Thursday, September 21, 2023  |


Ali Izmailov: the bigger the fights, the better I showcase my skills

Fighters Network

Dmitiry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev are the top two fighters in the light heavyweight division. No one can argue with that distinction.

While Bivol and Beterbiev jostle for position as to who is the top fighter at 175 pounds, whether they fight each other or not, Ali Izmailov will attempt to showcase himself as a fighter to watch and prove he belongs amongst the elite in the division.

Izmailov will face Charles Foster tonight at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. The 10-round bout will headline a three-bout ShoBox card (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

At Thursday’s weigh-in, Izmailov weighed in at 174 pounds, while Foster weighed 172.25 pounds.

Tonight’s clash is a compelling bout between unbeaten light heavyweights, who can break into the upper echelon of the division. Both had standout amateur careers, with Izmailov becoming known for his aggressive and hard-hitting style, while Foster is the typical boxer-puncher.

Izmailov (10-0, 7 knockouts), who is originally from Malgobek, Russia and now lives and trains in Detroit, Michigan, last fought on March 11 in a stay-busy fight, knocking out journeyman Marcelo Molina in the opening round. It was his first fight in seven months, defeating Eric Murguia, who entered the bout unbeaten, by unanimous decision.

The 30-year-old will face a southpaw fighter who is taller than him. Despite Foster having more than twice as many pro fights, Izmailov is ready for the challenge he will bring to the ring.

“I want to fight the best,” Izmailov told The Ring through interpreter and promoter Dmitriy Salita. “Foster is a good fighter. This is my opportunity to showcase what I am capable of. Every camp is unique, including this one. I am ready to fight, whether it ends early or goes the distance.”

Salita agrees.

“I’m always investing in talent and Ali is the real deal,” said Salita. “This is a big fight for him on ShoBox. Ali is ranked No. 5 by the IBF and also by the WBO, and Foster is also ranked in the top 15 by the IBF. We understand the business of boxing. The likelihood of us fighting the likes of Bivol or Beterbiev is to become the mandatory (challenger). That is the goal. Some fighters are going to avoid us.

“What I like about Ali is that he is an exciting fighter. He has a shoulder roll that allows him to fight well defensively. Almost like (Floyd) Mayweather. Ali does it the proper way. His trainer, John David Jackson, has said that Ali is a harder puncher than (Sergey) Kovalev.”

Izmailov made his U.S. debut in his sixth pro fight after fighting in Russia and Eastern Europe to start his pro career. After fighting on modest cards in Detroit and Florida, Izmailov will make his ShoBox debut and at the International Boxing Hall of Fame weekend.

While some fighters may be overwhelmed by fighting on bigger cards, Izmailov claims to be more than ready to face Foster on a Showtime platform.

“This fight is on a big stage and I’m ready for this moment,” said Izmailov. “I love the spotlight and I believe the bigger the fights, the better I showcase my skills. This is a big weekend where Hall of Fame fighters and boxing fans will gather to watch this fight. Speaking of the Hall of Fame, I am confident that I will be there one day.”

Izmailov looked up to former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and multiple-weight champion Manny Pacquiao as fighters he looked up to while growing up.

Before reaching the success of those fighters, Izmailiov will need to conquer the light heavyweight division. Whether he faces Bivol or Beterbiev, or both, remains to be seen, but Izmailov is eager to face the upper echelon of the division.

A dominant win over Foster tonight could be a step in that direction.

“After this fight, everyone will know who I am. Before my next fight, people can know about my personal life, including the food and music I like. For now, boxing fans will see what I’m capable of in the ring.”


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 at [email protected]