LAS VEGAS – Now that Vladimir Shishkin has firmly established himself as a super middleweight contender, his promoter is more optimistic about the unbeaten Russian receiving a shot at Canelo Alvarez.
The Mexican superstar supposedly wants to face a less threatening opponent than Dmitry Bivol when he returns to the ring in May for his first fight since he underwent surgery on his left wrist in October. Dmitriy Salita, whose company promotes Shishkin, hopes that the undisputed super middleweight champion will consider Shishkin for that bout in part because Shishkin is right-handed and his style somewhat resembles that of Bivol.
England’s John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs), whose name promoter Eddie Hearn has repeatedly mentioned as a potential opponent for Alvarez’s fight in May, is left-handed. If Guadalajara’s Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) intends to try to avenge his decisive defeat to Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) next September, it wouldn’t make much sense to fight a southpaw who doesn’t own a title in his prior appearance.
“If he wants to fight Bivol, the perfect guy for him to fight to get ready for Bivol’s style is Vladimir Shishkin,” Salita told BoxingScene.com. “We’ve been asking for Canelo for a long time. Now it seems to be the right thing to do. John Ryder’s style is nothing close to Bivol’s style. I think Shishkin has a great chance to win against Canelo, but I just mean that stylistically, he’s closest to Bivol.”
The less experienced Shiskhin (14-0, 8 KOs) out-boxed Venezuelan veteran Jose Uzcategui (32-5, 27 KOs) in their 12-round IBF elimination match last Saturday night at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Shishkin withstood Uzcategui’s power and beat him comfortably on two scorecards (117-111, 117-111, 115-113).
“There were several times when I thought Shishkin could’ve stopped him,” Salita said. “But as they say, there’s level to this and this is the first time Shishkin has been exposed to this higher level of boxing. He’s graduated from every level he’s fought at so far. Because of COVID, he had limited activity. He hadn’t fought since March. He has identified his style, he’s working with ‘Sugar’ [trainer Javon Steward] and I think the sky is the limit for him now.”
By beating Uzcategui, the 31-year-old Shishkin is expected to become the IBF’s second-ranked contender for one of Alvarez’s four 168-pound championships. Shishkin entered the ring ranked ninth by the IBF, two spots lower than Uzcategui, a former IBF super middleweight champion.
Shishkin seemed tired during the championship rounds. He fought through fatigue and a cut over his left eye, however, threw 750 punches and out-landed Uzcategui by 76 punches overall, according to CompuBox’s unofficial statistics.
“He’s got a good chin, good boxing skills,” Salita said. “He came forward, he boxed, showed some flexibility. It was also his first 12-round fight. That has to be on your mind. So, I think overall, I would give him a solid B or a B-plus. That’s what he would give himself as well. But he has shown now that he is a world-class fighter.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.