This coming weekend is a packed one with action, as boxing continues to build it's momentum and slowly returns to something resembling normal. With that in mind we had a few options for this week's "One to Watch", however we did go with the obvious on from the US on Saturday night! It's the obvious choice but it's a good choice as the one to make sure you watch this week!
The One to Watch?
Israil Madrimov (5-0, 5) vs Eric Walker (20-2, 9)
August 15th (Saturday)
There are a few reasons to be really excited about this contest. Not only does the bout feature one of the sports most exciting rising hopefuls but it's also a world title eliminator and a chance to see questions asked of a man many are tipping for the top. The bout will also, potentially, see the fast tracked hopeful needing to show what he can do against a durable and world ranked foe.
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov is widely regarded as a nailed on future world champion. The talented Uzbek was a stand out amateur who turned professional in 2018, fighting in a 10 rounder straight away, and since then has marched up the rankings towards a world title shot. So far he has stopped all 5 of his opponents and barely lost a round so far. His total professional career has lasted just 25 rounds and he already been linked to world title fights.
Blessed with freakish power, speed and athleticism Madrimov is one of the most young fighters in the sport, and the 25 year old looks ready for big things. There are however questions for Madrimov to answer still, such as questions regarding his chin, his stamina and his ability to move to plan B when he can't hurt an opponent. Given what he did as an amateur however we think he'll answer those questions with ease, when he's finally asked them.
Eric Walker on the other hand is a 37 year old American veteran who has been a professional since late 2013. Despite turn professional late, at the age of 30, he has managed to carve out a solid career. He won his first 15 bouts, including an upset over Christopher Pearson, before losing a competitive decision to Patrick Day. Walker bounced back from that loss and competed in "The Contender" where he beat John Jackson and John Thompson before losing a razor thin decision to Brandon Adams in the semi-final of "The Contender". Since then he has reeled off 3 straight wins and moved himself in to the WBA rankings.
Coming in to this Madrimov is ranked #2 by the WBA whilst Walker is ranked #6.
What to expect?
We genuinely expect to see Madrimov make a statement here and look to not just win but to look amazing on route to his victory. Walker will however look to play his part and come in to the bout seeking an upset.
Although not the most naturally gifted fighter on there Walker is a deceptive quick and sharp fighter. He's clumsy, and awkward at times, but strong, tough and has under-rated power, with shots coming from some unorthodox angles. He could ask questions of Madrimov early on with those odd shots, but we suspect that by round 4 or 5 he'll be getting used as target practice and be broken down.
Walker is tough, he's never been stopped and went to war later on in his win over Christopher Pearson. Sadly for him however that toughness will see him prolonging his punishment from Madrimov, and getting badly beaten up the longer the bout goes.
We expect Madrimov to show some patience, take a round or two to see what Walker has to offer, then begin to go to town.
The bad news?
Whilst this will be a world title eliminator it's unclear when the winner will get a shot at a world title. The WBA Light Middleweight champion is over on PBC and if Madrimov wins, as expected we could end up waiting a while to see him getting a shot. Alternatively we could end up with the WBA playing silly buggers and creating a "new title" to keep things ticking over. Sadly until the WBA sort out the mess they keep creating any WBA "eliminator" will be seen as a bit of a joke.
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.