Earlier today it was revealed that unbeaten Kazakh Tursynbay Kulakhmet (3-0, 2) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] would be returning to the ring on July 10th, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he will face 32 year old Ukrainian Stanyslav Skorokhod (20-2, 17).
The talented Kulakhmet, one of the standout Kazakh amateurs of recent years, made his professional debut last August. Since turning professional he has looked both brilliant, as he did on his debut, and frustratingly limited, as he did in his second professional bout, though it's clear he's a work in progress and is developing his professional style.
Skorokhod on the other hand is a 22 fight veteran who has a very nice looking record, at least on paper. In fact there's a genuine argument that he could have won both of the bouts he lost, including one in the 2015 ESPN Boxcino tournament to John Thompson. Sadly though there is little of real substance to his record, and his best wins have been against the likes of Artem Karpets and Michael Moore.
The bout will headline a notable MTK card in Almaty which will also feature the likes of Sultan Zaurbek (10-0, 7) [Султан Заурбек], who takes on Scotland's Ronnie Clark (21-4-2, 10), Talgat Shayken (4-0, 2) [Талгат Шайкен], who faces Russian fighter Alexander Sharonov (12-5-2, 6), and a string of other promising Kazakh prospects, who are yet to have their opponents for the show confirmed.
Back in January MTK Global announced a series of shows taking place in Dubai under their "Dubai Fight Series". One of the most interest parts of the announcement was that Filipino legend Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) was set to fight on the third of those shows, set for April 3rd, though he had no opponent named at the time of the announcement.
The bout was set to be the first for Nietes since his split decision win over Kazuto Ioka at the very end of 2018, which saw him win the WBO Super Flyweight title.
The win over Ioka saw Nietes become only the third man in history to win world titles at 105lbs, 108lbs, 112lbs and 115lbs, following Leo Gamez and Roman Gonzalez. Sadly however the Filipino star failed to build on that win, vacating the title and later becoming a free agent, when ALA Gym Closed it's doors last year. That later lead him to signing with D4G Promotions and MTK, hence him being placed on the April show.
Today we finally found out who Nietes would be facing in April, with Ian Melodillar informing us that Nietes would be up against the unbeaten Orlando Penalba (10-0, 2), from Panama,
Given he's been out of the ring for more than 2 years we weren't expecting anyone too notable for Nietes here, but we'll admit that Penalba isn't someone we're too familiar with. What is known is that he's a 27 year old, dubbed "El Jaguar", who has never previously fought outside of Panama. So far he's yet to face a recognisable opponent, though he has taken the 0's of Angel Mojica, then 5-0, and Keiver Fernandez, then 20-0-1. He has also picked up the WBO Latino Super Flyweight title. Those wins have done enough to earn him world rankings with the WBO (#13) and WBA (#15), at Super Flyweight.
From the footage of him that's out there he doesn't look too spectacular, though he certainly knows his way around the ring, has a nice jab and decent speed. Sadly though he has been fighting at such a low level that it's hard to read much into his performances so far.
Given Penalba's world rankings a win over him would move Nietes towards a world title fight, however the Filipino is now 38, and that's ancient for a fighter in the lower weights, and he is also coming into the ring after more than 2 years away, so it is very hard to know what he has in the tank. If he's half the fighter he once was he should win this easily, but that is, of course, a big "if".
Earlier today MTK Global announced they had signed a deal to advise unbeaten Kazakh fighter Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-0-0-2, 14) [Батыржан Джукембаев], who they also announce is now going to be managed by Rick Mirigian.
The world ranked Kazakh built his name as a professional with Eye of the Tiger Management in Canada, who got him into the world rankings with the IBF, WBC and WBA and seemed to have him on the verge of something big. Despite that he had been speaking about wanting to fight in the US for a while, and that seems to be the plan for his future with MTK.
In the press release to announce the signing the 29 year old Jukembayev was quoted as saying:
"I am glad to be joining forces with Rick Mirigian and a big brand like MTK Global for the the next stage of my career. I’ve had great fights so far and now I feel ready to showcase my skills on the world stage.
“I’m a crafty southpaw from Kazakhstan who is 18-0 with 14 knockouts, so I promise to give exciting fights to the fans. Follow me to see some great boxing.
“I’ve come to America to fight the best. I’m confident that with my team and MTK Global behind me we will get a title shot soon.”
It seems that it's not just the fighter with big plans as his new manager, Rick Mirigian also quoted in the press release, stating:
“Batyr has flown under the radar but at 18-0 with 14 KOs and ranked in the top 10 across the board at 140lbs, his time has come for the big stage.
“He now lives in the USA, trains with coach Manny Robles, has MTK Global on board as his advisors and I look forward to working with them all, and with Camille and Eye of The Tiger who developed him and have done an incredible job to secure him some big fights soon.
“I think we have a possible Triple GGG here on our hands in the future.”
Interestingly it appears from the comments by Rick Mirigian that Jukembayev will continue to work with Eye of the Tiger Management, with MTK adding to the team that are guiding the unbeaten Kazakh.
As for his next bout, it's yet to be announced, though there have been rumours that he will be on a ShoBox card at some point in 2021. That would be the ideal way for Jukembayev to announce himself to a US audience.
Just moments ago MTK Global Boxing announced their "Dubai Fight Series", which will consist of 3 shows in Dubai. The cards aren't fully fleshed out, but there are a number of Asian fighters set to be involved in the shows.
The first card, set for February 6th, doesn't appear to have an Asian fighter but the follow up show, in March 12th, is set to feature two Kazakh fighters.
One of those Kazakh's will be the unbeaten Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) [Жанкош Тураров], who will take on Northern Irish fighter Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6) in what looks like a very interesting match up. For Turarov this will be his first bout since July 2019, when he stopped Mauro Maximiliano Godoy, and despite likely being the favourite "Da Kazakh Kid" is now 30 and appears to missed the boat on becoming a true contender. McKenna on the other is also 30 and is looking to bounce back from a September 2020 loss to Ohara Davies. McKenna is typically a fun fighter to watch and his energy and work rate could give Turarov fits.
Another Kazakh on that same card is Viktor Kotochigov (12-1, 5) [Виктор Коточигов], who will be looking to bounce back from his October 2020 loss to Maxi Hughes. His opponent will be the unbeaten Irishman Gary Cully (11-0, 5). On paper this is a very, very even match up and should be a compelling one, especially with Kotochigov looking to bounce back from his first defeat.
Despite the two Kazakh fighters being set to fight on March 12th the really interesting part of the MTK announcement was their April show, set for April 3rd, which will feature two Filipino fighters.
One of those will be 26 year old hopeful Albert Pagara (33-1, 23), who will be looking to build on his current 7 fight winning run. His opponent hasn't been named, though fingers crossed it's a step up from his recent bouts against the likes of Lucky Tor Buamas and George Krampah.
The other will be the long awaited return to the ring of Filipino legend Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23), who hasn't been seen in the ring since defeating Kazuto Ioka way back in December 2018 to claim the WBO Super Flyweight title and become a 4-weight world champion. Sadly Nietes's inactivity since then has seen him become a forgotten man, and he turns 39 in May, an ancient age for a Super Flyweight. It is great to see Nietes' return to the ring being confirmed, though it is way, way over-due.
As with Pagara Nietes's opponent wasn't announced, though we suspect it will be a bit of a gimmie for "Ahas", who deserves an easy bout to shake some ring rust before a big bout later in the year.
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.
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