This weekend we have a very busy few nights of boxing, some great, some good and some not so good at all. We have a very heavy heavyweight, the return of a world champion and a good old fashioned dust up.
Saturday marks the long waited return of WBO Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders as he takes on Russian fighter Artur Akavov in the Paisley leisure centre. Saunders was scheduled to fight Max Bursak twice, and Akavov has been delayed three times in what has been a very poor year for the champion, and his choices of opponents aren’t proving anything either. Saunders was supposed to be on the bill last weekend in Cardiff but the fight had been pushed back another week due to Frank Warren having trouble getting the Russian medical forms translated to the British Boxing Board Of Control. On the undercard of the Boxnation bill Jack Catterall faces Diego Lugue and Paul Butler’s opponent is still unannounced.
Over in Bulgaria Kubrat Pulev faces aged Nigerian Samuel Peter for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Heavyweight Title. The WBA titles seem to becoming a joke now with there being a belt for every possible sanctioned fight and its hard to keep track of who holds what belt. Peter coming in aged 36 off the back of two journeyman victories since getting stopped in Germany by Robert Helenius will be there to upset the odds, but it does beg the question, if Peter gets evaporated its surely time to hang up the gloves? Pulev should also take no credit if he comes away victorious, he was the defending European champion but chose to go down this WBA route instead of making a massive payday against Anthony Joshua, which he turned down according to Eddie Hearn despite being the biggest payday of his career.
Finally the fight I’m most excited for is over in he Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow were Denis Lebedev will face unbeaten dangerous challenger Murat Gassiev with his IBF and WBA Super Cruiserweight Titles on the line. Gassiev a fellow Russian aged 23 comes into the fight with a record of 23-0-0(17ko’s) with almost a 4 inch height advantage over Lebedev. Since coming off that famous stoppage to Guillermo Jones when Lebedev’s eye looked like it was going to fall out (see picture above) he has been on a destructive path to unifying the division, ending Pawel Kolodziej and Lateef Kayode’s unbeaten records, and more recently obliterating Victor Emilio Ramirez and taking his IBF Cruiserweight Title. Gassiev’s last nine fights have ended in a stoppage victory so this makes for a great match up and Lebedev is always exciting to watch! On the undercard we have Eduard Troyanovsky taking on Julius Indongo, Dmitry Kudryashov take on Santander Silgado and Rakhim Chakhiev face Maksim Vlasov.
As Billy Joe fights this saturday on Boxnation I doubt the Lebedev fight will be show on English TV as they normally get the international fights, so will have to be down to the streaming!