Tajik Olympic hopeful Bakhodur Usmonov (0-0).
According to a statement made by MTK the plan is for the youngster to continue to compete in the amateurs until after the 2020 Olympics before fully committing to the professional scene.
The youngster has had a great year, highlighted by winning gold at the ASBC Asian Boxing Championship back in April, in Thailand. He's expected to build on that success in 2020, where he is regarded as a medal hopeful, before looking to become of the few Tajik fighters to make a real mark on the pro-scene.
Even waiting for the Olympics won't be much of issue for Usmonov given his youth and it's going to be really exciting to see how far he goes under the guidance of MTK, who continue to snap up fighters from Central Asia. Although Usmonov is the first Tajik to sign with MTK he does join a number of Kazakh and Uzbek fighters as the stable continues to grow in the region. We suspect more fighters from the region will join with MTK in the new year as they look to become one of the regions biggest players.
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