Earlier today in Bolton, England, we saw Kazakh fighter Viktor Kotochigov (12-2, 5) [Виктор Коточигов] suffer his second straight loss as he was taken out, in style, by unbeaten Irishman Gary Cully (12-0, 6), who scored one of the most impressive and eye catching stoppages of the year so far.
The tall, lanky, long and rangy Cully dictated the tempo from the off. Cully's reach kept Kotochigov at range for the most part, with the sharp jab and good southpaw left hands landing regularly through the opening round. Sadly for Kotochigov he never looked comfortable at trying to cut the range and never figured out the reach of Cully, who looked loose, relaxed and like a man who couldn't miss. In fact it looked like it was almost a given that this was going to be a very painful night for the Kazakh fighter.
In round 2 Cully continued to dominate the action until he landed a gorgeous, straight left hand that dropped Kotochigov to the seat of his pants. It was a wonderful shot, but it looked like one that Kotochigov would be able to get up from. In fact Kotochigov made a genuine attempt to get up. Or more accurately, several attempts to get up, but could only muster a baby like crawl as his legs and body seemed to be like jelly.
With Kotochigov unable to even get close to getting himself upright the referee waved off the bout, giving Cully the TKO win, and giving Kotochigov his second successive loss, his first by stoppage. Sadly for the once touted Kotochigov this is almost certainly the end of any world title hopes he may have had, whilst the win massively boosts Cully's career, and saw him capture the WBO European Lightweight title in sensational fashion.
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.
Just moments ago from Dubai we saw the previously unbeaten Kazakh Victor Kotochigov (12-1, 5) [Виктор Коточигов] suffer his first defeat, thanks to inspired Englishman Maxi Hughes (22-5-2, 4).
The opening round was a good one for Kotochigov, who looked sharp in control. Sadly though things quickly turned on it's head with the Kazakh being rocked in round 2 by Hughes. Hughes then built on the success he had in round 2 by dropping Kotochigov in round 3, and seemed on the verge of a stoppage as the referee stepped between the two men. It seemed like he was stopping the bout, but instead seemed to just buy Kotochigov a few seconds to recover before the bell.
Although Kotochigov got through round 3 he was in trouble again in round 4, as his chin was caught over, and over.
With a stoppage looking imminent for Hughes we then saw the bout swing as the Englishman got over eager and as Kotochigov cleared his head. That allowed the Kazakh a chance to build some momentum of his own in rounds 5 and 6, which were much better rounds for him.
Sadly for Kotochigov it was too little too late, and it was also something that he couldn't sustain, with Hughes putting his foot on the gas late on. By doing so he put the decision beyond doubt as we reached the final bell.
After 10 rounds we went to the score cards, which all favoured Hughes, who rightfully got the win and became the new WBC International Lightweight champion.
For Kotochigov this is a major set back, and sees him losing his WBC minor title and his unbeaten record. It will, however, serve as a lesson and should teach him that improvements need to be made, offensively and defensively.
As for Hughes, this was a second big win for him this year, following a victory in August over Jono Carrol, and his career is certainly going in the right direction after some hard set backs in the past. It's unlikely he'll manage to win a world title, but he's certainly opened the door to a big fight in the near future.
Later today we'll get the chance to see unbeaten Kazakh Victor Kotochigov (12-0, 5) [Виктор Коточигов] face off with the criminally under-rated Maxi Hughes (21-5-2, 4), from England. The match is a pretty under-the-radar one, but is a very compelling match up and one of the many that haven't got the attention they deserve.
Yesterday the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout and both men hit the scales at the 135lbs Lightweight limit.
The bout, which will take place in Dubai, will see the Kotochigov defending his WBC International Lightweight title for the second time, as he looks to move closer and closer to a world title fight. As for Hughes the bout is a chance to build on an upset win over Jono Carroll, who he beat via decision in August.
For fans wanting to watch this it will be aired on iFL TV for many fans, but it's also been confirmed that the show will be televised in Kazakhstan, thanks to Setanta Qazaqstan TV who will eb airing the bout form 10PM local time.
Interesting the bookies, who were surprised by Hughes' win over Carroll, have again got him as the under-dog here. The Englishman is a 7/4 under-dog in this bout whilst the unbeaten Kotochigov is best priced at 1/2. The draw can be found around 14/1.
Earlier today MTK Kazakhstan shared the poster for the next show in the "Rotunda Rumble" series, and announced that the card would feature unbeaten Kazakh Victor Kotochigov (12-0, 5) [Виктор Коточигов] going up against unheralded Englishman Maxi Hughes (21-5-2, 4) in the main event.
The show, set to take place at The Rotunda at Ceasars Palace in Dubai, will take place on October 9th and will see Kotochigov defending the WBC International Lightweight title against Hughes, with the winner taking a huge step towards getting involved in the WBC world title picture.
The unbeaten Kazakh has been a fighter who has shown glimpses of real potential but at times has been a frustrating man to follow. He's a genuine talent and is well schooled but at times his performances can very much feel like a man going through the motions, rather than a man looking to impress. Thankfully he did look very good last time out, stopping Andrei Isayeu in 3 rounds, but that was his first stoppage in 4 bouts after some rather dreary decisions wins.
As for Hughes he comes into the bout on the back of a big upset win against former world title challenger Jono Carroll. He's often been one of the over-looked men of British boxing, and despite having 5 losses to he's name he's a handful on the British scene. We suspect he will be the under-dog against the unbeaten Kazakh, but should be regarded as a very live under-dog here.
For fans wanting to watch this it will be aired on ESPN+ in the US and on IFL TV for the rest of the world.
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