Arslanbek Makhmudov takes on Junior Anthony Wright with exposure as main goal
Rising heavyweight force Arslanbek Makhmudov will face Junior Anthony Wright in a scheduled 10-round NABF title fight on the undercard of WBC titlist Tyson Fury’s contest with MMA star Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.
Makhmudov had originally been tabbed to face Agron Smakici, only for the 6-foot-6 southpaw to withdraw for undisclosed reasons. Instead the 34-year-old will now face an entirely different proposition from the one he initially began training for.
“Our opponent changed and we also changed our preparation, we have enough time,” Makhmudov (17-0, 16 knockouts) told The Ring. “We did good sparring from southpaw to orthodox, but it is OK, we had enough preparation for that.
“I checked him out, it’s a good fight. He fought top guys and he has good experience, he’s fast and good movement. It’s going to be a good experience for me.”
Makhmudov, who holds wins over aged former WBC titlist Samuel Peter (TKO 1) and former world title challengers Mariusz Wach (KO 6) and Carlos Takam (UD 10), impressed on his ESPN debut in July by taking Raphael Akpejiori’s unbeaten record in two-rounds.
The Montreal-based Russian fighter, who trains under the auspices of the well-regarded Marc Ramsay welcomes the opportunity to showcase his skills on the biggest stage.
“It is a big pleasure for me to fight in this event,” he said. “I think Fury-Ngannou is going to be a very good fight but it’s Fury’s territory and for Ngannou it’s going to be a big challenge but still it’s going to be an intense fight and I’m very happy to fight [on the undercard.]”
Makhmudov, who is every bit the modern day heavyweight specimen standing 6-foot-5 and weighting a solid 260-pounds, is inching his way toward a heavyweight title shot.
“Of course, every fight is a step to making closer to my target,” he said. “That’s why we do what we have to do and move forward and I try to do my best.”
Makhmudov’s promoter, Camille Estephan of Eye of The Tiger, feels this is the perfect opportunity for his fighter to gain mainstream attention.
“Arslanbek has been waiting to show the world that he is willing to take on all comers and ready to take the crown,” said Estephan. “We have been patient going through the ranks yet we know he is ready to take the throne. When the opportunity arises, we will take it.
“This fight is of great exposure which should help provide us that opportunity.”
Wright (20-4-1, 17 KOs) was a good amateur winning the Chicago Golden Gloves three times before turning professional in 2011. The Illinois native won his first 10-fights at cruiserweight before fighting Stivens Bujaj to a 10-round draw. However, he lost three of his next six, when he stepped up against Rakhim Chakhkiev (KO 8), Beibut Shumenov (TKO 10) and Ruslan Fayfer (UD 12).
The 37-year-old has since filled out into a heavyweight. He was surprisingly stopped by journeyman Jon Jones (KO 2) but has since returned with two wins.
Makhmudov figures to be too big and strong for Wright, who may prove to be tricky at times but ultimately Makhmudov will grind the American down and stop him before the midway point.
Makhmudov-Wright will be a co-feature to Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou “Battle Of The Baddest” on ESPN Pay-Per-View beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 11:00 a.m. PT and on TNT Sports Box Office at 6:00 p.m.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].