Ievgen Khytrov to face Immanuwel Aleem in crossroads match
Lost in the hype and shine of the two main bouts on Saturday at Barclays Center is an intriguing crossroads match that should reveal a highly touted prospect as a contender or a pretender.
When blue-chipper Ievgen Khytrov (14-0, 12 knockouts) takes on Immanuwel Aleem (16-0-1, 9 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round middleweight bout on Showtime Extreme on the undercard of James DeGale-Badou Jack, it will either be a rude awakening for those involved in his career or further proof that Khtrov is what they thought he was all along.
“It’s a big step up, it’s something we had asked for,” said Keith Connolly, who advises Khytrov, along with middleweight Danny Jacobs, among others. “We wanted a chance for Khytrov to prove that he’s on the elite level and after this fight he’s ready to fight anybody. We think he’s ready for a title shot within a fight or two after this.”
The 28-year-old volume-puncher from the Ukraine is a former amateur standout who won a gold medal at the 2011 World Championships and reportedly went a whopping 450-50 in the unpaid ranks. He is co-promoted by Lou DiBella and also advised by Al Haymon, who have high hopes for him in a loaded middleweight division.
“After he breaks down Aleem and knocks him out, he can step up even further,” said Connolly, who also works with Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Ivan Golub, both who should return to the ring in the first quarter of 2017. “After this fight we’re looking for a really substantial fight that will put him on the map. He’s had enough amateur fights and enough amateur experience to compete with the guys on the top level even though he’s only had 14 pro fights.”
Connolly expects a test from Virginia’s Aleem, in the early going. “I think it will be competitive for the first four rounds and then after that I expect Khytrov to really break Aleem down,” he said. “I see a late stoppage in the fight.”