By: Ste Rowen
As Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev are preparing to go at it to claim the status of ‘Undisputed’ cruiserweight champion, the only other current undisputed boxer across the sport, will be in the ring, and no doubt impressing the Moscow crowd, as welterweight queen Cecilia Braekhus, 33-0 (9KOs) defends her WBC, IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO belts against 7-0 (3KOs), Inna Sagaydakovskaya of Russia in 10x2minute rounds.
The self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’ was in the ring just two months ago when she fought on the Golovkin vs. Martirosyan undercard against the former WBC champion Kali Reis. She eventually came out the clear winner with a 10-round unanimous decision victory that night, but she had to weather a few rough rounds late on when she took a knee in the 7th and was visibly shook by a right hand in the 8th. Once again though, she proved her elite credentials by regaining control and comfortably seeing out the final rounds, but the unbeaten 147lber, speaking to ‘ESPN Digital’, insists every fight, is a legacy fight,
‘‘It’s a legacy because it’s not just another fight, it’s a fight that is part of a very important card…For me every fight is harder, but they have made me feel at home and I know I can achieve a clear victory against my rival, who comes from a heavier division to try to dethrone me.’’
Her opponent on Saturday will be Russian, Inna Sagaydakovskaya. The ‘Ice Queen’ has earnt her shot at Braekhus in her last two bouts, defeating former IBF junior middleweight champion, Maria Lindberg over ten rounds, and more recently, stopping Jennifer Retzke in impressive fashion, inside two rounds at Almaty Arena, Kazakhstan.
Speaking to ‘Women of Boxing’, Inna was adamant she’s done more than enough to share the ring with the ‘First Lady’,
‘‘I’ve boxed for the national team for many years. I have a lot of experience and it’s not even about how many fights, but who is more prepared and more ready to win on July 21st.’’
Whether it’s bookie’s favourite, Braekhus, or the home crowd’s favourite, Sagaydakovskaya, whoever emerges the victor will have a host of fellow welterweights circling for their opportunity at all the belts with the likes of, American and WBC #1 Layla Carter, unbeaten Zambian, Lolita Muzeya and IBF #1 and Cecilia’s former foe, Klara Svensson readying themselves to be up next.
Mairis Briedis vs. Brandon Deslaurier
As long as there are no unexpected injuries between now and fight night, World Boxing Super Series semi-finalist and Saturday night’s main event reserve, Mairis Briedis will take on 11-1 (1KO), Brandon Deslaurier of France.
The Latvian and former WBC champion proved himself a worthy addition, even in defeat to Usyk, back in January and his bout this weekend is expected to be a relative walkover for the man most view as the 3rd best cruiserweight in the world. Speaking to the WBSS website earlier this month, Mairis seemed happy enough to be included on the card, and be kept in sight of the winner of Usyk/Gassiev,
‘‘I can’t wait to fight again. I’m looking forward to a quality WBSS event and I am sure that the 21st of July will make a great night of boxing for the fans.’’
Fedor Chudinov vs. Nadjib Mohammedi
Former WBA super middleweight champion, Fedor Chudinov will take on Frenchman, Nadjib Mohammedi for the WBA ‘International’ strap Fedor won back in December.
Chudinov, 17-2 (12KOs) is 3 for 3 since his stoppage lost to George Groves back in 2017, and the Russian, with a victory of course, will be adding his name to the exhaustive list of matchups that can be made at 168lb between champions and challengers.
Speaking to ‘Soviet Sport’ he said,
‘‘It will be a very difficult and beautiful battle. I can say that I am ready now as never before. In the past I was not completely sure but now I clearly know my strength.’’
‘‘This time I was trained in America.’’ Fedor now trains out of Big Bear with Abel Sanchez. ‘‘I saw a different look at boxing in general training…He looks and develops the best qualities in the boxer…We run every day on the mountains for 4 miles. We train 6 days a week.’’
Mohammedi, who’s most significant fights have been at light heavyweight, most notably defeats to Kovalev, Cleverly and most recently Gvozdyk, is unbeaten at the super middleweight limit. He made the move down to 168lb in 2016 and is undefeated in his last three bouts.
Serhii Bohachuk vs. Nikolozi Gviniashvilli
The highly rated Ukrainian Serhii ‘El Flaco’ Bohachuk returns to the ring one month on from his 2nd round KO of Cesar Soriano Berumen at The Avalon in California. Bohachuk, who also trains out of Big Bear, is fighting outside of the US as a pro for the first time as he takes on the 19-11-4 (15KOs) Georgian, Nikolozi Gviniashvilli.
‘El Flaco’ currently 9-0 (9KOs) and fighting at junior middleweight has impressed crowds with each limited opponent put in front of him so far and the hope for the weekend is that the former amateur standout will face a sterner test, whilst still being able to dazzle the Moscow crowd, over 8 rounds against Gviniashvilli.
Magomed Madiev vs. Guido Nicolas Pitto
Fighting for the WBA ‘Asia’ and IBF ‘International’ titles, Magomed Madiev, 11-0 (4KOs) of Russia, comes up against Argentine, Guido Nicolas Pitto, 25-5-1 (5KOs).
Madiev, 23, spoke at the end of last year, after Lomachenko had just stopped Rigondeaux, to ‘Soviet Sport’, of his desire to attempt to replicate Loma’s incredible run of victories in so few fights
‘‘I aspire to this. For me, it will be soon. But not all at once. We’ll catch up with Lomachenko…We plan to do it (Title Fights) in the near future. We will try to organise serious battles.’’
His opponent, Pitto was the first man to beat Jack Culcay in 2013, only to lose the rematch six months later. Since then he’s kept mainly to Argentina fighting for national titles. Magomed’s best measurement of success for this weekend will be whether he can get Guido out of there early.
Konstantin Ponomarev vs. Sergey Vorobiev
Another student of Abel Sanchez will take to the ring when 34-0 (13KOs), Konstantin Ponomarev matches up against fellow Russian, Sergey Vorobiev, 6-0 (6KOs).
Up until last year, Ponomarev was campaigning at welterweight, having twice turned down IBF eliminators against Errol Spence and then Carlos Ocampo. Instead the 25-year-old, jumped up two weight classes to challenge for the Russian middleweight belt, which he won via an underwhelming 10-round decision over Pavel Momontov.
The Moscow crowd will be hoping to see more of the welterweight version of Konstantin when the first bell rings against Vorobiev, who could be a potential banana skin in his Russian foe’s momentum.
Denis Shafikov vs. Jhon Gemino
Just over a month on from his 8-round decision victory over Mexican, Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez in California, Denis Shafikov, 39-4-1 (20KOs) takes on Philippine super bantamweight, Jhon Gemino in a stated 10 round super featherweight contest.
It’s a strange matchup, even for a supposed stay busy fight for the Russian. Shafikov is a career lightweight, whilst Gemino, 17-10-1 (7KOs) has won only 2 of his 6 fights above 126lb, but maybe as one man moves down, and another jumps up, the stars will align to give us an unexpected undercard barnstormer.