The Welterweight scene is a rather frustrating one right now with the top fighters in the division being split by promotional divides. Whilst the PBC certainly have most of the big names in the division Top Rank has arguably the best boxer in the division, Terence Crawford. Sadly for Crawford he's lacking noteworthy challengers and Top Rank will need to provide better for him than the likes of Amir Khan if they intend to test their man.
One potential future foe for Crawford is talented Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9), who returns to the ring on October 18th to take on former WBA world champion Luis Collazo (39-7, 20). The two fighters will both be looking to put in an impressive performance and secure themselves a big fight, but just how do we see this going? Can the Uzbek continue his unbeaten run or will the veteran of Collazo prove to be to much for him?
For those who haven't seen Abdukakhorov the 26 year old Uzbek is a genuine talent, who has mostly fought outside of the eye of the Western fans. His early bouts were mostly in Uzbekitan before he started moving around, picking up wins in Singapore, Malaysia and Russia before making his US debut this past March. During his unbeaten run he has scored a lot of solid, though unspectacular, wins, beating the likes of Charles Manyuchi, Dmitry Mikhaylenko, Laszlo Toth and Keita Obara, with the win over Obara coming in his US debut earlier this year.
In recent years we've seen a number of explosive Uzbek fighters turning professional with really exciting and powerful styles. Abdukakhorov however isn't that style of fighter. He's not the Welterweight version of Bektemir Melikuziev or Israil Madrimov, instead he's a solid technical boxer, with good work rate and smart ring control. He's not exciting, he's not explosive and he's spectacular to watch, but he's solid, accurate, consistent and smart. He can vary his output and tempo well, but in reality he's not a fighter to take undue risks, and will instead look to simply win the rounds rather than to destroy his opponents. Given his hard to spell, and pronounce, name, and his uninspiring style Abdukakhorov is unlikely to ever become a fan favourite, but he's a fighter who will never be easy to beat and has the tools to give anyone, outside of the very best in the division, a very, very tough night.
Collazo is a true veteran, who debuted back in 2000, and with 46 pro bouts under his belt it's fair to say he's seen a lot during his career. He's faced a genuine who's who, including Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Andre Berto, Victor Ortiz, Amir Khan and Keith Thuman. On paper Collazo's record doesn't look great, but given his competition there was always going to be losses, and several of those were rather unfortunate, including his losses to Hatton and Berto. Through his career Collazo has always been a very smart southpaw fighter, with slippery movement, under-rated power and very smart ring IQ. He's never been the busiest fighter, but he's a crafty one who is defensively smart and lands good counter shots, and even as he's gotten older he's remained a composed and smart fighter who controls the tempo of fights well.
Although a very good fighter, still, Collazo is notably behind the top fighters in the division. and loses to Khan, in 204, and Thurman, in 2015, did show he was on the slide. He's prolonged his career by not being hugely active, and he's fought only 5 bouts in the last 5 years, but he is still 38 with almost 300 pro rounds under his belt, and a lot of his bouts have been gruelling, hard ones, win or lose.
We expect Collazo to ask genuine questions of Abdukakhorov, he has the skills to really test the Uzbek. The difference however will be the stage of the career's the two men are in. Collazo is coming to the end whilst Abdukakhorov is just about hitting his prime. We suspect that that will the difference, and in the later stages of the fight Abdukakhorov's youth will win out, and he'll take the decision in a hard fought but fair win.
We have a feeling that Collazo is the perfect opponent to test Abdukakhorov, and to make the Uzbek earn a win, but it will be a well earned win for Abdukakhorov.
Prediction UD10 Abdukakhorov
On March 30th we'll see an IBF Welterweight title eliminator take place in the US featuring two Asian fighters, with unbeaten Uzbek Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 9) taking on Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18). On paper this is a mouth watering match up, and we're genuinely excited to see the two men clashing.
Of the two men the more naturally talented boxer, by far, is the 25 year old Abdukakhorov. He's a fantastic boxer with good clean punching, a good work rate, lovely accuracy and ring craft. There is a lack of real power, despite a very notable stoppage win over Charles Manyuchi, but he hits solidly with every punch and fighters will certainly his shots even if they aren't concussive blows.
The Uzbek was a solid amateur before turning professional in 2015. His first few fights were at home in Uzbekistan but before long he had began fighting through Asia with bouts in Malaysia and Singapore. It was those bouts that really saw him building his reputation, scoring solid wins over Larry Siwu, Adones Cabalquinto and the aforementioned Manyuchi. As well as those wins he has also travelled to Russia, where he clearly out pointed Dmitry Mikhaylenko, in what is arguably his most impressive win to date. For the most part it's been his sharp technical boxing which has won him fights, and allowed him to become a top, if often over-looked, contender.
Whilst the Uzbek is the better boxer Obara is the bigger puncher, by far. In fact the Tokyo based 32 year old is one of the best pure punchers in Asia. Sadly he's a bit of a glass cannon and all 3 of his losses have come by stoppage. Whilst his first loss, on debut against Kazuyoshi Kumano, was down to stamina and pacing, subsequent losses to Eduard Troyanovsky and Alvin Lagumbay were KO losses and spectacular ones at that. We're not going to suggest he has no chin, but it does seem like he doesn't react well when caught cleanly.
Whilst Obara does have a questionable chin he is a solid boxer-puncher and clearly will know that another loss will be the end of his world title dreams. He can't afford another set back, he will be fully focused and sometimes that's not the best thing. That can cause extra tension and take a fighter out of their natural gameplan. We don't think that'll be the case here, it's a still possible.
What we're expecting here is a tactical contest, with Abdukakhorov looking to get in and out, controlling the tempo and distance, making the most of his footwork, his jab and his boxing brain. He'll be wanting to set the higher pace and stop Obara from getting behind his jab. Although not as good a boxer, Obara's skills shouldn't be under-rated and he can box to a high level, so the Uzbek will want to be the one setting the pace, and not let Obara get relaxed.
We suspect that Abdukakhorov will set a high pace and will outbox Obara, but will have some hairy moments along the way, when he does get caught, does feel the power of Obara and does get forced to retreat and recover. The Uzbek might get staggered, or even dropped, but we does feel he'll do more than enough to take home the win, by decision and move onto a world title fight later in the year.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.