When we do this weekly series of Treasure Trove bouts we’ve always wanted to have a mix between well known bouts, such the attention grabbing world title contests that some fans may have missed out one, as well as the less well known and obscure bouts that few outside of the hardcore would have seen. This week we certainly look to focus on a more obscure bout, but still a sensational one, that took place in Russia back in August.
Erzhan Turgumbekov (8-0-1, 2) vs Albert Batyrgaziev (1-0, 1)
In one corner was 25 year old Erzhan Turgumbekov, an unbeaten Russian based fighter from Kyrgyzstan, who had debuted in 2018 and built himself a decent little record after just 9 bouts. The most noteworthy thing on his record was a very good win over Heorhii Lashko in 2019, but he had also been putting in solid performance against lesser opponents and was generating a little bit of buzz for himself.
In the opposite corner was Russian amateur standout Albert Batyrgaziev, who was a truly outstanding young amateur. Coming into this fight he was 22 years old and had only made his professional debut a few weeks earlier, when he had beaten Armen Ataev in 7 rounds. As an amateur he had proven himself as a skilled and aggressive fighter, but there were question marks as to why, with the day before weigh in, he was fighting at 130lbs, when he seemed like he could make 122lbs. The reality, if we’re being honest, is like the fact he wanted to be developed quickly as a professional and be tested against bigger, stronger men.
Unlike many bouts there absolutely no feeling out process here, the two men started fast with both looking to establish their busy, crisp, clean jabs. Throughout the opening round both men had success, but the bigger, heavier shots seemed to come from the wiry frame of Batyrgaziev, who looked incredibly composed for a man who had only had 7 professional rounds to his name. The entire first round was fought at a great pace, it was technical, clean and efficient boxing from both, but it was highly entertaining, with both men fully aware of how to box, and how to do so in an aggressive manner.
The tempo continued to be quick through round 2, though both men began to trade more on the inside. It was still high quality action, from both, but rather than keeping at range, they were now working their way inside, and letting hooks and uppercuts fly. With 2 minutes of the round gone we finally got the first clinch, but it was a short one, with the referee splitting them quickly and letting the high intensity action resume almost immediately. The only disappointing thing was the fact that neither man seemed to have the power to actually hurt the other, though both were landing solid amounts of leather.
In round 3 it was getting clear that the skill level between the two men was obvious. Batyrgaziev was much, much more polished, crisp and natural than Turgumbekov, who was landing plenty of shots but was getting caught much more often. Turgumbekov, who looked the naturally bigger, stronger and more powerful man, was often hitting air, being countered and being forced to back up. Despite being tagged a lot, Turgumbekov continued to try and match his more skilled Russian foe, that sadly seemed to just draw out a more determined response from Batyrgaziev, who looked absolutely brilliant for a man in just his 2nd professional bout.
Through the middle rounds the bout had become even more one sided, and the work rate of Batyrgaziev had started to really chip away at Turgumbekov, who looked to break away more often, and seemed to need to spend a bit more time catching his breath. He also had a point deducted in round 6 for a low blow. Unfortunately for Turgumbekov it seemed clear that Batyrgaziev had no intention of letting his foe take a breather and kept the pressure and the tempo high. Not only was the tempo still high in rounds 7 and 8 but the most telling factor was that Turgumbekov was starting to visibly wilt, and seemed to begin coming apart in round 8. The key was Batyrgaziev’s intelligent approach to the action, landing straight shots almost continually when the men were at range. He prevented his foe from ever settling, and completely controlled the rhythm of the action.
In round 9 Batyrgaziev seemed to hurt his man once again, but to his credit Turgumbekov showed heart and determination, digging deep to fight back, trying to summon everything he had to discourage the Russian and turn the action around. Sadly for him it wasn’t nearly enough and the final minute of the round was a really painful one for Turgumbekov, who took a lot of heavy leather. His team could, in fairness, have pulled him out between rounds but let him continue into round 10. A mistake as Batyrgaziev really wanted a stoppage and put his foot hard on the gas in the final round, clobbering his man around with big left hands up top, finally sending his man to the canvas. It was ruled a slip, but Turgumbekov’s legs had gone and only moments later the referee jumped in to save the brave, but beaten Turgumbekov.
This hidden gem is a high quality fight, fought at an amazing tempo. It’s brilliant throughout with few clinches and is up there with the best all-southpaw battles from recent years. It may have lacked a little bit in terms of drama, given that much of the bout was one sided, but in terms of action, skills, determination and entertainment this was brilliant and is a true gem of 2020. You will not regret watching this one.
Just one thing to add, the bout is completely void of commentary, which, in some ways, improves the action and viewing experience. Fingers crossed we’ll see multiple premium services offering a commentary free option over the coming years!
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.