Russia’s Albert Batyrgaziev claimed the inaugural IBA Pro World Champion title, defeating Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba in the 60kg main event of the eighth IBA Champions’ Night at the Agenda Arena in Dubai.
Batyrgaziev looked stable until he was on the receiving end of a roundhouse right in the fourth round, putting him under pressure. Responding to that difficult round, the Russian returned the pressure to the Cuban at the halfway point.
Batyrgaziev dominated the attack, but it was Alvarez that had the more productive strikes. It was difficult to call the winner in this bout, but ultimately Batyrgaziev’s tenacity gave him the unanimous victory, bringing the head-to-head record with Alvarez to 2-2.
Earlier in the night, it was announced Irish UFC legend Conor McGregor will compete at the next IBA Champions’ Night against fellow MMA star Petr Yan from Russia.
Under the IBA main event were three professional matches.
The penultimate fight saw Russia’s Evgeny Tishchenko crowned the inaugural WBA Bridgerweight World champion at the 101.6kg weight.
A clean left uppercut from the Russian stunned his opponent Leon Harth in the second round, dropping him to his knees and forcing a count. Despite the uphill challenge, the German pushed back, managing to catch his larger opponent with several blows to the face.
However, Tishchenko remained solid and composed. He landed a left hook on Harth in the sixth round, knocking him to the ground and causing a TKO. As a result, Tishchenko was crowned the inaugural WBA Bridgerweight champion.
All three professional matches ended early, with IBA World Champion Muslim Gadzhimagomedov beating Artur Mann of Germany in the 90.7kg match.
It was a strong start for Gadzhimagomedov, who had Mann playing defence in the early rounds of the bout, but importantly for the German, he was largely unscathed. Mann came back into the bout, but as soon as he was bouncing back, the cracks began to show. The fifth round saw him fall and he would do so again, surviving the count. Just before the ninth round, his corner withdrew, giving the Russian Gadzhimagomedov the TKO.
The first professional bout of the night saw a fourth-round TKO from IBA World champion Mark Petrovskii over Australian veteran Lucas Browne in the +90.7kg.
While Browne delivered hammers, Petrovsky managed to catch him very quickly, forcing a knockdown. Browne would be dropped again in the second round, leaving his opponent a bloody mess. The Australian survived until in the fourth round, despite giving his younger foe a spook when he got on the front foot. Petrovskii got the win by TKO as Browne was kept up by the ropes on his third fall.
France’s Sofiane Oumiha came into his 60kg fight as an Olympic silver medallist and three-time world champion, having won all three of his professional boxing matches to date. Jose Quiles Brotons, the 2022 European silver medallist and 2023 European Games runner-up, was his opponent.
Competing both in IBA events and professionally ahead of his home Olympic Games in Paris next year, Oumiha was active throughout the bout, as Quiles Brotons snatched points with his backhand shot frequently. Both athletes had sound accuracy, but it was Oumiha who would win unanimously.
Two Asian icons faced off in the 71kg fight, with Sewon Okazawa from Japan meeting Uzbekistan’s Saidjamshid Jafarov.
Unsurprisingly, Okazawa started on the back foot – a stance that led him to the gold medal at the 2021 Men’s World Boxing Championships – and his calculated punches were working, but the quality boxer that Jafarov is, caught the Japanese with a few flush strikes to the face.
Okazawa would find his rhythm eventually, but it required him and the powerhouse Jafarov to adapt from their traditional styles to get the better of each other. Jafarov remained disciplined, Okazawa remained troublesome, both displaying the best of their attributes. Going into the final round it was a close contest and one that would come down to a matter of preference from the judges. Jafarov would have his arm raised, rewarded for working hard on the front foot in what was a quality, friendly affair.
Some fierce footwork in the 80kg match between Aliaksei Alfiorau of Belarus and Azerbaijan’s Loren Alfonso saw both focus on the space they had in the ring. Alfiorau was the fighter leading the charge, constantly attempting to corner Alfonso, who was able to evade in the early stages. However, the Belarusian was able to break through convincingly at the halfway stage, landing some heavy blows.
Alfonso found a second wind in the penultimate round, dancing around the ring on the backfoot and looking far more comfortable – a statement that seemed unlikely just five minutes before. Just as the Azerbaijan boxer looked back in the bout, Alfiorau caught Alfonso with a combo between the gloves, halting the momentum of his opponent. It was a split decision win for Alfonso, favoured for his punch-picking.
The opening bout of the night saw an aggressive start for United Arab Emirates’ Sultan Al Nuaimi against Nurzhigit Diushebaev. With a more relaxed stance, the Kyrgyzstan boxer would find his feet, able to strike and retreat effectively. While the home favourite started strongly in the third round, it was Diushebaev who landed with a whipping right hook just before the bell, checking Al Nuaimi.
It was the Tajik’s first six-round bout and went into the unknown in the fourth. Yet, it was his opponent who looked more fondly of the bell ringing, buckling at the knee. Round five was more level, but Diushebaev scattered singles early in the final three minutes as Al Nuaimi erratically missed shots in an attempt to salvage a victory. It was a unanimous victory for Diushebaev in a fantastic show opener.