This past weekend was not a great one for Kazakh fighters, with two Kazakh's losing their unbeaten records on Sunday in Kazakh. One of those was the fun to watch Arman Rysbek (7-1, 6) [Арман Рысбек], who retired in his corner after the 4th round Belorussian fighter Mikhail Dauhaliavets (3-0, 3). The bout was a fairly interesting one, despite the loss, and is one worth checking out for fans who missed it.
Despite being a relatively obscure fight we felt it deserved us to take a closer look and share some of our take aways from the bout.
1-The 30 year old Dauhaliavets is one of the hidden gems of European boxing
Followers of amateur boxing will likely be full aware of how good Mikhail Dauhaliavets is, but as a 3-0 (3) professional few will have seen him in the professional ranks. Given his performance here however he is one of the true hidden gems of the Super Middleweight division. He proved to have smart defense, clean accurate punching and he seemed to get better and better as the rounds went on. This was, surprisingly, his third pro bout of the year and the first time he had been taken out of the first round. Fingers crossed that this win helps him secure a meaningful bout before it's too late.
2-Seven Nation Army is over used as a ring walk out track
This is perhaps an unfair complaint but we can't help feeling like "Seven Nation Army" is over-used as a ring walk track. We think it's a great song but feel that it's too closely linked to Gennady Golovkin for it to be played as much as it is. We understand someone like Armen Rysbek using it as homage to GGG but it felt unneeded and we could certainly do without hearing it at every other show. Also we really hope it doesn't become the default song for Kazakh fighters going forward.
For what it's worth we feel the same about "Hells Bells" by AC/DC due to it's links it's Vitali Klitschko, and "Can't Stop" by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, due to Wladimir Klitschko.
3-Social distancing? Not in Kazan!
We've complained about a lack of social distancing in Japan in this series and we're staying consistent here. In fact no, we are going to raise our complaints here. In Japan we've seen masks worn by every fan in the venue, at the Pyramide in Kazan we barely saw anyone wearing masks, a lot that were were wearing them incorrectly, and their was next to no social distancing at all. Given what is going on in the world it would be much, much better to see fans at sport taking things seriously.
Also it was interesting that almost everyone was looking at their phones between fights.
4-Rysbek has a lot of work to do but he is fun to watch
Watching Armen Rysbek in the ring is a joy. He comes forward and makes fights fun and we don't think he'll be in many stinkers. However that joyfulness comes at a cost and he's very predictable, pretty open defensively and always in front of a fighter to be hit. If he's going to rebuild from this loss his team need to get him to tighten the defenses whilst leaving himself handcuffed less. They also need him to understand he can use the whole ring, back off, rest, create space and if he's not working he needs to get out of dodge. At the age of 29 however we do worry that he's pretty much a fighter who's bad habits are there to stay. If that is going to be the case, then we'd hope he continues getting matched against fighters who are willing to match his style and battle up close, as these types of fights are really fan friendly.
One thing's for sure, he is not going to have a long career, and his eye seemed to be giving him issues at the end of this bout. Fingers crossed that's nothing too serious as we'd love to see more of him!
5-The layout at the Pyramide in Kazan is pretty neat
We're not usually too bothered about how a venue fights but we did like this. The ring was the focus of the action, we couldn't really see any fans as the venue was blacked out during the fight but what we could see was the entrance way and it looked really interesting with a graphic of the two fighters as well as the "All Champions" logo, that of the promoter. This wasn't anything mind blowing, but it was a nice touch and added to the feeling that we were watching a quality production.
With the rise of Central Asian fighters in the professional scene we expect to see Asian fighters leaving a big mark on the higher weights in the year to come. That makes the Super Middleweight division an interesting one right now, packed with talented and exciting fighters from Central Asia. With that in mind lets look at the current top 10, and like many divisions the drop off at the bottom end of this top 10 is massive.
1-Azizbek Abdugofurov (13-0, 5)
The 28 year old Uzbek Azizbek Abdugofurov is a bit of a forgotten man in the division at the moment. He was supposed to have big bouts in 2019 and is expected to have some big bouts this year, but it's been a while since anyone has really spoke much about him. Despite only having 13 bouts to his name he has beaten the likes of Sirimongkol Singwancha, Dmitrii Chudinov and Wuzhati Nuerlang. A very talented boxer Abdugofurov once looked like he was on the verge of huge things, but he only fought once last year and his win over Chudinov is now more than 2 years old. We have him at number #1, but he has another Uzbek closing in him and on the verge of moving ahead of him.
2-Bektemir Melikuziev (5-0, 4)
Whilst Abdugofurov is the top of this list he may be over-taken very quickly by the "Bek Bully" Bektemir Melikuzie. ,The Uzbek destroyer looks like the one man who is nailed on to be a future world champion. Melikuziev is a former amateur standout who turned professional in 2019 and blasted out experienced fighters like Martin Fidel Rios and Ricardo Luna Flores in his first two bouts. Since then he has proven he can box, as we saw against Vaughn Alexander, and has much more to his arsenal than his frightening power and vicious body punching. This man is one of the top prospects in world boxing, and is someone who might only be a fight or two away from a world title fight.
3-Ali Akhmedov (16-0, 12)
Fast rising Kazakh youngster Ali Akhmedov looks like one of the most exciting fighters making his way through the sport. The unbeaten 24 year old is exciting, aggressive, heavy handed and still very much an improving fighter, who is getting ring time at an early age before aiming for bigger and better things in the future. At the moment we're still awaiting to see Akhmedov take a step up, but we suspect when he does he will impress. He has defenses flaws to work on, but is an offensive machine and he looks like he will be in the mix for a world title in the coming years.
4-Aidos Yerbossynuly (13-0, 9)
Another Kazakh heading towards big things, potentially, is the unbeaten Aidos Yerbossynuly. The 28 year old has been a professional since 2015 and has slowly and quietly gone about his business so far. Last year he stepped up competition well, and beat Rocky Jerkic, in a career best win. With a number of regional titles around his waist he is heading towards big things, but there are big questions about his chin, his punch resistance and his ability to step up. He's a talented boxer-puncher, but there is still a lot of questions for him to answer.
5-Nurzat Sabirov (11-0, 9)
A third Kazakh in this list is Candian based 26 year old Nurzat Sabirov, who has quietly been quietly building some career momentum in recent years. Last year he scored 3 wins, including one over the unbeaten Laszlo Toth and one over veteran Ricardo Adrian Luna Flores. Although not the most well known of the Canadian based Kazakh fighters he is being managed by a team who know how to bring prospects through and is in a strong unit. Sabirov is likely a few fights behind those above him, but has ability, a good set up and a lot of promise. It's going to be interesting to see what Eye of the Tiger Management have planned for him when boxing resumes in Canada and we suspect that he's maybe 2 or 3 years away from a huge fight.
6-Vijender Singh (12-0, 8)
Once tipped for massive things Indian fighter Vijender Singh appears to be another of those fighters who was viewed as a star but failed to fully make his mark in the professional ranks. It was hoped that Singh would put Indian boxing on the map, be the star the country needed to unleash a generation of future boxers from the untapped Indian market. Sadly though inactivity, and promotional issues along with injuries have seen the 34 year old fighting just 12 times since his 2015 debut. Although still a big name in India it very much feels like Singh is only going to be sliding down this list, and then eventually off it, with out ever having a career defining fight. Talented, but not the star we had hoped for.
7-Zulipikaer Maimaitiali (12-2-1, 8)
Chinese fighter Zulipikaer Maimaitiali gave Vijender Singh a really close and competitive bout in 2017 and looked like being a really bright hope for Chinese boxing at 168lbs. Now however the jury is well and truly out on him. A surprise upset loss in 2019 to Abdallah Paziwapazi, who was taken out in 2 rounds by Rocky Fielding just a few months later. The 25 year old Maimaitiali is a fun to watch and aggressive fighter, but he now needs to get his career back on track as quickly as possible. Fingers crossed 2020, or rather what is left of 2020, gives him a chance to get back on track and get a win over a decent opponent.
8-Wuzhati Nuerlang (13-3, 10)
Close on the tail of Zulipikaer Maimaitiali is another Chinese fighter, Wuzhati Nuerlang. The 24 year old Nuerlang has shown promise but with losses in 2 of his last 4, and a team that appears will to throw him in too deep too soon we do wonder what can come of Nuerlang. He's talented, exciting and aggressive, but needs to be kept away from the likes of Azizbek Abdugofurov and Fedor Chudinov going forward, with both of them easly beating the Chinese fighter.
9-Arman Rysbek (7-0, 6)
Another Kazakh making his way into these rankings is 29 year old Arman Rysbek. He's someone who has already fought in the US, Argentina and Kazakhstan, but desperately needs a step up in competition sooner rather than later. His career is a weird one, fighting in the west before heading back to Kazakhstan for his last 4 bouts. His competition so far has been terrible, and he has stopped his last 5 opponents in a combined 7 rounds. Although he passes the eye test as a talented fighter his career really is in need of an injection, and hopefully he will kick on when boxing resumes later in the year.
10-Dias Tastemirov (4-0, 4)
We round out the top 10 with another fighter we want to see moving up in class shortly, with 29 year old Kazakh Dias Tastemirov filling out the rankings. The unbeaten puncher from Almaty has taken out his 4 opponents in a combined 6 rounds, but desperately needs to be fed better competition. He's just turned 29, so he does have a few years of time, but being based in Kazakhstan he may not have the team needed to back him in the way that helps really bring him along and develop him.
On the bubble:
Ravshan Ergashev, Tae San Kil, Chaloemporn Sawatsuk, Rafi Majid and Dinh Hoang Truong
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).