On Friday in the UK we saw a notable upset as touted Kazakh hopeful Tursynbay Kulakhmet (4-1, 3) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] suffered a surprise loss to Dominican puncher Juan Carlos Abreu (24-6-1, 22).
The bout was, on paper, a good step up for Kulakhmet who was looking to make his second defense of the WBC International title at 154lbs, the title he had won just under a year ago when he beat Macaulay McGowan. It was a step up, but it seemed a very reasonable one from his victories over McGowan and Aleksei Evchenko.
It seemed even more reasonable in round 2 when Kulakhmet dropped Abreu, and seemed well on the way to a victory. In fact after dropping his man he went for the finish, tagging Abreu on the restart before taking a hard counter shot himself, which buckled his legs and really seemed to destroy a lot of his confidence. The swagger that we had seen from him in the past seemed to sap out of him, and although he looked the better boxer in rounds 3, and 4, he looked different. He looked timid and unsure of himself.
By round 6 Kulakhmet looked back in control of things, and was comfortably up on the scorecards as it seemed he was going to box his way to a win. A win that Abreu was determined to deny him, and in round 7 the power of Abreu turned the fight as he dropped Kulakhmet. The Kazakh beat the count but was hurt, and Abreu smelled blood sending him down for a second time just moments later. This time the Kazakh was out, with the bout being stopped, with Abreu scoring the biggest win of his career so far, and really resurrecting his career as a contender.
Earlier today we had an MTK show from Kazakhstan featuring some of the most notable emerging Kazakh talent in the pro ranks, including a talented but forgetten Heavyweight giant, and several very exciting prospects.
After more than 2 years away from the ring we saw the, long over-due, return to action for Kazakh Heavyweight giant Ivan Dychko (10-0, 10) [Дычко Иван], sadly however he was required for little more than a cameo as he easily stopped veteran Denis Bakhtov (39-19, 26).
Dychko found his jab almost instantly, not looking at all rusty, and landed a big right hand early on. Bakhtov took it well before a brilliant 1-2 from Dychko dropped the Russian veteran, and the referee quickly waved off the bout, with Bakhtov's legs twitching on the canvas. Thankfully Bakhtov quickly regained control of his body, but this was his 11th stoppage loss, and it seems clear that he should hang them up at the age of 41.
As for Dychko he now needs an actual test. Fights like this do nothing for his development, and he needs a genuine fight, especially given he is now 30 years old and has been a professional for around 4 years!
In an impressive, and fan friendly, performance talented youngster Talgat Shayken (5-0, 3) [Талгат Шайкен] stopped Russian fighter Alexander Sharonov (12-6-2, 6) in the 7th round. Shayken looked really good at times, and like a potential star of the future, but at other times his inexperience showed through, and it's clear he's a work in progress. In saying that however he looks like he has the tools and the building blocks to develop from and in 3 or 4 years there's a real chance he'll be on the fringes of a world title fight.
Sadly for Nurtas Azhbenov (11-1, 4) [Нуртас Ажбенов] he failed to build on a good start as he was knocked out in 3 rounds by Isa Chaniev (15-3, 7). In round 1 Azhbenov managed to dropped his man, but in round a massive right cross from Chaniev caught him hard on the chin, and sent the previously unbeaten Kazakh fighter down hard. In many ways it was a loss that seemed inevitable for Azhbenov who has often looked like someone who hasn't really adapted to the professional ranks, though we're genuinely surprised by just how brutal this KO was from Chaniev, who is unlikely to ever land a better shot.
In the chief support bout we saw the hugely skilled Tursynbay Kulakhmet (4-0, 3) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] picked up his latest win as he stopped the tough and rugged Aleksei Evchenko (19-15-2, 8).
This looked like it was going to be a quick day at the office for Kualkhmet, who dropped his man in opening 90 seconds, but Evchenko gritted it out, toughed out some real hard moments, and showed why he has been one of the most notable journeymen in Europe. Round after round Evchenko would take punishment, withstand it, and fire back whilst being tagged at will. The Russian was losing pretty much every minute of every round, but doing enough to survive. That was until late in round 10, when the Kazakh fighter let his shots go, hurting Evchenko and forcing the referee to jump in and save the brave 38 year old Russian.
For Evchenko this is just his second stoppage loss, and for Kulakhmet it was the perfect performance, as he got rounds under his belt and got a stoppage against a very determined and experienced opponent.
The main event then saw Sultan Zaurbek (11-0, 7) [Султан Заурбек] battle against Scotland's Ronnie Clark (21-5-2, 10) in a bout for the WBO European Super Featherweight title.
The bout saw the talented Kazakh fight within himself for much of the fight, out boxing the game but outclassed Clark for much of the fight. Things were made harder for Clark when an eye injury saw him taken to the ringside doctor, though the doctor saw no issues and allowed the bout to go on after a very brief inspection. Clarke continually proved he was tough, but he lacked the sharpness and the speed of Zaurbek who really did run up the rounds without many problems.
In the final round Zaurbek seemed to go for a stoppage, but Clarke's toughness prevented a finish and instead Zaurbek was happy to hear the final bell and take a very, very clear decision win over the game "Shark".
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.
One of the most notable shows today took place in Dubai, and features several Asian fighters, including a hotly tipped prospect and a 4-weight world champion, returning after more than 2 years out of the ring.
The opening bout was a total mismatch with unbeaten Kazakh Tursynbay Kulakhmet (3-0, 2) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] successfully defending his WBC International Light Middleweight title in a "blink and you miss it" bout.
The talented Kazakh dropped the 34 year old Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-1, 13) very early on and it seemed the referee gave Rondon a very liberal 10 count. He the Venezuelan one of the slowest counts in history. It didn't matter as Rondon and Kulakhmet met center ring when the bout resumed and within seconds Kulakhmet caught his man with a counter right hook, sending him crashing to the ring, face first, with his body contorting in the air. It was among the most brutal KO's we've seen this year.
The first knockdown came after about 50 seconds, the count for Rondon lasted about 15, and it took just seconds for Rondon to be back on the canvas with the referee waving the bout off.
The second bout saw Fahad Al Bloushi (4-1, 1), from Dubai, take a decision victory against Indian fighter Suraj (2-2, 1). This 4 round novice bout was fairly entertaining, but it seemed like Bloushi was always a bit too big and too strong for Suraj, who gave a very legitimate effort but was often coming off second best.
The final Asian on the broadcast was returning Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-5, 23), who was returning to the ring for the first time in over 2 years. Up against him was game Colombian fighter Pablo Carrillo (25-8-1, 16), with both men looking to claim the vacant WBO International Super Flyweight title.
Early on Nietes looked somewhat rusty, yet still savvy. Not a surprise given his. As the bout went on however he shook that ring rust, found his groove and began to show flashes of his old brilliance. He picked his shots well, for the most part, controlled the action and dictated the tempo as, and when, he wanted.
To his credit Carrillo wasn't there to roll over, and lose. In fact the Colombian landed some really nice body shots at times and showed plenty of ambition. Sadly though there was a lack of class to his work, and when he landed it was one shot here and one shot there. With Nietes it was regular success, and when he landed his biggest shots they really caught the eye. In the final few rounds Nietes really did look very good, counter punching, soaking up the pressure of Carrillo and landing clean, accurate shows, whilst making Carrillo miss.
Sadly with Nietes controlling the bout, it felt very much like a damp squib of a contest. It lacked drama, it lacked excitement, and it was more about Nietes shaking some ring rust and getting a win, rather than entertaining and exciting.
After 10 rounds we went to the judges who all had Nietes winning, with scores of 96-95, 98-92 and 99-91, and is now the new WBO International Super Flyweight champion.
Tomorrow Dubai plays host to an interesting card from MTK, which features not only an excellent main event but also a trio of bouts featuring notable Asian fighters.
The card will be headlined by Jamel Herring (22-2, 10) defending his WBO Super Featherweight title against the hugely popular Carl Frampton (28-2, 16). Although not a bout featuring an Asian fighter the bout is certainly that has our interesting and should be a compelling bout that has notable impact on the division. On the scales Herring was 129.4lb whilst Frampton, looking for a world title in a third weight class, was 129.9lbs.
Of more interest to us are the 3 supporting bouts featuring Asian fighters. These include a very interesting match up at 140lbs between unbeaten Kazakh Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) [Жанкош Тураров] and Northern Irishman Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6). On the scales McKenna was 139.6lbs whilst Turarov requested extra time to weigh in, before finally hitting the scales at 140lbs. That extra time suggested he was struggling to boil down and that could play an important role in their bout. Especially given his recent inactivity and various activities outside of the ring.
Another unbeaten Kazakh on this show is the highly touted Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) [Турсынбай Кулахмет], who will be defending his WBC International Light Middleweight title against 34 year old Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13). Both of these men made weight with no issues. On the scales Kulakhmet, who one British bookies priced as a 1/500 favourite, was 153.9lbs whilst Rondon was 153.7lbs for the bout.
The most interesting of the Asian inclusion's on this show is Filipino legend Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23), who fights for the first time since the end of 2018, when he beat Kazuto Ioka in Macau. He'll be up against Colombian fighter Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16) in a bout for the WBO International Super Flyweight title. On the scales both men made the 115lb limit with nothing to worry about. Nietes was 114.9lbs whilst Carrillo was 114.6lbs. Despite being 38 and returning to the ring after more than 2 years out Nietes looked in genuinely decent shape and didn't look like an old inactive fighter at the weight.
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