By Alexey Sukachev
It had been reported earlier by several media outlets that red hot lightweight prospect Denis “Genghis Khan” Shafikov (32-0-1, 17 KOs) had struck a deal with Top Rank, one of the leading promotional companies in the world. However, according to sources with knowledge of the details, Team Shafikov has yet to officially enter a co-promotional agreement with Top Rank (the second party is Chelyabinsk-based Russian company Ural Boxing Promotion). Almost all (if not all) of the details are finalized, the official announcement from Top Rank is awaited in the coming days.
Meanwhile, WBC #2, IBF #4 and WBO #14 Shafikov, a former EBU light welterweight titlist, is scheduled to fight next in less than a week in Laredo, TX, against Nicaraguan southpaw veteran Santos “El Toro” Benavides (23-3-2, 17 KOs). Shafikov, 28, although shorter by two inches than El Toro, will enjoy a slight physical advantage as Benavides, 31, who was last seen in the ring almost two years ago, has fought his last bouts at the super featherweight limit. He is best known for his all-action warfare with Santos Martinez (in 2010) and Rocky Martinez (in 2008) and for his stoppage win over former Venezuelan champion Antonio Cermeno. Shafikov vs. Benavides will be a co-feature of Juan Diaz second fight after his comeback to the ring – against Brazilian Adailton De Jesus. The show takes place on August 17.
Good things come in packs for the Ural Boxing. It also looks like another of their prospects – undefeated 25-year old welterweight Anton Novikov – is also on the brink of getting co-signed by Bob Arum and his teammates in the very near future. WBC #10 Novikov (26-0, 10 KOs) is a solid fighter with good overall technique, who has previously hold titles also at light middleweight and middleweight divisions. He is expected to be tested tough on August 24 at the Civic Auditorium in Glendale, California, another “Red Hot” veteran Robert Frankel (32-13-1, 6 KOs), 33, over ten rounds.
The show is co-promoted by Top Rank and Steven Bash’s Bash Boxing and will also feature an all-Mexican middleweight affair between Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez (25-0, 20 KOs) and Julio Cesar Garcia (46-8, 39 KOs) as well as another fight for rising prospect Jesse Magdaleno (15-0, 11 KOs).