The main focus for us this coming Friday is Uzbekistan, as Matchroom put on their second Uzbek card, and it's an interesting one with a great main event and several other bouts worthy of attention.
The main event is a world title eliminator at 154lbs as unbeaten, and highly touted, Uzebekistani fighter Israil Madrimov (7-0, 5) takes a huge step up in class and takes on the skilled and experienced French fighter Michel Soro (35-2-1, 24). Madrimov has been put on the fact track since turning professional in 2018 and despite some wobbles recently, notably in a tough one against Eric Walker last year, he has looked like a very special fighter. Albeit one that looks bored at times and looks like he is trying to entertain himself against lesser opponents. Soro on the other hand is a perennial contender who has one of the best resumes of any active fighter to have never won a legitimate world title. Aged 34 Soro won't get many, if any, more chances if he loses here and we suspect to see him put it all on the line here in what could be a really sensational 12 rounder. Sadly we're not sure either man would have the tools to dethrone WBA champion Jermell Charlo, but as a stand alone bout, this one is a very, very interesting one and the winner would, rightfully, deserve a shot at the champion.
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see Olympic silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov (11-0, 9) take on the tricky and awkward Cristian Rafael Coria (29-8-2, 13), in what should be a much tougher bout than it looks on paper. Giyasov, dubbed the "Wonder Boy", is a talented fighter but one who has shown some cracks during his professional career, and is certainly a work in progress. Saying that however he's talented, heavy handed, accurate and has the tools to go all the way to the top, in the future. We still feel he needs some seasoning, but he certainly has what's needed to be a champion. Coria on the other hand is a 39 year old journeyman who constantly looks for the upset, having given Hiroki Okada hell in 2018 and beaten Joel Diaz Jr in 2019. He was stopped last time out, by the awkward Alberto Puello, but he's tough and will be looking to make Giyasov pay for his numerous errors.
Another very notably fight in this card will be the return of Bektemir Melikuziev (7-1, 6), who looks to bounce back from his upset loss to Gabe Rosado. Interesting Melikuziev isn't being matched mega softly here, and instead of taking on a patsy after such a brutal KO loss he's up against the capable Sergei Ekimov (18-3, 9), who has never been stopped and pushed recent world title challenger Umar Salamov close in his most recent bout. This shouldn't be a problem for Melikuziev, but we suspect he will have to go rounds and this should serve him well given the loss to Rosado.
There also a number of other touted hopefuls on this card, such as 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov (3-0, 3), who takes on tough Mexican journeyman Jose Rivas (18-12-4, 10). On paper this is a mismatch, but Rivas has only been stopped twice with the most recent of those coming to Jose Argumedo more than 6 years ago. He should extend Dusmatov a few rounds.
Likewise we expect to see Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6) have to work for a win over Filipino Jhon Gemino (22-12-1, 12), whilst former amateur standouts Ikboljon Kholdarov (1-0, 1) and Dilshodbek Ruzmetov (0-0) should both be taking home very easy wins as they they begin their professional journey's, and they are two men who have the potential to go very far, very fast.
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
In Canada we'll see the talented Batyrzhan Jukembayev (18-1-0-2, 14) look to bounce back from his thrilling loss to Subriel Matias, back in May. The exciting Canadian based Kazakh showed lots to like there against one of the true dangermen at 140lbs, and will be given a chance to get a confidence building win here as he takes on limited Mexican Juan Jose Martinez (28-10, 20). It's fair to say that Jukembayev isn't world class, but he's certainly someone who can mix with the top 10 type of fighters and hopefully after this bout we see him mixing at a good level again in the new year.
Vysotsky Sports Palace, Samara, Russia
Over in Russia we'll see a couple of low level bouts with Central Asian fighters in action, playing the B-sides.
On such bout will see 25 year old Russian hopeful Rokhman Akhmetkhanov (2-0, 2) look to continue his impressive start to live as a professional boxer as he takes on Alexandr Zhuravskiy (13-8-1, 11), of Kazakhstan. Akhmetkhanov made his debut in March, has just 3 rounds to his name, but already looks like a genuine handful at Middleweight or Super Middleweight, and has two solid wins to his name. At his best Zhuravskiy was a tough, durable, reliable test for fighters, though he is now looking a bit shot and past his best. We expect Akhmetkhanov to win, but if he scores another quick win here it's going to be very, very hard to get him rounds over the next year or two.
A similar match up to the one above will see Chingiz Natyrov (2-0, 2), another hard hitting Russian hopeful, take on veteran Rauf Aghayev (33-12, 15), from Afghanistan. The 29 year old Natyrov looked tremendous last year, when he picked up two wins in the space of a few weeks including a stoppage of Oleksandr Hryshchuk, but with more than a year out of the ring he'll be hoping to get some rounds in here and move on to bigger things in 2022. The 38 year old Aghayev has amazingly fought 8 times this year! Though has sadly been stopped in 3 of those, and would be shocked if he avoided another stoppage loss here against someone as good as Natyrov.
A third bout of interest to us on this card will see Russian based Kazakh Ilya Ochkin (6-2, 2) look to bounce back from his 2020 blow out loss to Magomed Kurbanov, as he takes on Azeri fighter Elvin Akhundzada (4-8, 2). Coming in to this Akhundzada has been stopped very early in his last 3, and has lost 8 in a row. We do not expect him to put up much of an effort, but it'll be good to see Ochkin back in the ring after a length break from action, and after such a loss last time out.
The month of April is already under way and this Saturday we are getting a treat with a stacked day of action, featuring prospects, debutants, world title contenders and, best of all, a huge world title bout in Uzbekistan! In fact we are getting the greatest professional boxing event in Uzbekistan's history!
Humo Arena, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
We'll start with the Uzbek card, which is really something special and something super stacked! In fact it's up there with the most notable cards of the year so far.
The main event will see unified Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) defending his WBA "super" and IBF Super Bantamweight titles against Japanese challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17), in a mandatory defense. Akhmadaliev won the titles last year, when he beat Danny Roman, and has had to wait over a year to return to the ring as a champion. He will be the strong favourite, and the clear fan favourite for what is a massive home coming fight. Iwasa on the other hand is looking to reach the pinnacle of the sport for a second time, having previously held the IBF title. The hard hitting Japanese fighter can blow very hot and cold, but looked fantastic last time out, dominating Marlon Tapales. Sadly that was in December 2019. Despite the lengthy lay offs for both men this is a mouth watering bout and it deserves a lot of attention. Potentially the best bout of the entire month! Our in depth preview of this match up can be read here Akhmadlaiev and Iwasa clash at last!
In one of the main supporting bouts we'll see the highly regarded Israil Madrimov (6-0, 5) take on the hard hitting Emmany Kalombo (14-0, 14), in a mouth watering match up. Madrimov has looked like a future world champion in the making since his 2018 debut, though looked underwhelming last time out, against the tough and awkward Eric Walker. He'll be wanting to shine here and make a statement in his first bout since that one. Congolese born South African based Kalombo on the hand will be going in to this bout knowing that he has a huge chance to announce himself to the world. It's a huge opportunity for Kalomobo, but he will be the big under-dog. Given unbeaten records and the combined 95% KO ratio we don't expect this one to go the distance. Instead we expect a short but explosive contender. Don't blink.
Another established Uzbek on this card is Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8), who takes on experienced Mexican fighter Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-4, 20). On paper this looks like it should be a straight forward win for Giyasov, a 2016 Olympic silver medal winner, but Moreno is a credible competitor and we suspect he'll give Giyasov a number of questions to answer here. Giyasov should have the tools to pick up a win, but we don't think he'll have an easy time.
One man who will be looking to establish himself in the professional ranks on this show is 2016Olympic gold medal winner Hasanboy Dusmatov (2-0, 2), who has failed to set the world alight since turning professional, but clearly has the talent to do so. He'll be up against Tanzania's Muhsin Kizota (11-2, 5) in what should be a real showcase for the unbeaten Uzbek. Kizota is tough, durable and will be hungry, but Dusmatov is a special talent, and he should be far, far too good for the Tanzanian fighter.
We won't go through the entire under-card, but it will feature touted Heavyweight prospect Bakhodir Jalolov (7-0, 7), the explosive Elnur Abduraimov (7-0, 6), the talented Sanjar Tursunov (2-0, 1) and debuting former amateur standouts Ikboljon Kholdarov (0-0) and Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov (0-0). We suspect at least 2 of these 5 will go on to win world titles one day in the future, though all 5 have that level of potential.
Round 10 Boxing Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A second show worthy of major attention comes from Dubai, where we get several bouts featuring Asian fighters. This card is headlined by WBO Super Featherweight champion Jamel Herring defending his title against Carl Frampton, but it's Asian action we're interested in.
The most notable of the Asian fighters on the show is 4-weight world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23), who returns to the ring for the first time since beating Kazuto Ioka for the WBO Super Flyweight title at the very end of 2018! The talented Filipino really has had a couple of years to forget, sitting on the sidelines and watch the Super Flyweight division set on dire whilst injuries and issues with ALA Promotions cost him a potential super fight. In the opposite corner to "Ahas" will be Colombian veteran Pablo Carrillo (25-7-1, 16), who shouldn't be a real test for Nietes, but could ask some questions of the 38 year old Pinoy. If Nietes is as good as he was, he should win with ease, but we do wonder the the long lay off done to him.
In a really good looking match up the unbeaten Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) will be up against Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6). Sadly Turarov has wasted a lot of his potential, and despite still being unbeaten it seems that injuries, inactivity and a bit of an aimless career will never reach the heights that many predicted. Turarov is now 30 and he's at the point where he needs to be focused on the sport. McKenna is no world beater, but he's a very solid fighter all the same, and he the tenacity and hunger to be a a real threat to Turarov's unbeaten record. This could end up being a real gut check for "Da Kazakh Kid".
Another Kazakh on this card in an interesting looking match up is Tursynbay Kulakhmet (2-0, 1), who defends his WBC International 154lb title against unbeaten Venezuelan Heber Rondon (20-0, 13). The talented Kulakhmet impressed in the amateurs, looked like a sensation in his professional debut, then looked like a power but limited fighter in his second professional bout. We're expecting a much better performance here from him than we got last time. As for Rondon his record is unbeaten but under-whelming and he lacks wins of any real value. In fact this will be his toughest bout so far. Worrying for a 34 year old with a 20-0 record.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Back over in Asian we get the latest show in the WP Boxing series of shows thanks to Workpoint and NKL. This card is certainly not a big one, but it's a notable one, with two bouts worthy of attention.
One of the two bouts is a flat out mismatch, as WBC ranked Bantamweight Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) takes part in a stay busy bout against Sophon Klachun (5-5-1, 1). The bout really is match up designed to keep Nawaphon active after a frustrating start to the year, which included planned world title fight falling through. We don't like matches like this, especially given this is the fourth successive "stay busy" bout for Suriyan, but it's much better than his sitting twiddling his thumbs doing nothing.
The other bout is a much better match up, as the unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee (8-0, 2) defends his WBC regional title against veteran Kaewfah Tor Buamas (29-7, 19). This bout "should" be an easy one for the talented Apichet, but it's hard to know with him. At times he has looked really, really good, but recently he has shown some real limitations and is lucky to still be unbeaten. Kaewfah was once a solid fighter but has now lost his last 3 and seems to be on the back end of his career. The veteran might have some tricks up his sleeve, but it would be a big surprise to see him pick up a victory here.
On a second show in Thailand we'll see an interesting looking match up between former world title contender Petch CP Freshmart (59-1, 44), aka Tasana Salapat, and fellow Thai Kongfah Nakornluang (33-3, 21), aka Chaiwat Buatkrathok. The bout will see Petch defending his WBC Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title, and looking to begin his slow climb towards another major fight. On paper this looks like a good bout. Interestingly this bout was meant to take place way back in December, on Christmas day in fact, but was cancelled at short notice and pushed back more than 3 months.
Balai Sarbini Convention Hall, Jakarta, Indonesia
We're set to get low quality action in Indonesia, though it's a show that may unearth some gems, with 3 unbeaten prospects on the card in scheduled 10 rounders. Their opponents are very limited but it's still interesting to see novices in such long bouts this early in their careers.
Before we look at those prospects we want to quickly tough on a match up between James Mokoginta (40-18-3, 26) and Isack Junior (26-15-3, 9) which is an interesting one. Mokoginta, a 51 fight veteran, is only 30 years old and seems to have been around for a life time, having debuted way back in 2004. Coming in to this he has all the momentum, riding a 10 fight unbeaten run. Junior on the other hand started his career 22-1-2 (8) and seemed to be on his way to some sort of success. Since then he has gone 4-14-1 and appears to pad records for fighters. We're expecting another defeat for Junior here.
As for the prospects one of those is Christo Gara (2-0, 1), who seems to have debuted in 2019 and put in two solid performances. He'll be up against the very limited Jack Madison (2-19) in a bout that should easily move Gara to 3-0. Another man who should pick up a very easy win is Doni Syafyendro (1-0) who takes on 46 year old Harri Hutagalung (1-16), who scored his only win way back in 2010, in his debut, and has had 16 losses in a row since then, with 12 of those losses coming by stoppage.
The third prospect, and the most interesting, is Indonesian Heavyweight hopeful Alam Syaputra (1-0, 1). Yes, you did read that, an Indonesian Heavyweight. In fact he's a natural Heavyweight and he's a genuine big lad, who looked impressive and imposing in his 2019 debut against Michael Wattimena. He'll be expecting his second professional win when he takes on David Koswara (12-16-2, 4), who, is a Heavyweight now, but began his career at Welterweight. This should be a bit of a farce, but it'll be interesting to see Syaputra back in action and he's someone who want to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Pyramide, Kazan, Russia
Over in Russia we're expecting to see Kazakh female fighter Firuza Sharipova (12-1, 6) take on Sofya Ochigava (4-0, 1), in the second bout between the two women. Sharipova, once one of the most noteworthy fighters in Kazakhstan, has seen the media cool down on her significantly over the last 24 months but a win here would see the press talking about her a lot, again. As for Ochigava a win here would see her repeat her 2016 win over Sharipova, in what was the professional debut for both women.
Also pencilled in for this card is 21 year old Uzbek hopeful Ravshan Makhamadjonov (11-0, 7). The talented Makhamadjonov really needs a step up in class this year, having now been a professional for around 4 years, but unfortunately he's had no opponent confirmed at the time or writing, suggesting he'll be up against a short notice opponent, and probably a limited one at that.