It's not often we're going to get the chance to talk about world title action this month, but thankfully this Saturday is one of those rare chances, as we get a really interesting day. Not only do we have a solid looking Filipino card, but also a show in California featuring a world title bout and a very highly regarded Uzbek hopeful.
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, USA
The most notable of the shows will be taking place in California on a Golden Boy Promotions show.
The world title fight will see IBF Super Featherweight champion Joseph Diaz (31-1, 15) defending his title against mandatory challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12), from Tajikistan. For Diaz this will be the first defense of the title he won last year, when he fought through a nasty cut to pound out a win against Tevin Farmer, in what was a stellar performance by Diaz. In the opposite corner will be the technically limited, but strong and heavy handed Rakhimov, who has been owed at the title since 2019, when he stopped Azinga Fuzile in South Africa. Although Rakhimov is flawed he does have a fun, exciting style and can make for very fan friendly bouts, much like Diaz. With that in mind we could end up with a genuine instant classic here as two aggressive guys clash in a very meaningful mean event on DAZN. Our full, in depth, preview of this one can be read here Rakhimov takes on Diaz in IBF title fight
We're also expecting two very talented and promising Uzbek's to be in action on this show.
One of those Uzbek fighters is Super Middleweight contender Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5), who was originally supposed to fight at the end of January before Sergey Kovalev failed a drug test. Sadly his opponent for this show hasn't yet been announced.
The other is Lightweight hopeful Elnur Abduraimov (6-0, 6) who will be taking on Colombian veteran Deivi Julio (21-9-0-1, 13), who is now 39 years old. The Colombian veteran was once regarded as a world ranked contender, but he has now lost 7 of his last 9 bouts and it's clear he is not the fighter he once was.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Staying in the US Top Rank will be putting on their own show in Las Vegas. The main event here will be a WBO Light Heavyweight title fight, which will pit heavy handed American Joe Smith Jr (26-3, 21) against Russian veteran Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26). This should be a really interesting match up and will pit Smith's power agains the skills, movement size and experience of Vlasov. Interestingly the loser of this is unlikely to get another chance, given both are the wrong side of 30, so it could be well be regarded as a must win, for both me. An indepth preview of this one thanks to George Delis can be read here Vlasov and Smith clash for WBO title!
2nd Floor, Mega Mart Burgos Poblacion Norte, Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippines
As well as the US action there is also a pretty interesting show in the Philippines. It's not a stacked card, but it is certainly an interesting one with plenty of promising talent.
In an excellent looking match up for the GAB Flyweight title we'll see the once beaten Bienvenido Ligas (12-1-1, 9) take on the criminally under-rated Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6-1, 5), in a much better match up than the records suggest. Ligas has bounced back well following a technical draw and a loss in 2018 to Joseph Ambo, and has won his last 6, with 5 of those wins coming by stoppage. Dagayloan on the other hand has continually proven to be better than his record suggests and is 10-1-2 in his last 13, with his loss being a very close one in Japan to Ryota Yamauchi. A preview of this one by Troy Parslow can be read here Proving Ground: Ben Ligas steps up to Alphoe Dagayloan
In another interesting match up we'll see the unbeaten Charly Suarez (4-0, 4), who was a very highly regarded amateur before he turned professional, take on the hard hitting Jon Jon Estrada (11-7-1, 10). At the age of 32 Suarez really is in "now or never" territory, and if he doesn't get a move on this year there's a good chance he fails to ever come close to a world title fight. As for Estrada he's a flawed fighter, but a very serious puncher and a relatively tough guy who has only been stopped twice in his 7 losses, including in his 2013 debut. This should be a test for Suarez, but a test he passes without too many issues.
Another once beaten fighter on this show is Ranelio Quizo (7-1, 1) who takes on Prince Andrew Laurio (10-3-1, 7) in a very good looking match up. The 22 year old Quizo was beaten last February by the under-rated John Mark Tihuk, and will be looking to bounce back from that defeat after more than a year out of the ring. As for Laurio, who is also 22, his career is in some trouble after 3 successive KO losses, and he needs a win here. Interesting Laurio will be fighting for the first time since July 2019 and although his form has been poor he certainly has the power here, with Quizo being a non-puncher. This might not look like an amazing bout, but it's an interesting one, with a glass cannon taking on a non-puncher.
A third fight involving a once beaten fighter will see Lorenz Ladrada (7-1-1, 2) take on Remon Basas (5-4, 4). On paper it is very, very easy to see this as a complete and utter mismatch, however it's not as simple as it looks. In his 9 fight career Ladrada has struggled with the 6 round distance, and had several very close decisions over inexperienced and limited opponents. He could easily have more than just the single loss to his name. Basas on the other hand is a solid puncher, with a decent chin, who has faced better opponents. This is much more competitive than it looks on paper.
Also on this card is unbeaten novice Ali Canega (2-0, 2) who risks his unbeaten record against Glenn Bismanos (6-1-3, 4), yet another fighter with a single defeat to his name. For Canega this will be his first bout against an opponent with a win and his first 6 rounder. It is also expected to be the first time he goes beyond 2 rounds. As for Bismanos he is unbeaten in his last 8, after a loss to John Lawrence Ordonio back in 2016, and has fought at a much higher level than Canega. This could be another very good bout, and it's good to see two fighters with good records risking them against each other, something we rarely see in the Philippines.