Saturday, December 09, 2023  |


Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs. Kevin Gonzalez WBA eliminator set for December 16

Murodjon Akhmadaliev (left) takes it to Ronny Rios during their IBF/WBA 122-pound title fight at Tech Port Arena, in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing
Fighters Network

Murodjon Akhmadaliev could be one win away from again capturing a portion of the junior featherweight championship.

Standing in his way is a virtual unknown, which is always dangerous in the fight game.

Akhmadaliev, ranked No. 4 by The Ring at 122 pounds, will face Kevin Gonzalez in a WBA world title elimination bout on December 16, Matchroom Boxing announced Saturday. The 12-round bout will take place at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona and will precede the world flyweight unification bout between Sunny Edwards and Jesse Rodriguez.

Both fights will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).

The 29-year-old Akhmadaliev (11-1, 8 knockouts), who is originally from Chust, Uzbekistan and now lives and trains in Indio, California, captured both the IBF and WBA world junior featherweight title belts in January 2020, defeating Danny Roman by split-decision. Akhmadaliev would make three successful defenses of the unified titles, the last coming on June 25 of last year, stopping Ronny Rios in the 12th round.

Akhmadaliev would lose both world title belts in his last bout on April 8, losing by split-decision to Marlon Tapales of the Philippines by split decision. Tapales is facing Naoya Inoue, who owns both the WBC and WBO world title belts, in a clash for the undisputed championship.

Despite the setback, Akhmadaliev is confident he is one of the best junior featherweights in boxing and will again hold a world title belt.

“I am excited to return to the ring,” said Akhmadaliev, who is managed by Vadim Kornilov and trained by Joel Diaz. “No matter what happened in the last fight, my goal is to fight for justice and to return what is mine.”

Gonzalez (26-0-1, 13 KOs), who resides in Culiacan, Mexico, defeated fringe contender Jose Sanmartin in his last bout on March 25. Sanmartin lost a questionable split decision to unbeaten Shabaz Masoud on Saturday night in Newcastle, England.

The 25-year-old does have victories over Emanuel Rivera Nieves, once-beaten Alexander Mejia, and Ivan Morales. Despite being the underdog going into the fight against Akhmadaliev, Gonzalez is confident his skill-set and tenacity will be the deciding factor in being victorious on December 16.

“I feel very happy and optimistic with the opportunity that has been given to me,” said Gonzalez, who is promoted by Juan Ivan Orengo and managed by Jacob Najar. “I will have a very difficult fight, probably the toughest fight of my life. Akhmadaliev is a former unified world champion, who not only has had a very successful professional career, but had a great amateur record as well. While I believe he is a very tough fighter, I also believe boxing is a sport of timing and moments, and this is my moment.

“I will make the most out of this moment so everyone can see that Mexico has a great product. I don’t see myself losing. Failure is not an option. This will be a very tough fight and I am preparing accordingly, both physically and mentally. This fight will be a crowd-pleasing fight. I’m prepared to go through hell and I am ready for a war.”

Also taking place on the Matchroom Boxing card, unbeaten flyweight prospect Galal Yafai will square off against Rocco Santomauro in a 10-round bout.

Yafai (5-0, 4 KOs) stopped Tommy Frank in his last bout on August 19. The 30-year-old southpaw resides in Birmingham, England.

Santomauro (22-2, 6 KOs), who resides in Apple Valley, California, lost by unanimous decision to flyweight contender Ricardo Sandoval in his last bout on June 10. The loss snapped a nine-bout winning streak.

Also on the DAZN stream, junior featherweight prospect Peter McGrail (8-0, 5 KOs) of Liverpool, England will face his toughest test to date as a pro, squaring off against Detroit’s Jarico O’Quinn in a 10-round bout.

McGrail’s younger brother, Joe McGrail (7-0,3 KOs), will square off against Mexico’s Brandon Rosales Marquez (6-5-2) in a six-round bout.

Junaid Boston (7-0, 6 KOs) of Rotherham, England faces Detroit’s Gordie Russ II (6-0, 6 KOs) in an eight-round bout between unbeaten junior middleweights. 

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]