Unbeaten Uzbek Bektemir Melikuziev (5-0, 4) [Бектемир Мелиқўзиев] was scheduled for a big step up this week, when he was matched against former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban (25-5-1, 16). Sadly that bout fell through, very late on, and Periban was replaced by the much less capable Oscar Cortes (27-6, 14).
It was obvious from the moment the two men stepped in the ring that Cortes didn't belong in there, he looked out of shape, and had a look on his face that seemed resigned to defeat.
As soon as the bell went Melikuziev was on the front foot, pressing whilst Cortes seemed to be looking to stay away. Unfortunately for Cortes Melikuziev cut the ring off effectively and cornered him several times.
Earlier in the round the Uzbek dropped the Mexican with a sweeping right hook. Cortes got up, but was stopped around 40 seconds later, when he was dropped for the second time. Although the referee started a count he waved the bout off part way through.
Whilst Periban's pull out was unfortunate, the commission really need to explain why they allowed Cortes in there with Melikuziev. The 26 year old Mexican, who started his career at Featherweight, really had no right to be in there with someone like the Uzbek. On paper it does look a good win, given Cortes went longer with Hugo Centeno Jr and Kamil Szeremeta, but in reality this was pointless and really shouldn't have been sanctioned.
The unbeaten Uzbek will be up against 35 year old Mexican Marco Antonio Periban (25-5-1, 16), at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. This will be one of the under-card bouts for Ryan Garcia's contest with Francisco Fonseca.
On paper this looks like a decent test for Melikuziev, but the reality is that Periban isn't the fighter he once was, and has lost his last 2, and is 5-5-1 in his last 11, dating back over 6 years. Despite that form he has only lost to high caliber fighters, with defeats coming to Sakio Bika, J'Leon Love, James DeGale, Anvi Yildirim and Joshua Buatsi.
The choice of Periban is less about Periban's quality as a test, and more about his profile, as he is relatively well known and will help Melikuziev's profile, whilst being a test of the Uzbek's power. It will also allow Melikuziev to have his name mentioned with some established fighters whilst serving as a chance for him to get some more experience before a big opponent later in the year.
Last night in the US fans saw unbeaten Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3) [Бектемир Мелиқўзиев] took a clear step up, as he took on American Vaughn Alexander (15-4, 9).
The Uzbek had been blitzing solid fighters in his first two bouts but last night showed their was more to him than pure power.
Through the bout we saw how tough Alexander was, something that was never in doubt, but Melikuziev showed how good of a boxer he was. He was out landing Alexander at will, and made the American throw very little. Whilst Alexander did land with what he threw, there was so little of it that hardly mattered. The one guy who letting his hands go was the Uzbek, who was landing at will and showing an impressive variety of shots through the whole 10 rounds.
At the final bell their was no questioning the winner, with Melikuziev dominating every round. He dictated the tempo, the distance, the activity for every minute of every round.
This was a very different performance to the ones we had previously seen from "Bek Bully" who had been hyper destructive, but this was the type of performance that answered a lot of question. We now know that Melikuziev can fight at a good pace for 10 rounds, can box when his power isn't taking opponents out, and can rely on the basics of boxing.
Notably this win also sees Melikuziev claim his first professional title, the WBA Continental Americas Super Middleweight title, and on the back of his shape here it appears that he could drop further down the scales in the future.
(Photo: Tom Hogan / Golden Boy)
Last night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena there was a trio of Asian fighters in action, and they had rather mixed fortunes on the biggest show of the weekend.
The most impressive was Bektemir Melikuziev (3-0, 3) [Бектемир Мелиқўзиев], who was actually extended into the 4th round by the unheralded Clay Collard (4-2-3, 1). The fast rising "Bek Bully" was up against someone wanting to fight back and show his toughness, but in the end Collard was broken down by body shots as Melikuziev continued to build his reputation as a body snatcher.
Talented Kazakh Middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov (13-0, 8) extended his unbeaten run and scored his fourth win of the year, as he out pointed tough Mexican Cristian Olivas (16-6, 13). The talented Nursultanov did what he needed to earn a shut out over 10 rounds, and does seem to be improving fight by fight, but this is his third decision win this year and we do wonder if he has the power for the next. Saying that however Olivas is tough, and has never been stopped so not getting him out, in isolation, it nothing to be ashamed by.
Sadly it was a terrible night for Filipino Romero Duno (21-2, 16) as he was stopped in just 98 seconds by unbeaten American Ryan Garcia (19-0, 16). Duno managed to land a decent right hand, but was then taken apart by Garcia's speed and combinations, and dropped after around 90 seconds. He then failed to beat the count, with his balance being totally gone. This was very much the speed of Garcia being too much for Duno, and in fairness to Garcia shows how much he has improved over the last year or so.
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