Wednesday, October 04, 2023  |


Arslanbek Makhmudov vows to ‘go hunting and do my best to destroy’ Raphael Akeijiori

The physically imposing Arslanbek Makhmudov. (Photo by Vincent Ethier)
Fighters Network

Heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov will face fellow unbeaten power-puncher Raphael Akeijiori as chief support to Jared Anderson’s homecoming against former titlist Charles Martin on Saturday at the Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio.

Makhmudov, who was the subject of a New Faces in the July 2020 issue of Ring magazine, acknowledges his Nigerian opponent will present problems but none he wont be able to deal with.

“He is a very good opponent,” Makhmudov (16-0, 15 knockouts) told The Ring. “He’s taller than me, it’s not a problem for me. I’ve already met guys taller than me like [Mariusz] Wach, he had more experience than me. This guy is dangerous, in this weight [class] everyone is dangerous. It’s not a problem [laughs.] The thing is whoever does his job better is going to win.

“My goal and target are the same, like usual, I go hunting and do my best to destroy him.”

The 34-year-old Russian-born fighter, who now resides in Montreal, hasn’t fought since a first-round stoppage over Michael Wallisch last December. However, that hasn’t meant he’s not stayed in shape and in training.

Makhmudov is 6-feet-5 and a well chiselled 260-pounds. He keeps himself in excellent shape regardless of an upcoming fight. So, when he does have a fight date he can work on specifics and not have to get in fighting shape.

“After my last fight I took a break, maybe one week,” he revealed. “I do some training but not like sparring but this it’s close to boxing, swimming, running, bicycle stuff [to stay in shape.] I’ve still been active.”

Makhmudov’s American debut will take part on the undercard of another intriguing heavyweight fight between Anderson and late substitute Martin, who steps in for previously unbeaten Zhan Kossobutskiy.

“It’s going to be a good fight, two boxers and what I know about these guys it’s always interesting fights.” he said.

Makhmudov remains focused on the task in hand but hopes to advances his claims to face the big names in his division in the not-too-distant future.

“My goal for this year is to be close to fight for the world title,” he said. “Fight as soon as possible for the title this year or next.”

Makhmudov’s long-time trainer Marc Ramsay, who also works with amongst others IBF, WBC and WBO light heavyweight titleholder Artur Beterbiev, recognizes the potential danger of this fight.

“This is a good fight for us, it is the first pro fight outside of Canada and on ESPN for Arslanbek,” said the much-feted trainer. “The opponent is a big-puncher, especially with the right hand. It will be an explosive fight when you already know the style of Mahkmudov. At the end of the day, I believe Arslan more complete fighter and that will make the difference.”

Eye of The Tiger’s Camille Estephan hopes that by fighting in the U.S. will help garner further attention and push Makhumdov into bigger fights that so far have eluded him.

“We’re happy he’s doing his debut in the U.S.,” said Estephan. “They call him the Lion and he wants to show he’s the king of the jungle. He’s ready to make a statement.

“Every time we talk to one of the promoters about Arslanbek fighting one of their guys, the comment comes back, ‘For him to fight your monster, I want X amount of money.’ Usually a number that is way off the charts. We take it as a compliment.”

Akeijiori (15-0, 14 KOs) was born in Lagos, Nigeria but moved to Wichita, Kansas after receiving a basketball scholarship in 2008. He moved to Miami after being recruited for the university basketball team. He then switched to football and tried out for the Miami Dolphins.

The 6-feet-8 Nigerian then gave boxing a go, going 13-1 as an amateur before turning professional in September 2018. While the level of opposition hasn’t been that high, he has stopped all but one of his opponents needing just 26 professional rounds. The one man to take him the distance was veteran trial horse Terrell Jamal Woods (UD 8).

This is a meeting of two modern day heavyweights. Both have power and this could very well be short and explosive. You have to favor Makhmudov with his vastly more extensive amateur background and stronger pro resume but this fight will be dangerous until it’s over.

Anderson-Martin, plus supporting undercard, will be broadcast on ESPN, beginning at 10 p.m ET/ 7 p.m PT.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].