By Sasha Pushkin
According to sources with knowledge both in Russia and overseas, there’s a natural chance that the IBF lightweight mandatory defense of the belt between reigning champion Mickey Bey (21-1-1, 10 KOs) and his mandatory challenger Denis Shafikov (35-1-1, 19 KOs) is potentially going to take place in Russia (most probably in Moscow) under promotion of “World of Boxing” at a venue and a date to be further discussed.
“World of Boxing” has yet to announce its first boxing card of 2015, which is tentatively set for March 28 with more events to follow in the spring. No official confirmation of this info has been received - but Andrey Ryabinskiy, the owner of the “World of Boxing”, was reportedly very impressed with Shafikov’s recent improvement and wondered why he had been contacted so late on a fight of such magnitude.
IBF #1 Shafikov, a perennial contender in the last few years, received and blew his title chance a year ago, being convincingly outpointed by then-champion Miguel Vazquez in another of the Mexican’s trademark snoozers. Vazquez, who had been holding the red belt for over four years, was then defeated by Bey in a stinker last September that many observers felt was won by the champion and not the challenger. Meanwhile, Shafikov re-established himself with a thrilling and bloody win over kayo-minded compatriot Rustam Nugaev in August. He stayed warm in December, scoring a unanimous decision over Miguel Angel Mendoza in a tune-up appearance.
Bey and Shafikov had until the 14th of February to sign a deal for the fight, which was highly unlikely given the fact that Shafikov is promoted in the States by the Top Rank, while Bey is a part of Mayweather Promotions.
Indeed, negotiations have hit a brick wall.
“We’re pretty much sure that no agreement will be reached to the date”, commented representatives of the Ural Boxing Promotions, Shafikov’s Russian co-promoters, several days ago. “Both teams are obligated to wait for a purse bid to take place in a two-week span after 2/14”.
As it has been the case recently, when a Russian fighter participates in a world title collision, the shadow of the newest Russian boxing tycoon is looming overhead. Ryabinskiy, a major player on the local scene for the last two years, staged several big events with some of Russia’s biggest boxing stars. The last sound example being the card headlined by Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Jose Luis Castillo. Also, Ryabinskiy often stages fights involving other promoters’ pugilists with mutual agreements.
Team Shafikov refused to comment on the situation, while Mr. Ryabinskiy wasn’t immediately ready for any comments.
Once the fight heads to a purse bid, it will be interesting to see if Ryabinskiy steps in to outbid the competition.