This coming Friday in Manchester, New Hampshire, we'll see unified Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7) defending his WBA "super" and IBF Super Bantamweight titles, as he takes on late replacement Jose Velasquez (29-6-2, 19), who has gotten the bout after Ronny Rios (33-3, 16) contracted Covid19 around a week before the bout.
The bout will be Akhmadaliev's second defense of the title he won in 2020, when he beat Danny Roman in a sensational bout, and will serve as a break for Velasquez, who was supposed to fight Reymart Gaballo for the WBA interim Bantamweight title in 2020 before Nonito Donaire was pulled out of a different fight and he was lost in the shuffle.
Aged 27 Akhamdaliev has been moved through the ranks like very few others. He turned professional after an impressive amateur and was world ranked within a year of his professional debut. By late 2019 he was knocking on the door of a world title fight, and were it not for an injury to Danny Roman there's a good chance that "MJ" would have won a world title in September 2019. Instead he had to wait for Roman to recover, with the two men clashing in January 2020, with Akhmadlaiev taking a split decision, and the the unified IBA/WBA "super" titles. That was in just his 8th professional bout. Sadly Covid has stopped his rise to stardom, and since winning the titles he has fought just once, beating the then IBF mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa.
In the ring Akhmadaliev can pretty much do it all. At his best he's a patient, but aggressive, pressure-puncher. He's naturally heavy handed, puts his shots together well, picks his moments and applies mentally draining and consistent front foot pressure. When he needs to box he can, as we saw against Roman, he can also change the tempo of bouts, and it a very complete all rounder. At times he can fight the wrong fight, an unfortunate consequence of being such a brilliant all rounder, but he's able to adapt and take control when he needs to. For a man with just 9 bouts to his name he has already proven he has world class power, hurting Danny Roman and stopping Ryosuke Iwasa, he has great stamina, going 12 rounds and picking up the pace in some of the later rounds against Roman, and he's proven he can take a shot, as he showed against Roman. The one question mark about him, is whether he can come out on top in an intense inside war, and that's hopefully something we'll see next year in a potential clash with Stephon Fulton or Brandon Figueroa.
The relatively unknown Velasquez is a 32 year old from Chile who really well known at all, despite having had a couple of bouts in the US. He began his career in 2013, and struggled to get going early in his career, going 4-5-2 (1) in his first 11 bouts. Since then however he has really turned things around going 21-1 in his last 22 bouts, with 14 straight wins dating back more than 5 years. Whilst that run looks good on paper his winning run does lack noteworthy wins, with his best victories coming against the likes of Melvin Lopez and Ariel Lopez, who were both unbeaten prior to facing Velasquez.
From the footage of Velasquez he looks like a strong, physical fighter, who could be a handful against some top 20 guys at Bantamweight. He's got solid stopping power, he's physical, but he's not particularly skilled, quick or sharp and instead has relied on his physical traits, rather than his technical ones. He's proven his toughness in recent bouts and his tenacity. He has never been stopped and has taken solid blows. Sadly for him however this is a major step up in class, a move up in weight from Bantamweight to Super Bantamweight and it's a bout he has taken at very short notice.
With a good notice period Velasquez has the ability to be a test for a decent fighter. This however is him against an excellent fighter, up a weight and on a weeks notice. This is not going to go well for him, and he will be beaten, broken down and stopped. The only thing prolonging his beating will be his own toughness, but that won't last forever and when "MJ" feels like ending this he will.
Prediction TKO4 Akhmadaliev
World Title Previews
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