Arslanbek Makhmudov returns to Saudi Arabia to face unbeaten Agit Kabayel
Heavyweight powerhouse Arslanbek Makhmudov will look to cap an excellent 2023 when he faces unbeaten Agit Kabayel at the Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Makhmudov, who has 12 first-round knockouts in his 18 fights, recognizes this may be the best opponent he has faced to date.
“This is a very good opponent – top guy,” Makhmudov (18-0, 17 knockouts) told The Ring. “He can box and fight. He’s very good in all aspects. It’s going to be a good chance for me because this guy has experience. He’s a good boxer.”
The 34-year-old didn’t waste any time in his last fight, when he demolished Junior Anthony Wright in just 70 seconds of the opening round on the undercard of Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou in October.
“It was very quick but it’s not about quick time, it’s about the preparation,” he explained. “The fight is good experience for me. He was a good opponent, quick and fast.”
The Russian-born Canadian resident is a Muslim and felt very welcome in the Middle East. and was only too happy to return at the next available occasion.
“It’s like my home now,” he said. “[The] people love me, I loved the city and country, it’s a special place for me.”
If anything the Saudi Arabian businessman, Turki Al-Sheikh has raised the bar for this event in one of the most stacked cards top to bottom in many a year.
Anthony Joshua-Otto Wallin and Deontay Wilder-Joseph Parker co-headline the seismic promotion. Other heavyweight fights featuring Daniel Dubois-Jarrell Miller, Frank Sanchez-Junior Fa and Filip Hrgovic-Mark De Mori.
Ring cruiserweight titlist Jai Opetaia-Ellis Zorro and WBA light heavyweight ruler Dmitry Bivol-Lyndon Arthur, round out the undercard.
“Exactly, it’s one of the biggest cards in boxing history,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to fight on this card and be part of this big event.”
“This win will bring me so close to my title fight, hopefully very soon.”
Makhmudov’s promoter, Camille Estephan of Eye of the Tiger Management, welcomes the opportunity to get his fighter back in action, just eight weeks removed from his win over Wright.
“We are quite pleased for Arslanbek to fight on this card,” said Estephan. “Obviously, it’s a superb night of boxing. We plan to contribute to the success of this event. Kabayel is a very credible opponent undefeated and dangerous and Arslanbek wants to show that he is worthy. We want the biggest names and it all goes through Kabayel.”
Kabayel was a professional kickboxer before switching to boxing in 2011. He bested Herve Hubeaux (UD 12) to claim the European title in 2016 and went on to make three successful defenses, notably beating perennial contender Derek Chisora (MD 12).
However, the 31-year-old’s career stalled due to a persistent shoulder injury and the Covid pandemic. After a few rust-shedding exercises he regained the European title in controversial fashion getting off the canvas to stop Agron Smakici (TKO 3) in March.
This appears as step up for both men. However, Makhmudov looks to be the guy in the ascendancy and if he can hurt Kabayel early, he won’t let him off the hook, like Smakiki did. I think Kabeyel is good enough and has ring smarts to last some rounds but the physical toll will run its course and Makhumdov will get the stoppage in around six rounds.
The bonanza event, featuring Deontay Wilder-Joseph Parker, Anthony Joshua-Otto Wallin and several other intriguing matchups, will be televised on DAZN at 2 p.m. ET/ 11 a.m. PT and 7 p.m. GMT
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].