One of the most notable shows today took place in Dubai, and features several Asian fighters, including a hotly tipped prospect and a 4-weight world champion, returning after more than 2 years out of the ring.
The opening bout was a total mismatch with unbeaten Kazakh Tursynbay Kulakhmet (3-0, 2) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] successfully defending his WBC International Light Middleweight title in a "blink and you miss it" bout.
The talented Kazakh dropped the 34 year old Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-1, 13) very early on and it seemed the referee gave Rondon a very liberal 10 count. He the Venezuelan one of the slowest counts in history. It didn't matter as Rondon and Kulakhmet met center ring when the bout resumed and within seconds Kulakhmet caught his man with a counter right hook, sending him crashing to the ring, face first, with his body contorting in the air. It was among the most brutal KO's we've seen this year.
The first knockdown came after about 50 seconds, the count for Rondon lasted about 15, and it took just seconds for Rondon to be back on the canvas with the referee waving the bout off.
The second bout saw Fahad Al Bloushi (4-1, 1), from Dubai, take a decision victory against Indian fighter Suraj (2-2, 1). This 4 round novice bout was fairly entertaining, but it seemed like Bloushi was always a bit too big and too strong for Suraj, who gave a very legitimate effort but was often coming off second best.
The final Asian on the broadcast was returning Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-5, 23), who was returning to the ring for the first time in over 2 years. Up against him was game Colombian fighter Pablo Carrillo (25-8-1, 16), with both men looking to claim the vacant WBO International Super Flyweight title.
Early on Nietes looked somewhat rusty, yet still savvy. Not a surprise given his. As the bout went on however he shook that ring rust, found his groove and began to show flashes of his old brilliance. He picked his shots well, for the most part, controlled the action and dictated the tempo as, and when, he wanted.
To his credit Carrillo wasn't there to roll over, and lose. In fact the Colombian landed some really nice body shots at times and showed plenty of ambition. Sadly though there was a lack of class to his work, and when he landed it was one shot here and one shot there. With Nietes it was regular success, and when he landed his biggest shots they really caught the eye. In the final few rounds Nietes really did look very good, counter punching, soaking up the pressure of Carrillo and landing clean, accurate shows, whilst making Carrillo miss.
Sadly with Nietes controlling the bout, it felt very much like a damp squib of a contest. It lacked drama, it lacked excitement, and it was more about Nietes shaking some ring rust and getting a win, rather than entertaining and exciting.
After 10 rounds we went to the judges who all had Nietes winning, with scores of 96-95, 98-92 and 99-91, and is now the new WBO International Super Flyweight champion.
Tomorrow Dubai plays host to an interesting card from MTK, which features not only an excellent main event but also a trio of bouts featuring notable Asian fighters.
The card will be headlined by Jamel Herring (22-2, 10) defending his WBO Super Featherweight title against the hugely popular Carl Frampton (28-2, 16). Although not a bout featuring an Asian fighter the bout is certainly that has our interesting and should be a compelling bout that has notable impact on the division. On the scales Herring was 129.4lb whilst Frampton, looking for a world title in a third weight class, was 129.9lbs.
Of more interest to us are the 3 supporting bouts featuring Asian fighters. These include a very interesting match up at 140lbs between unbeaten Kazakh Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) [Жанкош Тураров] and Northern Irishman Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6). On the scales McKenna was 139.6lbs whilst Turarov requested extra time to weigh in, before finally hitting the scales at 140lbs. That extra time suggested he was struggling to boil down and that could play an important role in their bout. Especially given his recent inactivity and various activities outside of the ring.
Another unbeaten Kazakh on this show is the highly touted Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) [Турсынбай Кулахмет], who will be defending his WBC International Light Middleweight title against 34 year old Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13). Both of these men made weight with no issues. On the scales Kulakhmet, who one British bookies priced as a 1/500 favourite, was 153.9lbs whilst Rondon was 153.7lbs for the bout.
The most interesting of the Asian inclusion's on this show is Filipino legend Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23), who fights for the first time since the end of 2018, when he beat Kazuto Ioka in Macau. He'll be up against Colombian fighter Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16) in a bout for the WBO International Super Flyweight title. On the scales both men made the 115lb limit with nothing to worry about. Nietes was 114.9lbs whilst Carrillo was 114.6lbs. Despite being 38 and returning to the ring after more than 2 years out Nietes looked in genuinely decent shape and didn't look like an old inactive fighter at the weight.
This coming weekend we'll see Filipino legend Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) return for his first bout since a December 31st 2018 win over Kazuto Ioka. The brilliant 4 weight world champion will be hoping for a triumphant return here as he takes on Colombian fighter Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16) for the WBO International Super Flyweight title, on a show promoted by MTK promotions over in Dubai.
Aged 38 and with more than 2 years out of the ring this return to action for Nietes is expected to answer a lot of questions about what "Ahas" has left in the tank. The bookies however see it as a mismatch, and make the Filipino a very clear favourite, best priced at 1/8. Carrillo on the other hand is a strangely attractive 6/1 to win. The draw is priced at 22/1.
For those looking for more value in their bets there is a "Method of victory" market available here. The favoured outcome with the bookies is a decision win for Nietes, which is priced at evens as we type this. A stoppage for Nietes is seen as the second most likely result, and is priced at 13/8.
For Carrillo backers a stoppage for the Colombian is a huge 10/1 whilst a decision for him is an even heftier 20/1.
The bout also has a "To go the distance" market available. This is among the most interesting here. The bout it 10/11 to go the scheduled distance ant 5/4 to finish within the distance. A really tough one to call given that Carrillo is tough and Nietes may well take a few rounds to shake some ring rust.
Earlier today our good Ian Melodillar shared the details of Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) return to the ring, on April 3rd in Dubai, with an update on his opponent and the confirmation that the bout will be for a minor title, as well as sharing the promotional image for the bout.
It's now been confirmed that unbeaten Panamanian fighter Orlando Penalba (10-0, 2) is out of the bout, and he has instead been replaced by experienced Colombian fighter Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16), with the two men set to fight for the WBO International Super Flyweight title.
For the talented Nietes this will be his first bout since December 31st 2018, when he beat Kazuto Ioka for the WBO Super Flyweight title and became a 4 weight champion. With 2 years out of the ring it's hard to know what the 38 year old has left in the tank, but this should be a good chance to see how good he looks and how sharp he is after such a long lay off. We all know little guys age quickly, and 38 is ancient for a Super Flyweight, but he hasn't ever taken a lot of punishment, and he has stayed in good shape during his time out of the ring.
Interestingly Carrillo has also been out of the ring for a while, with his last bout being against Luis Golindano in August 2019, though he is much younger than Nietes, at just 32 years old. Although not a major name Carrillo is a genuine veteran and has shared the ring with the likes of Luis Concepcion, who he fought twice in 2012, Kazuto Ioka, who he fought in 2014 and Francisco Rodriguez Jr, in 2018.
The bout will be featured on the under-card of Jamel Herring's WBO Super Featherweight title defense against against Carl Frampton.
Earlier today it was announced that talented Kazakh Light Middleweight Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] will make his first defense of the WBC International Light Middleweight title, which he won last year in the UK with a decision win against Macaulay McGowan.
The exciting Kazakh hopeful will be up against unbeaten 34 year old Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13), with the two men clashing in Dubai on April 3rd, as part of a stacked that also features Jamel Herring defending his WBO Super Featherweight title against Carl Frampton and the long awaited return to the ring of Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23).
The fast rising Kulakhmet looked sensational as an amateur, winning gold at the Asian Championships and bronze at the World Amateur Championships. He also looked very impressive in his professional debut, though looked somewhat predictable and one-paced in his title winning performance against McGowan. We'd be hoping to see a much better from him here, though it is, admittedly, still very early in his career.
As for Rondon he's a bit of a mystery man who has never fought outside of Venezuela, and pretty much non of his opponents have much known about them. His most notable victory came a year ago, when he beat Bryan Medina for a regional title, taking an 11 round decision over the then 14-0 Medina, though Medina himself is something of an unknown quantity.
The bout, for those wanting to watch, will be shown on IFL TV for most of the world and ESPN+ for American fans.
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