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.
This weekend we get a lot of boxing, and we really do mean a lot of boxing. Sadly many of the bouts are looking like mismatches with the bookies, who have many of the bouts as foregone conclusions. Perhaps the most "conclusive" for the bookies is the Light Middleweight match up in Dubai between Kazakh prospects Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] and 34 year old Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13).
This weekend we will see a lot of 1/100 favourites in action, though one bookie prices Kulakhmet at a frankly offensive 1/500 to win here. Thankfully other bookies are a little bit more reasonable with one having the unbeaten Kazakh priced at 1/66. We did say "a little bit more reasonable". As for Rondon, the unbeaten Venezuelan is best priced at 20/1 to pick up the win, and put himself on the boxing map in a big way.
The draw, for those interested, is a huge 33/1.
Obviously with such clear odds on a Kulakhmet win the real focus here will be the "Method of victory" market. For those backing the Kazakh odds of 1/8 on him to score a stoppage should be a lot, lot, more tempting than the 1/66 for him to win. On the other hand for those believing in Rondon's toughness, rather than his skill, a decision for Kulakhment is 11/2.
For those picking the upset, Rondon is 25/1 to win by stoppage and a massive 100/1 to win a decision. In what would be one of the biggest betting shocks in recent memory.
Given how much he bookies are favouring a stoppage for Kulakhmet it's worth noting you can get 1/9 on the bout not going the distance. On the other side of that coin, the bout is 7/1 to see out the schedule and go to the final bell.
Earlier today it was announced that talented Kazakh Light Middleweight Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] will make his first defense of the WBC International Light Middleweight title, which he won last year in the UK with a decision win against Macaulay McGowan.
The exciting Kazakh hopeful will be up against unbeaten 34 year old Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13), with the two men clashing in Dubai on April 3rd, as part of a stacked that also features Jamel Herring defending his WBO Super Featherweight title against Carl Frampton and the long awaited return to the ring of Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23).
The fast rising Kulakhmet looked sensational as an amateur, winning gold at the Asian Championships and bronze at the World Amateur Championships. He also looked very impressive in his professional debut, though looked somewhat predictable and one-paced in his title winning performance against McGowan. We'd be hoping to see a much better from him here, though it is, admittedly, still very early in his career.
As for Rondon he's a bit of a mystery man who has never fought outside of Venezuela, and pretty much non of his opponents have much known about them. His most notable victory came a year ago, when he beat Bryan Medina for a regional title, taking an 11 round decision over the then 14-0 Medina, though Medina himself is something of an unknown quantity.
The bout, for those wanting to watch, will be shown on IFL TV for most of the world and ESPN+ for American fans.
In just his second professional bout sensationally talented Kazakh Light Middleweight Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] claimed his first professional title as he dominated Englishman Macaulay McGowan (14-1-1, 3), to claim the WBC International 154lb title with a unanimous decision.
From the off it seemed like Kulakhmet was there to make a mark and he pressured McGowan, and found the space to land solid straight left hands. McGowan looked like a man who was instantly scared of the man he was in the ring with. Credit goes to McGowan for toughing it out, but was in survival mode from the off, and through the first 3 rounds he pretty much landed nothing. His only real moments of brief respite came when Kulakhmet bullied him to the canvas and got told off by the referee. By then McGowan's face was reddening around the left eye and he was being physically marked up.
By round 4 the bout seemed be very much a case of "how long could McGowan last?" He seemed to be throwing more out of desperation than belief, and was struggling for any sort of success.
In round 5 the action changed slightly. It was still incredibly one sided, but for the first time McGowan was able to get off the ropes and try to do things from the middle of the ring. It made no difference, and he continued to rely on high toughness, and survival instincts than anything else. It was clear that Kulakhmet was wanting to try and entice McGowan to let his hands go, leaving something to counter, but the English gave very few opportunities, in either round 5 or 6, despite taking consistent punishment through out.
Having not been able to take his man out in the first 6 rounds Kulakhmet's frustration was was beginning to show more and more frequently in round 7, whilst McGowan's face was beginning to look increasingly like a mess. Right at the end of the round McGowan hit the canvas, following a leaping right hook and a messy coming together. This time the referee called it a knockdown, giving Kulakhmet his first knockdown of the right.
In round 8 Kulakhmet was deducted a point for pushing McGowan down, for what was the third or fourth time. From there on Kulakhmet continued to try to break down McGowan, but the Englishman managed to survive, and lasted to the bell.
Unsurprisingly all 3 judges had this one 99-89, giving Kulakhmet every round and accounting for the knockdown he scored and the point he was deducted.
Despite the win there was areas where real question marks need to be asked about Kulakhmet. He really lacked offensive variation through the bout, often relying on his power hand and not really using much of his lead hand at all. He also seemed very predictable and didn't move through the gears as he probably should or let shots go on the inside, where he could have had success. On the other hand he has proven he can go 10 rounds, he fought at a steady pace through out, and there are plenty of positives to take from this.
We dare say that Kulakhmet fought within himself here. He seemed like he had more offer than we saw. He also seemed frustrated by the fact that a man who was supposed to test him decided to survive, rather than fight, making for an ugly contest overall. Credit to McGowan for taking the beating he took, but in reality we expected more ambition from a man entering the ring with a 14-0-1 record.
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