Earlier today the CSKA Sports Complex in Almaty played host to MTK Global Kazakhstan card. Whilst it wasn't the most stacked card it did feature a number of very promising Kazakh fighters who were, for the most part, stepping up a level with several getting their best tests so far.
One of the local fighters picking up a win was the often frustrating Nurtas Azhbenov (12-1, 4), who rebounded from a July loss to Isa Chaniev as he beat light punching 36 year old Sherali Dostiev (9-2-1, 2) over 10 rounds. Azhbenov, who looks like a talented but hugely frustrating fighter, walked away with the clear decision, but again it's clear he doesn't have what is needed to reach the upper echelons.
One of the most impressive performances came from Sultan Zaurbek (12-0, 8) who retained the WBO European Super Featherweight title with a 6th round TKO win over Ryan Wheeler (16-2-1). Zaurbek impressed from the off, fought like a man with a point to prove, and repeatedly hurt Wheeler. In round 6, with Wheeler rocked, Paul Tuzinde stepped in to save the British fighter
Another very impressive performance came from Talgat Shayken (7-0, 4) who claimed the WBC Youth title at Welterweight as he dominated Ukrainian Volodymyr Hordiienko (9-4, 4). This was a show case of controlled aggression from Shayken, who broke down, dominated, out landed and beat up Hordiienko. Credit goes to the Ukrainian for showing his toughness, but he failed to win a round, as Shayken shut him out over the 10 round distance.
Another of the top hopefuls on this card was former amateur star Kamshybek Kunkabayev (4-0, 4), who defeated Steven Ward (13-2, 4) and claimed the WBA Gold Cruiserweight title. Ward was outclassed from the start, he struggled to get around the long southpaw jab of Kunkabayev, and although he landed the occasional blow, his counters were few and far between. The clean blows of Kunakbayev were taking their toll, but a head clash left Ward cut, and took up to the scorecards in round 7, with Kunkabayev winning every every round of the bout when it was stopped.
Just moments ago we saw the end of a show from Kazakhstan, shown live from Almaty from IFL TV. The card was certainly not the most exciting or competitive, but it was one with several noteworthy bouts on it.
One of the first bouts of real note saw Kazakh fighter Abay Tolesh (7-1, 5) [Абай Толеш] score a brutal KO win over Russian Vasily Shtyk (2-3, 2). The bout had been fairly competitive until Tolesh hurt Shtyk in round 5, and then dropped him. Surprisingly Shtyk got to his feet quickly, and it was probably too quickly with Tolesh going after him, and finishing in highlight reel fashion. Sadly whilst the KO it's self was fantastic questions need to be asked of the referee who should have stepped in earlier and saved Shtyk from the final few shots.
Another bout of note saw talented youngster Talgat Shayken (4-0, 2) [Талгат Шайкен] battle against Russian fighter Evgeny Pavko (18-4-1, 13). This one started with drama as Shayken was shaken within seconds, though he recovered very well and by the end of round 3 he looked in control of his more experienced foe. Despite looking super aggressive in his first 3 bouts, he showed real calmness here, and boxed well, dictating the bout with his boxing skills, and easily took the 8 rounds decision.
The chief support bout saw unbeaten Kazakh Nurtas Azhbenov (11-0, 4) [Нуртас Ажбенов] take on once beaten Russian fighter Evgeny Smirnov (13-2-3, 3) in a 10 rounder for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Lightweight title. On paper this looked a really interesting match up, and it proved to be competitive, though not the most exciting. The skilled Azhbenov used his skills on the outside to take an early lead, but it was the pressure of Smirnov that made the fight, especially in the second half as he forced Azhbenov to work. Sadly two of the judges failed to give Smirnov any credit for his work, scoring it wide for Azhbenov, but in reality he was forced to work for this win.
Despite the win we're still unconvinced that the 26 year old Azhbenov has the tools to go all the way. He's clearly a skilled fighter but he lacks power and he lacks intensity, and we suspect those issues will cost him sooner rather than later.
In the main event Kazakh standout Kamshybek Kunkabayev (3-0, 3) [Камшыбек Кункабаев] scored his latest win, as he over-came Server Emurlaiev (23-2, 8), who was a late replacement for Northern Irish fighter Steven Ward (13-1, 4), and claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Crusierweight title.
From the opening round Kunkabayev dictated pretty much everything behind his sharp jab and his composed boxing. There was a feeling that he was fighting well within himself and was wanting rounds, rather than wanting to impress, and he seemed to remain in first gear through the first 5 rounds. In round 6 he finally rocked his man and then hurt him again on the bell. After the 6th round Emurlaiev and his team decided enough was enough and pulled out of the corner before the start of round 7.
We've known for a while that Kazakh hopeful Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) [Камшыбек Кункабаев] would be getting his first title bout on February 27th. Originally he was scheduled to face once beaten Northern Irish fighter Steven Ward (13-1, 4), in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Crusierweight title.
Other the last day or so it's been revealed that Ward is out of the bout and has been replaced by Uzbek born Ukrainian based fighter Server Emurlaiev (23-1, 8).
On paper this looks like a step up, with Kunkabayev taking on a man with more experience than Ward, who hasn't been blown out in a round and who's only loss was a split decision to former WBA "interim" world champion Stanislav Kashtanov. In reality however it's probably a down grade with Emurlaiev being a 35 year old who has fought just once since the end of 2012, and that was a DQ win over novice Ajmal Zarif. Emurlaiev is also a an better known for his exploits at Super Middleweight, rather than Cruiserweight.
Rather weirdly Emurlaiev's last bout came just 1 week ago, when he scored that DQ win over Zarif, that was his first bout since the loss to Kashtanov in November 2012.
Sadly this shouldn't be any sort of a test for Kunkabayev who we suspect will pick up the WBO Asia Pacific title without answering any questions. Whilst it's good to see a decent looking opponent at late notice, this is very much a case of smoke and mirrors in regards to Emurlaiev's record and potental.
Earlier today it was announced that fast rising Kazakh hopeful Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2) [Камшыбек Кункабаев] would be getting his first title bout on February 27th in Almaty, on an MTK Kazakhstan show.
The talented Kunkabayev will be up against Northern Irish fighter Steven Ward (13-1, 4), with the two men battling for the WBO Asia Pacific Crusierweight title, a title that should see the winner moved to within touching distance of a WBO Cruiserweight world title fight.
Kunkabayev, a 2-time World Amateur Championship silver medal winner, has been matched aggressively since beginning his professional campaign last August, when he debuted against Issa Akberbayev, and to see him fight for a title so early in his career is incredibly exciting, and a statement of intent. What makes it more impressive was the fact that he began to fight professionally to stay in shape for the Tokyo Olympics!
As for Ward he has been a professional since 2016 and won his first 12 bouts, claiming the WBO European Light Heavyweight title along the way. In 2019 however he suffered his first professional loss, losing inside a round to the under-rated Ricards Bolotniks. This will be his second bout since that loss, and he will be entering as a very clear under-dog for his first fight outside of the UK.
For fans wanting to tune in to this bout it will be streamed worldwide on IFL TV and shown in the US on ESPN+.
Earlier today the great folks at Vesti.kz announced a host of details regarding a December 18th show from MTK Kazakhstan, which will be held in Almaty and feature a staggering 22 bouts!
In one of the main bouts from the show Kamshybek Kunkabayev (1-0, 1) [Камшыбек Кункабаев], a 2-time World Amateur Championship silver medal winner, will fight in his second professional bout. He will be up against tough Ukrainian Serhiy Radchenko (7-6, 2), who has gone the distance with some very good competition, including Krzysztof Glowacki - who he dropped, Michal Cieslak, Ruslan Fayfer, Aleksei Ergorov and Artur Szpilka, who he ran very close this past March. For a second professional bout this is a real test for the unbeaten Kazakh, who is fighting as a professional boxer to merely stay busy whilst awaiting the Tokyo Olympics.
Another notable name on the show will be unbeaten 24 year old prospect Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) [Султан Заурбек], who will take on Ukrainian Vladyslav Melnyk (12-2, 7) in an interesting looking 8 rounder. Despite not having a title on the line here this is one of the most interestingly and well matches bouts on the card and looks to be a decent step up in class for Zaurbek, who is a clear talented but is yet to be given the tests to really know how good he actually is.
In an interesting all-Kazakh bout Nurbol Sultanbay (3-0, 1) [Нурбол Султанбай] will battle Miras Ertanov (2-0, 1) [Мирас Ертанов] in a minor title unification bout. Interestingly these two men both made their debuts earlier this year and have been fast tracked to title bouts, even if they are only for minor belts. Sultanbay will be looking to make his first defense of the WBO Asian Pacific Youth Light Middleweight title whilst Ertanov will be looking to defense his WBC Asian Boxing Council for the first time.
We'll also get a very similar match up between Torgynbek Amirov (2-0) [Торгынбек Амиров] and Alimzhan Tursunov (4-0, 3) [Алимжаном Турсуновым], who will also be battling for two minor titles in another unification bout. Amirov enters as the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Super Featherweight champion whilst Tursunov is the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver champion, both men are looking to make their first defenses and become a double champion.
One other bout that is really interesting will see 20 year old Kazakh hopeful Talgat Shayken (2-0, 1) [Талгат Шайкен] take on 34 year old veteran Maxim Churbanov (8-7-1-1). The promising Shayken turned professional with a decent amount of buzz, and despite not shining in his debut, he looked a lot more polished in his second bout and this should be a good test against a 34 year old who has been mixing in good company in Europe, even if he has lost his last 4.
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