The rise of Russian boxing in the last few years has been genuinely amazing. It's been as if a sleeping giant has awoken and began to slowly grab boxing by the the throat. This has seen fighters like Sergey Kovalev, Denis Lebedev, Evgeny Gradovich, Matt Korobov, Grigory Drozd and Khabib Allakhverdiev all make a name for themselves at, or around, the top of the professional ranks.
The next fighter from Russia attempting to move up a class is the unbeaten 27 year old Super Middleweight Fedor Chudinov (11-0, 9). Dubbed “The Classic” Chudinov is the younger brother of Dmitry Chudinov, the WBA interim Middleweight champion, and in the eyes of many Fedor is much better and more complete fighter.
This Thursday Fedor will be hoping to replicate his brother's interim success and claim the WBA interim Super Middleweight title. To do that however he will need to over-come the unbeaten Australian Ben McCulloch (14-0, 11), the recent PABA Super Middleweight champion.
For those who haven't seen Chudinov in action he is, as his record indicates, a heavy handed fighter. That was evident on his debut when he dropped Shawn Kirk with effectively his first real punch and Kirk was unable to, or rather unwilling to, beat the count. Within a year of his debut he was 4-0 (3) with only Cesar Ibarra managing to see the final bell. Although things progressed somewhat slowly over the following few years we've since seen Chudinov explode onto the scene with wins over the likes of Stjepan Bozic and the then unbeaten Andy Perez.
To date the only man to survive more than 5 rounds with Chudinov is the teak tough Jimmy Colas, an insanely tough French Light Middleweight. Despite being take then 10 rounds in that bout Chudinov won every round and showed he had stamina to go with his power.
With pressure and power it's fair to say Chudinov is a real threat to fighters at the lesser levels though we are awaiting to see how he copes with a fellow world class fighter, something we suspect we'll find out in 2016, that is if he wins his coming fight.
In McCulloch we have a somewhat unproven fighter though, like Chudinov, he appears to be a heavy handed fighter. Sadly however McCulloch's opposition so far has been terrible to say the least. The one time McCulloch was really tested was when he fought against Omar Shaick and was lucky to claim a split decision win. Since then McCulloch has faced some very limited opposition such as Yodkhunsuk Mor Poowana, who he fought back in August.
From what we've seen of McCulloch he has nothing to really put up a fight against Chudinov. That's not to say this isn't a step up for both men, though one man clearly has to be favoured over the other. Chudinov is much more proven than McCulloch and is fighting at home, appears heavier handed and is almost certainly going to be the more comfortable man in there, until McCulloch eventually folds.
(Image courtesy of vk.com)
Thanks to the Yuzo Kiyota Official Web Site
Outside of Asia not many boxing fans have heard of the hard hitting Yuzo Kiyota (23-3-1, 21). Soon however he will attempt to make history.
The 29 year Super Middleweight from Tokyo will be shot from complete obscurity to the world stage as he attempts to seize the WBO world title from the Russian born German Robert Stieglitz (44-3, 25). If he's successful Kiyota would become not only the first ever Japanese fighter to claim a WBO title but also the first to claim a belt at Super Middleweight.
Kiyota's task is a very difficult one taking on a a 2-time world champion who has recently regained a title that he will not be wanting to let go of. It will not only be Kiyota's first world title bout but it will also be his first bout outside of the world famous Korakuen Hall. But does he have a chance?
For many in Europe Stieglitz is seen as a paper champion, a fighter who is lucky that there is 4 world titles (and more) in his division. Talent wise he is seen as B rate fighter in a division that includes Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler. Despite this "lower" standing Stieglitz is a credible fighter despite his lack of 1-punch power and a world class chin.
At his best Stieglitz is a hard working fighter who will throw a lot and refuse to quit. If he comes out on fire, like he did last time out against Arthur Abraham, he could give any fighter in the division a night mare. He has a solid engine, is technically impressive and has certainly become a lot more confident in his abilities over the past few years. At his worst however he's a bit of a popcorn puncher who can be seriously rattled by power with 2 of his 3 losses coming by stoppage.
It's the durability issues of Stieglitz which may present Kiyota with a chance. Albeit a rather slim one. We're not going to lie, as fun as Kiyota is to watch, he is a major under-dog here.
For Kiyota he'll know perfectly well that he is stepping up to the big boys table. For the past few years his reign as the OPBF Super Middleweight champion has seen him almost acting as a big fish in a little pond. Evidence of this is in the fact that he is 7-0 (7) in OPBF Super Middleweight title bouts, in fact he is unbeaten at 168.
Although Kiyota is unbeaten at Super Middleweight, his most recent loss was a worry. He was taken out in just 128 seconds by Jameson Bostic, though admittedly that was at Light Heavyweight and Kiyota has looked a much improved fighter technically since then.
What Kiyota has going for him is not only a clear power edge but also the fact no one really expects him to do anything. Fans and media alike in Europe have written him off as an "easy" first defense as Stieglitz prepares to finish a trilogy with Arthur Abraham. This puts all the pressure on the champion who could well be looking beyond the Japanese fighter. There is also the fact that Kiyota is an improving fighter, the man who was beaten by Bostic was unrecognisable to the man who defeated Hiromitsu Miura last time out.
By rights Stieglitz has to be favoured. He may be a "B level" world champion but he's proven on the world stage with victories over Arthur Abraham, Khoren Gevor, Enrique Ornelas, Eduard Gutknecht, Karoly Balzsay and Alejandro Berrio. Upsets do happen and if the powerfully built Kiyota can impose himself on the champion with his power he could shock the world, though it would be a major upset.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.