By Alexey Sukachev
A reliable source in Russian boxing community has confirmed to BoxingScene that a huge fight is pre-planned for March 16 in Noginsk, Russia, as the WBC #5 ranked lightweight Denis Shafikov (31-0-1, 17 KOs) collides with the WBO #6 ranked Uzbek Alisher Rakhimov (25-1, 12KOs) for the vacant WBC Baltic title.
Shafikov, 27, is a former EBU light welterweight champion, who had a strong year in 2012, stopping Lee McAllister (34-2) and convincingly decisioning Brunet Zamora (22-0-2), James Onyango (9-4-1) and Albert Mensah (25-3-1), the latter fight being the IBF eliminator for the #2 spot. Despite being ranked rather high at 140lbs Team Shafikov decided to move down in weight to give their protégé more chances by fighting the opponents of his size in the division, where he can use his power best. Shafikov is still ranked #2 by the IBF at the light welterweight and looks for the occasional opportunity there as well.
Rakhimov, 35, a famed Uzbek amateur (268-18 at unpaid ranks), suffered his first career loss in May 2012, losing closely to Ji-Hoon Kim in the IBF eliminator for the #2 place. He rebounded well, beating Evgueny Kruglik and Michal Dufek in back-to-back fights in October and in November 2012. The Shafikov fight is Alisher’s ultimate chance to get back to the lightweight elite.
The Noginsk show will be co-promoted by the Ural Boxing Promotions (which guides Shafikov) and by Kirill Pchelnikov’s boxing team, whose fighters will also be involved into the promotion. A number of boxers from the both teams will be featured in the undercard.