Most of our "Ones to Watch" are lesser known names, often fighters who on their way but aren't really well known to an international audience. This week is a little bit different as we look at a fight between a former world champion and a man that many suspect will be in the world rankings before the end of 2019. This is more of a bout between two top 50 fighters rather than a fight featuring an upcoming youngster, though one of the two fighters is seen as a prospect.
The One to Watch?
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (16-0-0-2, 14) vs Miguel Vazquez (41-8, 15)
September 26th (Thursday)
It's good to see a prospect step up and move from prospect to contender, and this is clearly what the plan is for Jukembayev. For Vazquez the bout sees him continue to face notable opponents, and in the last 2 years alone he has been in the ring with Josh Taylor, Thulani Mbenge, Ghislain Maduma and Ohara Davies. The unbeaten Kazakh is a hard hitter with a lot of promise, but this is an obvious and clear step up in class, against someone who has the potential to make him look awful. For Vazquez it's a chance to prove that, even at the age of 32 and with 49 bouts behind, he's not done as a notable fighter.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev is an unbeaten 28 year old Canadian based Kazakh boxer-puncher. He's clumsy at times, heavy handed, and very exciting. Sadly after showing some potential to be moved quickly his competition recently has felt like he's been going backwards and he has had issues with with his promotional team, who weren't happy with matching him against another of their fighters. It seems those issues have cleared up, a bit, but Jukembayev is still reportedly wanting to get away and fight in the US.
Miguel Vazquez on the other hand is a former IBF Lightweight champion who has really faced a who's who. We mentioned some of his opponents earlier but other opponents include Saul Alvarez, Timothy Bradley, Breidis Prescott, Ji Hoon Kim, Leonardo Zappavigna, Ameth Diaz and Mickey Bey, among others. He's a proper veteran of the sport, and someone who has long been a nightmare to fight. He's a smart boxer, who lacks power, but has a very good boxing brain, sharp punching and intelligent movement. He's slipped from the fighter he once was, but is still a very capable boxer-mover.
What to expect?
We like seeing aggressive fighters take on back foot fighters, especially when the aggressive fighters have a crude ruggedness to their style and the back foot fighters have the more complete skill set, and that's exactly what we have here. Jukembayev will press, and although he's not an out and out wild fighter he does have rough edges to him, edges that Vazquez can counter and use to his advantages. In a similar fashion Vazquez lacks the 1-punch power to get Jukembayev's respect and the Kazakh will press forward, walking through on to land one.
We'd expecting Jukembayev to, eventually, break down Vazquez in the final rounds of the bout, similar to what Mbenge did to the Mexico. There is however a good chance Jukembayev will be made to look silly at times before getting to his man.
This is a huge test, and a great chance to see just legit Jukembayev really is.
The bad news?
The bout will be a hard one to watch, as most Canadian cards are. They are often behidn paywalls, hiding the bout away from a huge amount of potential fans.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.