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IBF/WBA 122-pound titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev to now face Jose Velasquez on November 19

WBA/IBF 122-pound titleholder Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

Unified junior featherweight titleholder Murodjon Akhmadaliev has a new opponent for next Friday night.

Akhmadaliev will now defend his IBF and WBA titles against Jose Velasquez, Matchroom Boxing announced Friday afternoon. The 12-round bout will take place at SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, in support of the main event between WBO middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade and challenger Jason Quigley.

Both fights, including the WBC flyweight title bout between titleholder Julio Cesar Martinez and McWilliams Arroyo, will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).

Velasquez will replace original opponent Ronny Rios, who had to withdraw from the fight due to testing positive for COVID-19. Akhmadaliev and Rios are ranked Nos. 1 and 9, respectively, at 122-pounds by The Ring.

Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7 knockouts), who is originally from Uzbekistan and now lives and trains in Indio, California, will be making his second defense of the IBF and WBA titles. In his most recent bout on April 21, Akhmadaliev stopped Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa, who is ranked No. 10 by The Ring, in Round 5.

The 27-year-old sympathizes with Rios’ predicament but is not overlooking Velasquez.

“I hope that Ronny is feeling well,” said Akhmadaliev, who is managed by Vadim Kornilov and is trained by Joel Diaz. “It’s a shame that he cannot face me but it is a great chance for Jose and I am sure he will put everything into this fight.

“Everything has been good in camp. It’s been a long camp with a couple of fights getting cancelled but we’ve stayed in the gym and I’m ready to defend what is mine.”

Velasquez has split his time between fighting at 118 and 122 pounds over the last several years.

After losing by split decision to Robinson Lavinanza in July 2016, Velasquez has reeled off an impressive string of 21 consecutive victories. Despite his winning streak, Velasquez is not ranked in the top-10 of any of boxing’s four major sanctioning bodies.

The 32-year-old (29-6-2, 19 KOs) has notched noteworthy victories in recent fights. After stopping unbeaten prospect Ramon Averanga in July 2019, Velasquez stopped another unbeaten fighter in current bantamweight contender Melvin Lopez less than four months later.

In his most recent bout on May 22, Velasquez defeated previously-unbeaten bantamweight Ariel Lopez by unanimous decision.



Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.




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