In December we are going to be sharing our "20 for 20", a list of 20 fighters to keep an eye on for the new year. Ahead of that we will be looking at a number of fighters who just missed out on that list.
These are the fighters who perhaps won't be ready for a world title by the end of next year, but we feel will make a mark in the year, and go on to do big things in the following year or two. Typically they are the prospects who perhaps need a little more time to develop, or who are still a bit too young for the big fights, or maybe just don't seem like they are quite there yet. These are our "Honourable mentions - 20 for 20" fighters and these will be posted daily until the start of December!
Galim Shagatay (5-0, 5)
One thing we are seeing a lot from Central Asian prospects is aggressive match making and fighters moving through the rankings quickly. One man who has moved quickly in 2019 is Galim Shagatay, a 21 year old Kazakh prospect who debuted in February and has already squeezes in 5 fights and won his first title. Impressive he has done all that in a combined 14 fights and already looks like someone worth taking a serious note of, even if his competition hasn't been the toughest so far. The talented youngster is well schooled but also fun to watch, and brings smart, educated pressure, good body punching and a tight defense. Back in October he stepped up to face the unbeaten Pele Sadoyan and showed enough tools in his arsenal to break down the Georgian and take his biggest win to date. That win wasn't a flawless display, though we can't imagine many 4-0 fighters putting in flawless showings, but was a great sign of what the young Kazakh had in his arsenal already. Like many Central Asian fighters he looks to put his punches through his opponents, and he has impressive variety in the way he uses his jab. There is still a touch of robotic stiffness to him, but that looks likely to be ironed out by the time he starts to face real tests and he is looking like someone who is only 2 or 3 years from making a mark at a much higher level.
Expectations for 2020?
With only 5 bouts under his belt there is no point in talking Shagatay up as being on the verge of a world title fight for a while yet, but we do expect to see him show a lot more of what he can do in 2020. We'd like to see him in with a tough fighter from the Soviet block, to help him get some solid rounds, and build on his experience through the year. The expectancy isn't for him to be making a big mark any time soon, but if he can show constant improvement, take on better opponents and smooth out some of his stiffness then there is a real chance for him to be looking at big fights sooner rather than later.
Although Shagatay is fighting out of Russia at the moment we would love to see him make his US debut in 2020 and show what he can to a new audience, as he does look like another very exciting Central Asian prospect that the US fans could take to fairly easily. We however would want him to get another couple of fights away from the US audience before travelling over the Atlantic, just to give him a bit more time to polish off some his flaws.
We've included Shagatay's bout with Pele Sadoyan below for those who want to see what the then 4-0 young did last time out.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features