Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov continued his unbeaten professional record in front of a home crowd at the IBA Champions’ Night, taking place at the Beeline Arena in Astana.
On the Kazakhstan vs The Rest of the World fight card, both sides would claim four victories.
Yeleussinov defeated Jabulani Makhense of South Africa in the 71kg main event. Defensive from both athletes, they kept each other at arms’ reach in the early stages. Soon, Yeleussinov applied the pressure to his opponent, minimising the space in the ring for Makhense to move into.
The South African would retreat and allow shots to come his way while protecting himself, aiming to instead catch Yeleussinov on the counter with swinging overhand hooks. However, the Kazakh barely had to flinch and would send the fans home happy. Both boxers had a warm embrace to conclude a night of exceptional boxing. Yeleussinov’s victory took him to 12 professional fights undefeated.
Second from the top of the card, Russian Khariton Agrba defeated Dulat Bekbauov in the 67kg match. Straight out of the corners, they were ferocious, but it was soon clear one was more comfortable than the other. A sound striker and evasive in defence, Agrba dealt brutish blows in response to attacks from the Kazakh.
By round five, World Championships silver medallist Bekbauov had taken some clear strikes to the face, but was working hard to remain in the contest, the only fight of the night to run for eight rounds. At the end, Agrba had his arm raised.
While Agrba would claim a Russian win, 2019 World Championships gold medallist Bekzat Nurdauletov from Kazakhstan denied another. There was a feeling-out process in the first round of the 80kg fight between home favourite and Nikita Zon but quickly it was the Russian who found success.
Yet, the bout progressed and Zon became complacent on the defence, allowing Nurdauletov to score the crucial points that would secure the victory for him. Both boxers were left with blackened eyes, showing the striking accuracy on display.
WBT Silver Belt Series winner Pavel Fedorov representing Serbia would be another winner for the visitors, in what was a close affair against Serik Temirzhanov in the 63.5kg contest. A fight low on show-stealing moments, the Serbian looked comfortable against his opponent, as Fedorov took his professional record to four victories from four, over the 2021 World Championships silver medallist.
It was an equally-fought bout in the opening rounds of the 71kg contest between Kazakhstan’s 2023 World champion Aslanbek Shymbergenov and Jose Miguel Borrego from Mexico, but it was the visitor that stunned the crowd in an impressive fourth round.
A howitzer of a left hook landed by the Mexican, dropped Shymbergenov and forced a referee’s count. As the fight resumed, Borrego charged in with a clean jab to the face and another one led to the Kazakh corner calling the match off, giving the Mexican boxer the victory.
Dutch boxer Gradus Kraus also claimed an 80kg win over Yerassyl Zhakepov. It was a strong start for Kraus, who looked to have Zhakepov in trouble due to some hard blows in an otherwise tight contest. However the Kazakh, donning a leaner figure, was able to look as convincing as his opponent who seemed to have expended a lot of energy in the early stages.
Yet Kraus was resilient, managing to still strike Zhakepov near the end. He celebrated as the bell rang for the final time, confident he would be named the winner and the recipient of $10,000 – and he was correct.
The opening two bouts would go in favour of the hosts, Kazakhstan, represented by two World champions – Sanzhar Tashkenbay and Makhmud Sabyrkhan. Tashkenbay defeated Nodirjon Mirzakhmedov of Uzbekistan in the 51kg and Sabyrkhan vanquished Rolando Martinez Perez from Cuba at 57kg.
In the former, Mirzakhmedov was on the front foot, but Tashkenbay was fully in control despite facing the full-front attack. Round three saw the match wake up, with the Uzbek stunning the Kazakh in the opening minute, but a double hook to the head from Tashkenbay was the highlight.
Mirzakhmedov was at its best in the second half, landing some clear strikes on his opponent between the gloves and avoiding any retort from Tashkenbay. The pressure continued to mount, but his dominance in the beginning and his management in the latter stages gave Tashkenbay the victory.
Unlike his compatriot in the opening match, Makhmud Sabyrkhan would control his 57kg bout against Martinez Perez by being the aggressor.
Able to take his opponent into the ropes of several occasions and land some clean strikes, it was one of the most decisive wins of the night. Martinez Perez would have a fantastic end to the bout, showing much-needed activity, but the damage had already been done by Sabyrkhan.
The next IBA Champions’ Night is to take place in Moscow tomorrow.