On Friday night in the US we'll see IBF and WBA Super Bantamweight king Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7) [Муроджон Ахмадалиев] make his second defense, as he takes on late replacement challenger Jose Velasquez (29-6-2, 19). On Thursday the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest, with both fighters making weight with no issues at all, and both looked in fantastic shape for the bout.
On the scales the champion was 121.8lbs, comfortably under the limit, whilst the challenger was 121.6lbs.
Despite both men weighing very similar weights it did look pretty clear that Akhmadliev was the naturally bigger man, being taller and thicker set. That however should be no real surprise given that Velasquez has typically been fighting as a Bantamweight, and is moving up in weight for this bout.
The contest wasn't the originally planned bout for "MJ" who was scheduled to defend against WBA mandatory challenger Ronny Rios (33-3, 16), who pulled out of the contest due to covid and was replaced on around a weeks notice by Velasquez. The Chilean challenger is a massive under-dog, but 25-1 in his last 26 bouts, and is unbeaten since 2016, whilst also avenging his most recent defeat.
For fans wanting to watch this bout, it will be aired on DAZN as part of a big Matchroom card.
Related - Akhmadaliev returns for second world title defense!
Earlier today Matchroom head honcho Eddie Hearn announced that he and his team had won the WBA purse bid to promote the bout between Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7) [Муроджон Ахмадалиев] and Ronny Rios (33-3, 16).
The bout, which will serve as Akhmadaliev's second defense of his unified WBA "super" and IBF Super Bantamweight titles, was ordered back in April after "MJ" had retained his titles with a TKO win against Japanese challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (27-4, 17) [岩佐 亮佑], in an IBF mandatory defense. On paper it's another solid looking defense a third straight solid bout for Iwasa, who beat Daniel Roman for the titles, defended against Iwasa and now has Rios.
As for Rios, the 31 year old American fighter, will be getting his second world title fight, having previously lost a close one to Rey Vargas for the WBC Super Bantamweight title. On his day Rios is a tough out for anyone in the division, though he can also make some slip ups and losses to Robinson Castellanos and Azat Hovhannisyan have shown his chin isn't the best. Despite his losses the American also has some very good wins to his names, including victories over Jayson Velez, Diego De La Hoya and Oscar Negrete.
Given the styles of the two men involved, this should be a genuinely thrilling bout, but it's fair to say that Akmadlaiev will be strongly favoured to pick up the win and retain his titles.
A date will be announced shortly by Matchroom and fingers crossed it's part of a big card, either in a co-featuire role, or has a strong under-card.
Earlier this month we reported that Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7) [Дычко Иван] would be returning on November 30th. It's now been confirmed that his next outing has actually been brought forward and instead he will be fighting on November 24th, as part of a card headlined by WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol battling Jean Pascal.
Dychko's bout at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood will be a 6 rounder and although we've not yet been told who his opponent will be we are hoping for a step up in class , given his competition so far has been dreadful. He's a talented fighter who needs to be tested sooner rather than later.
Interesting Dychko is one of a number of Central Asian fighters on the card, along with Shakhram Giyasov (5-0, 4) [Shahram G‘iyosov], Isrial Madrimov (0-0) [Isroil Madrimov] and Murodjon Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3) [Ахмадалиев, Муроджон Кахарович], all of whom are expected to become big stars in the coming years.
(Image courtesy of Vesti.kz/boxer team photos)
On November 24th we'll see Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11) [дмитрий бивол] defending his WBA Light Heavyweight title against Haitian born Canadian Jean Pascal (33-5-1-1, 20). That's an interesting bout, though one where the champion will be strongly favoured. What's more interesting however is the fact the under-card will feature a trio of Uzbek fighters.
One of those Uzbek's is 2016 Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (5-0, 4) [Shahram G‘iyosov], who is expected to fight in a 6 rounder though his opponent hasn't yet been named. Another fighter yet to have his opponent named is the debuting Isrial Madrimov (0-0) [Isroil Madrimov], who is expected to make his debut in a 10 round bout at Light Middleweight. If that ends up happening we'll expect to see him being put on fast track to the top.
The other Uzbek is Murodjon Akhmadaliev (4-0, 3) [Ахмадалиев, Муроджон Кахарович], who takes on the once beaten Alexander Mejia (11-1, 5) in a battle between world ranked fighters. The unbeaten Uzbek is ranked #6 by the WBA whilst Meija is ranked #12 by the same body. It's worth noting that the Nicaraguan's only loss came in Japan to Hiroshige Osawa, by narrow decision. The winner here will be within touching distance of a shot at WBA Super Bantamweight champion Danny Roman, though both would be the under-dog against the American champion.
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