By Francisco Salazar
There have been a lot of lightweights that have recently made the move north to the 140-pound division, where lucrative bouts await. However, one fighter is doing the complete opposite.
While some might think that would be a ludicrous idea, Denis Shafikov is very certain he will find just as much success regardless.
Shafikov will make his debut at the lightweight limit on March 16th, when he fights Alisher Rahimov in a scheduled 10 round bout at the Sports Palace “Znamya” in Noginsk, Russia.
So why would Shafikov decide to leave the 140-pound division, where he is ranked number two by a major sanctioning body?
Shafikov (31-0-1, 17 KOs) is not a big fighter for the 140-pound weight class. Although he has fought as high as 147 pounds, his five foot five inch stature may be a disadvantage against the “bigger” junior welterweights.
Thus, the move down to the lightweight limit, where potential bouts with Adrien Broner, Ricky Burns, Miguel Vazquez exist.
Before those fights materialize, Shafikov has to get by Rahimov, whose only loss was a 10 round unanimous decision to Ji Hoon Kim on May 25th.
“I’ve made a concerted effort to cut weight and it’s not a problem for me to make the weight for the 16th,” Shafikov told BoxingScene.com through translator and promoter Steven Bash. “I already weigh 139 pounds and we are two weeks from the fight.”
While media and die hard boxing fans in the United States are familiar with Shafikov, some may question if the Russian fighter may become a major player in the lightweight division.
He does have recent victories over fringe junior welterweight contenders in Giuseppi Lauri, Lee McAllister, Brunet Zamora, and most recently, Albert Mensah. However, he wants to train and fight more in the United States, where he figures exposure could guarantee him those fights he so desires.
“I’ve sparred in the United States recently because I’m looking to fight in the United States. More exposure could help in getting me fights against the top fighters at 135 pounds.”
Shafikov has business to take care of against Rahimov on March 16th. But if he had his way, he would be fighting for a world title as soon as he can. A victory over Rahimov may just be his ticket to that fight.
“I’m certainly ready. I could definitely fight for a world title today.”