By Alexey Sukachev
According to Nikolay Baklanov, vice-president of Kirill Pchelnikov’s promotional company, his protégé Maxim Vlasov (28-1, 14 KOs) is one step away from a big shot at the IBF super middleweight crown, presently owned by Card Froch of the United Kingdom. To warrant his right to fight the champ, Vlasov needs to overcome tough American opponent Brandon Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KOs) in what seems to be the IBF 168lb eliminator. No confirmation has been received from Team Gonzales at the time of this story.
Vlasov, 27, is coming off a last week’s quick stoppage (KO 4) of limited Maxell Taylor in Costa Mesa, California. Vlasov is rated #4 by the WBC, #7 by the IBF and #12 by the WBO. He is 3-0, 2 KOs, this year. Gonzales, 29, is best known as one of Andre Ward’s chief sparring partners. He is 2-0-1 this year, which includes a controversial draw against South African Thomas Oosthuizen in what many thought was clearly his fight. Gonzales is ranked #6 by the IBF and #13 by the WBC.
The first two places in the IBF super middleweight rankings are traditionally empty. Coming third is Oosthuizen, who elected to fight Eleider Alvarez at a higher weight class. #4 George Groves has already got his chance, while #5 James DeGale looks to target other roads.
“I think that my next fight is set on March 15 in the States”, said Vlasov to Allboxing.ru a couple of days ago. “Yet if I have a chance to fight in Russia in between, I’ll certainly fill in the gap. I hope the coming year will bring me more meaningful and really important fights. My team has a plan. I’ll follow it, and I hope that something big is just one or two steps away”.