Earlier today in Almaty fans had a special show from MTK to celebrate Kazakh Independence day. For the most part it was a successful day for the fighters from Central Asia, though their was one big upset.
Rather than breaking down the entire card, which had more than 10 bouts on it, we'll discuss some of the most notable bouts on the card.
Among the most notable of the fighters on the card was Victor Kotochigov (11-0, 4) [Виктор Коточигов], who extended his winning run with a 10 round shut out over Argentina's Javier Jose Clavero (27-6, 5), to defended the WBC International Lightweight title. This was Kotochigov's 4th win of the year, and whilst he's clearly a talented fighter his bouts do lack drama and he may end up being a tough man to man fans care about going forward.
In another title bout Sultan Zaurbek (9-0, 7) [Султан Заурбек] became the new WBC Youth Super Featherweight champion as he stopped Chinese fighter Leshan Li (16-4-2, 9) [黎乐善].
Nurtas Azhbenov (8-0, 3) [Нуртас Ажбенов], a man that has shared a lot of cards with Zaurbek, picked up a decision win over Filipino journeyman Landy Cris Leon (13-21-5, 6). Given Leon has been stopped 12 times the worry is that Azhbenov really does lack power, and if we're being honest he hasn't looked the star in the making that Zaurbek has.
The big shock of the night saw Iskander Kharsan (7-1, 6) [Искандер Харсан] suffer his first loss. The touted youngster was dropped twice in the opening round before being stopped in round 3 by British based Cameroonian Thomas Essomba (10-5, 4). Although this may not have looked like an easy win for Kharsan on paper Essomba has made a reputation for himself due to scoring upsets and this is the third "0" he has taken after previously upsetting Waleed Din and Sean McGoldrick.
Others who picked up wins included Elshat Nigmetolla (16-0-1, 5) [Ельшат Нигметолла], Abay Tolesh (5-0, 3) [Абай Толеш], Ray Seitzhanov (2-0) [Рай Сейтжанов], Miras-Ali Sarsenov (2-0, 1) [Мирас-Али Сарсенов] and Nurdos Tolebay (2-0, 1) [Нурдос Толебай], 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (8-1, 5) [Фазлиддин Гаибназаров] and fellow former amateur standout Khurshid Tojibaev (4-0, 2)
On December 16th MTK Kazakhstan will be hosting a special show to celebrate the Kazakh independence day. Originally no fighters were named, and then a lot of fighters were named, pretty much all at once, with a host of interesting and notable names being featured on the card.
The biggest name on the card is not an Asian but instead South African fighter Hekkie Budler (32-4, 10), who is a 2-weight world champion and a bizarre choice to be the the center piece of the poster. A poster that we imagined would be sold hard on the Kazakh fighters. Budler is a solid name, just surprising he it literally the center piece of the poster.
As far as local talent the show is packed with Kazakh hopefuls. This includes Victor Kotochigov (10-0,4) [Виктор Коточигов], Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6) [Искандер Харсан], Sultan Zaurbek (8-0, 6) [Султан Заурбек], Nurtas Azhbenov (7-0, 3) [Нуртас Ажбенов], Elshat Nigmetolla (15-0-1, 5) [Ельшат Нигметолла], Abay Tolesh (4-0, 3) [Абай Толеш], Ray Seitzhanov (1-0) [Рай Сейтжанов], Miras-Ali Sarsenov (1-0, 1) [Мирас-Али Сарсенов] and Nurdos Tolebay (1-0) [Нурдос Толебай]. Whilst their opponents haven't been named this is a pretty strong line up of local prospects, with fighters like Kharsan, Zaurbek and Sarsenov being tipped for major success over the coming years, following strong amateur pedigrees.
As well as the Budler and the Kazakh talent others confirmed for the card include 2016 Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4) [Фазлиддин Гаибназаров], from Uzbekistan, and unbeaten Nigerian Ali Lasisi (Nigeria, 13-0, 8).
Although no bouts have been announced their is a lot of talent already set for this show, and fingers crossed some of the fighters involved will be matched competitively. Sadly though we don't often see many interesting match ups on these MTK shows, despite how talent laden they are.
Fight fans who were expecting to see Kazakhstan hopeful Nurtas Azhbenov (4-0, 1) [Ажбенов Нуртас] fight yesterday would have been hugely disappointed to not see him in action on an MTK Global card. It's now been revealed that his bout with Hamo Aperjan (2-1, 2) was cancelled on the day of the fight with Aperyan deciding not to fight.
According to Vesti the reason for Aperjan not fighting is still unclear, though the bout being cancelled was confirmed by Azhbenov's coach Angel Fernandez.
At the moment there is speculation that the bout will be rescheduled, though we suspect that MTK Global won't be in a rush to use Aperjan again given the short notice pull out. Interestingly this would have been the Armenian born Czech's second bout in the UK, following a November clash with Craig MacIntyre in Glasgow.
Had this bout taken place this would have been Azhbenov's third bout of the year, showing his hectic schedule and the type of activity his team are trying to deliver for him.
Yesterday in Wales fans had the chance to see Kazakh prospect Nurtas Azhbenov (4-0, 1) [Ажбенов Нуртас] record his 4th professional win, as he over-came the tough but limited Chris Adaway (8-51-4, 1) in a 6 round bout.
The bout was Azhbenov's second contest in a week and impressively saw him going 6 rounds for the first time, taking a shut out over over his English foe, who lost a decision for the 45th time in 63 bouts.
Despite dropping Adaway in the second round Azhbenov was unable to stop his man, who ha a reputation as being a tough and reliable journeyman. Whilst few will doubt Adaway's toughness, given his reputation, we do need to wonder whether Azhbenov will be heldd back by his lack of power, and he's only scored a single stoppage in his first 4 bouts. It may be a case that he's wanting to get some rounds early in his career but there is a feeling that he just lacks that real nasty power, despite being a very, very talented young fighter.
Yesterday MTK Global announced that their unbeaten Kazakh pairing of Nurtas Azhbenov (2-0, 1) [Ажбенов Нуртас] and Sultan Zaurbek (3-0, 2) [Заурбек Султан] would be back in action on March 1st in Cardiff, to begin their 2019's.
Originally both men had been pencilled in for bouts on February 22nd in Bethnal Green though those plans have clearly changed.
The two men, who debuted last year after having had stellar amateur careers, havne't yet had their opponents named Vale Sports Arena, though it it known that the bouts will be shown on IFL TV.
We're hoping that both get put in with durable opponents, as they've not yet managed to really rack up rounds, or opponents coming to fight, as they've both had things their own way inside the ring so far. Both are too talented to waste time against low level opposition for much longer.
(Image courtesy of MTK Global)
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