We've known for a while that the sensationally talented Tursynbay Kulakhmet (1-0, 1) [Турсынбай Кулахмет], from Kazakhstan, would be having his second bout on November 11th in the UK. Whilst we knew the when and the where, we didn't anything else about the bout, such as who he would be facing.
That all changed earlier today when MTK Global announced the full details of Kulakhmet's next bout, and made it very clear that he was being stepped up at in a big way.
We now know the former amateur standout out will take on unbeaten Englishman Macaulay McGowan (14-0-1, 3) in a bout for the WBC International Light Middleweight / Super Welterweight title, in a very, very good looking test.
The 26 year old Kulakhmet made his professional debut this past August, in a sensational performance against Sagadat Rakhmankul, who retired in the corner after 4 rounds. That performance saw the Kazakh get rave reviews from not just ourselves but almost everyone watching him show off what he could do. It was known that he wanted to be fast tracked, though few would have expected him to take on a fighter unbeaten in 15 bouts in just his second contest.
McGowan began his career in 2014 and won his first 10 before being held to a draw against the then 7-0 Jez Smith. Since then he has reeled off 4 more wins on the British scene. Whilst he is more experienced as a professional than Kulakhmet this is still a serious step up on class for McGowan, taking on someone with exceptional amateur pedigree.
For fans wishing to watch this bout it will be shown on ESNP+ in the US and IFL TV for those across the globe, and will be a great chance to see just how good the hotly tipped Kazakh sensation really is.
When ALA closed their doors earlier this year, after more than 35 years of being involved in the sport, there were a number of notable fighters released from their contracts and essentially but on a free agency lists. Whilst many of those were touted prospects and fringe contenders, one name stood out as being a legitimate legend of the lower weights. That was 4-weight world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23).
The veteran, who won world titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Super Flyweight, was approached by numerous promoters about handling the finals few fights of his career. Today however it was announced that the race for his signature was over and that he had signed with a new promoter and management company.
Just moments ago MTK announced that Nietes had signed a deal with MTK Global to advise and manage his career and with Dubai based D4G Promotions to promote his career. Following former ALA stablemate Albert Pagara.
In a press released issued by ALA Nietes himself is quotes as stating:
“I am very happy with this new step in my career. It means so much to me. Being a part of this team is brilliant and I am very grateful.
“I’m happy with what I’ve achieved so far. The journey has been wonderful and I will forever cherish how I worked hard in building my successful career. I’m not done yet and I am now hoping to get a fight with Estrada, Rungvisai and Chocolatito.
“I want to be back as soon as possible. Whether it be December or January. I am currently preparing already and I am pleased to be going back in the ring after two years. I will bring pride to MTK Global, D4G Promotions and my country Philippines.”
As well as Nietes the press released included quotes from the MTK Global Chief Strategy Officer Paul Gibson:
“We’re delighted to again be teaming up with our friends at D4G Promotions to work alongside boxing legend Donnie Nietes.
“He’s already had tremendous success in his career having won world titles in four-weight classes, and we’re confident of securing some huge fights for him in the always-entertaining super-flyweight division.”
And Ahmed A Seddiqi, from D4G Promotions:
It’s an honour to announce the signing of Donnie Nietes, and both us and MTK Global are extremely excited to be working with such a huge talent.
“There are some massive fights out there for him, and we are looking forward to seeing him showcase his skills when he makes his long-awaited return in the near future.”
At the moment the news on when Nietes will return to the ring is unclear, however Nietes had recently told the Manilla Times "They want to give me a tune-up fight by December or January." So fingers are crossed that that is still the plan and we will see him in the ring in the next few months. Given that Nietes is already 38, and will be turning 39 in May, his career is certainly not far from ending, and it may well be that he only has 2 or 3 bouts left in his body.
It's worth noting that Nietes has been away from the ring since a career defining victory in 2018 over Kazuto Ioka, to become the WBO Super Flyweight champion. His hope had been to secure a big fight with ALA but that big fight was never secured and the hope now seems to be for D4G to land him that big, mega fight to end his career.
For those interested the press release can be read here..
Back in August we saw 19 year old Kazakh hopeful Talgat Shaiken (1-0) [Талгата Шайкена] make his professional debut. Today MTK announced his next bout, which we now know will take place in Kazakhstan this coming Wednesday, September 23rd.
The bout will Sahaiken take on experienced Uzbek fighter Bakhrom Payazov (22-13, 15) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a bout that will be part of a pretty interesting Kazakh card.
Shaiken, who looked flawed but exciting on his debut, is regarded by many as a really talented and promising, but one who will need time to develop and round off his skillset. He's aggressive, exciting, physically powerful and very, very raw. With that in mind an opponent like Payazov is a perfect bit of match making for Shaiken.
Payazov is no world beater, he's 35, he's been stopped in 9 of his 13 losses, he's a naturally smaller man, but will know enough to ask questions of Shaiken, before eventually being stopped by the Kazakh youngster.
Incidentally the man Shaiken beat on his debut, Berikbay Nurymbetov (5-1, 1) [Берикбай Нурымбетов], will also be on this show. The once beaten Nurymbetov will be up against the unbeaten Ray Seitzhanov (3-0) [Рай Сейтжанов] in a scheduled 10 rounds. Another 10 rounder will see will see Uzbek fighter Mukhitdin Rajapbaev (12-7-1, 8) take on local fighter Yedil Kozhamberdiyev (9-2, 9) [Едил Кожамбердиев] in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Cruiserweight Cruiserweight.
One other bout worthy of attention will see touted Nurtas Azhbenov (9-0, 4) [Нуртас Ажбенов] take on Armenian foe Arkadi Harutyunyan (4-11, 1). This isn't a great bout but Azhbenov has been regarded as one to watch since he turned professional and for those who have followed it's worth being aware of this bout, as it appears the show has been put together on relatively short notice.
Last month ALA Boxing closed it's doors after 35 years in the sport, ending it's run as the premier promotional outfit in the Philippines. Whilst that was sad news for the Filipino fight scene it did leave the door open for it's fighters to spread their wings and it ended up with a number of talented, skilled and promising fighters becoming free agents.
We had expected a dash to sign a number of those fighters, but so far only one fighter has officially been picked up. That is Super Bantamweight contender Albert Pagara (32-1, 23) who has now signed a deal with MTK Global, who will act as an advisor to the talented boxer-puncher who is also working with D4G Promotions.
The deal becomes the first between MTK and the Philippines, and could end up be the first of many with there being a huge amount of untapped talent in the country.
Pagara was once tipped as one of the future stars of Filipino boxing. He won his first 26 bouts and looked to be on the verge of a world title fight before losing to Cesar Juarez in 2016. Since then he has bagged 6 wins and re-established himself as a contender, but does really need a big fight sooner rather than later. With that in MTK are a great team to be with, and they should be able to secure him a big fight in the next year or two.
Following the signing MTK send out a press release regarding Pagara's move, including comments from Pagara, the MTK Chief Strategy Officer Paul Gibson and D4G Promotions representative Ahmed A Seddiqi.
Pagara is quoted as saying:
“I am really excited to join with MTK Global and D4G Promotions. It’s a great honour to be part of the same team as some of the biggest names in professional boxing, so I am happy and thankful for this opportunity.
“I have a good record and I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved so far, but I feel I can still do so much more. That’s why I signed up with MTK Global and D4G Promotions.
“I started boxing when I was eight-years-old because of my father, and it led to my brother and I both becoming professional boxers and joining ALA Promotions. I give big credit to ALA Promotions for my success and most of what I have achieved in my career as a boxer. I wouldn’t be where I am now if not because of them.
“I hope to soon fight for a title, and I know MTK Global and D4G Promotions will help me in this regard. I have complete trust in them to help me achieve my dreams.”
Paul Gibson's comments were:
“The Filipino market is one we’ve been interested in for a long time so it is a pleasure to announce Albert Pagara as our first signing from the country.
“He is a fantastic addition to our super bantamweight stable where he sits high in the WBO rankings alongside Michael Conlan, Thomas Patrick Ward and Davey Oliver Joyce.
“We were very sorry to hear our friends at ALA Promotions were forced to close but we are determined to work with Filipino stars like Albert and help take them to the next level.”
Whilst Seddiqi is quoted as say:
“We’re thrilled to announce the signing of Albert Pagara, and we’re confident that by working with MTK Global we can help him achieve his dream of becoming world champion.
“He’s an extremely exciting talent, and we’re looking forward to seeing him showcase his skills when he returns to the ring in the near future.”
At the time of writing it's unclear when Pagara will be back in the ring though we wouldn't be surprised to see him fighting in Dubai in the future. That's D4G are based and where he actually fought back in 2015, stopping Jesus Antonio Rios.
Earlier today MTK Global announced their latest Kazakh signing, and it a big and interesting one for us!
The man in question is Kazakh Super Heavyweight standout Kamshybek Kunkabayev [Камшыбек Кункабаев], who has been one of the standouts on the Asian and International amateur scenes over the last few years.
The 28 year old Kunkabayev was a 2-time silver medal winner at the World Amateur Championships (2017 and 2019) and Asian Championships (also 2017 and 2019).
A press release from MTK Global saw Kunkabayev stating:
“I’m very pleased to be signing with MTK Global. I’ve been really happy with what I have achieved in my career so far and I’m confident that working with MTK and Askar Salikbayev can help me reach the top.
“I have some big goals that I want to accomplish in my career, so I can’t wait to continue proudly representing Kazakhstan and show everybody what I am capable of throughout the rest of my career.”
For those unsure on who Askar Salikbayev, he is the head of MTK Kazakhstan who will be guiding his career. Salikbayev has also been quote in the press release to announce the fighter's signing, stating:
We are honoured to be welcoming Kamshybek Kunkabayev to the team. He is a hero in Kazakhstan and we’re extremely happy to have him join MTK Global.
“He has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, so we’re thrilled to have him represent Kazakhstan and MTK Global at that prestigious and iconic event.
“We have really high hopes for what Kunkabayev can achieve in boxing, so it is set to be a very bright future for this exciting star.”
At the moment it's unclear when Kunkabayev will make his debut, but given his amateur success and background in the unpaid ranks there really isn't a need to move him slowly. Given his age, his background and his talent we would love to see him facing known "names" within a year or so and climbing into the world rankings within 2 years, though with the Olympics there is probably going to be a more cautious approach to bringing him through the rankings.
Talking about the Olympics Kunkabayev is expected to fight at the Tokyo games, and may be one of the many fighters who crosses back and forth with professional and amateur boxing, like his great amateur rival Bakhodir Jalolov, from Uzbekistan.
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