Christian Mbilli believes victory over Demond Nicholson will put title shot within reach
All-action super middleweight Christian Mbilli had been due to support gymmate Artur Beterbiev’s title defense against Callum Smith last month. The card was canceled when Beterbiev needed surgery on his jaw.
Eye of The Tiger acted swiftly to keep Mbilli active, rescheduling his fight against Demond Nicholson to headline a show at Lac Leamy Casino in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, on September 8.
Mbilli, The Ring’s No. 3 rated super middleweight, says he is recalibrated and good to go.
“Like a lot of people, I was disappointed when the [Beterbiev-Smith] fight was postponed,” Mbilli (24-0, 20 knockouts) told The Ring. “But I’m lucky, because my team was able to move my fight against Nicholson a few weeks later so I could defend my WBC and WBA [regional] titles. So I’m ready to give a solid performance!”
The 28-year-old fighter is coming off a taxing 10-round battle with Carlos Gongora, in which although he won a 10-round unanimous decision, he had some tough moments, notably an outstanding eighth frame that will doubtlessly be among the candidates for Round of the Year.
“My last fight was the hardest fight of my career so far,” he said. “It was a tough fight mentally, given the scorecard results. But it was also a fight that taught me a lot about myself, my resilience and, above all, how to push the limits.”
On paper, this should also be an exciting, fan-friendly fight, as most Mbilli fights tend to be.
“This fight is an excellent comeback fight after my last test against Gongora,” he said. “A big fight in perspective for boxing fans, given Nicholson’s aggressive style, which is not to be underestimated.
“He’s an opponent not to be taken lightly. He’s got a lot of experience with big boxing names like [Demetrius] Andrade and [Edgar] Berlanga. He’s a very physical boxer with a great mind. I’m going to exploit his technical flaws.”
If everything goes to plan, Mbilli has no doubt about what he wants next.
“I hope that after this fight, I’ll be even closer to a world championship,” he said. “And yes, why not an elimination [fight] before the end of the year?”
Camille Estephan, of Eye of the Tiger Management, expects his fighter to make a statement against Nicholson.
“Christian is super motivated,” said Estephan. “He wants to jump on the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
“Nicholson is a credible opponent, and certainly the visibility of this event is a great window of opportunity.”
Nicholson (26-5-1, 22 KOs) turned professional in 2013. The Maryland native won his first 10 fights, all inside the distance, before tasting defeat against Lekan Byfield (TKO 6).
The now-30-year-old rebounded with seven wins before drawing with Immanuwel Aleem (D 8) and losing to Steve Rolls (SD 8). Subsequent defeats came against Jesse Hart (TKO 7) and Edgar Berlanga (UD 8). Nicholson won three fights before a loss to two-division beltholder Demetrius Andrade (UD 10) in his most recent bout.
Every time Mbilli fights, it’s must-see TV, and I expect the same in this fight. He has the higher ceiling, and though he will have to be careful of Nicholson’s power, I feel Mbilli will take over in the second half and score a late stoppage win.
Mbilli-Nicholson, plus undercard bouts, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 6:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. PT.
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Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].