Sochi, a huge sea hub and a resort in Southern Russia, will celebrate both boxing fans and huge local Armenian community with a nice-packed night of boxing at the WOW Arena in a mountain high resort district Krasnaya Polyana (“The Red Glade”).
The event will take place on June 25 and promoted by a familiar name – Alexey Vasiliev of the A Angels, a relatively new promotional outfit. Vasiliev is best known for making a long-time fruitful relationship with Evgueny Vainshtein in the Ural Boxing Promotions.
Sochi has historical ties to Armenia through its big ethnic community. Of the two Russian-Armenians, both born in their historical homeland, which will collide in the main event, the 30-year-old stylist Vage Sarukhanyan (20-2-2, 4 KOs) is the one, who is based in Sochi. He will be opposed by the 27-year-old grinder Aik “Kadj” Shakhnazaryan (24-4, 12 KOs) in an interesting match-up of styles. A vacant Russian lightweight belt will be at stake in this fight.
“Kadj”, previously known under another nickname – The Humanoid, saw two good runs in his career. He started it in September 2012 with fifteen consecutive wins in just two years, including those over Behzod Nabiev, Alisher Rakhimov and upset artist Felix Lora. The streak ended with two straight losses – to Abner Lopez and future titlist Eduard Troyanovskiy in a span of just three months.
Aik came back strong with yet another eight-fight winning series, which saw him defeating former champion DeMarcus Corley as well as 21-2 Fedor Papazov, 17-2 All Rivera and 34-8-2 Jose Daniel Ruiz, before running into an unheralded fighter in Elnur Samedov – one, which he had lost on an injury-induced TKO. Another setback came during a COVID break, when he was decisioned by Georgiy Chelokhsaev in July 2021.
Meanwhile, Sarukhanyan kicked off his career in 2011 in the States before relocating himself to Russia. After suffering back-to-back blemished (a loss and a draw) to Igor Ivanov in 2014, Vage produced a lengthy streak of solid wins, including former WBC Super Featherweight titleholder Gamaliel Diaz, 27-3 Hedi Slimani and 13-1-1 future upset master Giovanni Straffon. It all ended in February 2018 with an abrupt loss to Japanese journeyman Hurricane Futa. Sarukhanyan is 3-0-1 after that but he hasn’t been in the ring for a year and a half already.
Undefeated Vage’s elder brother and former amateur standout Vladimir Sarukhanyan (14-0, 6 KOs) will also see action on the card. The Russian-Armenian will collide with veteran mover Vyacheslav Gusev (25-6, 8 KOs), who has never been stopped.
Gusev is 35 now, four years older than his opponent, and his best days are behind him. He is durable enough to oppose Sarukhanyan in style as he was able to stay on his feet in one-sided losses to Gary Russell Jr. and Juan Carlos Burgos a long time ago. The fight is scheduled for eight.
The other card’s ten-rounder will see rising heavyweight prospect Arslan Iallyev (12-0, 7 KOs) in a clash against MMA artist and occasional boxer Fabio Maldonado (26-4, 25 KOs).
Iallyev, 24, is coming off a stoppage win over former two-time cruiserweight beltholder Victor Emilio Ramirez in April. Maldonado, 41, is on a four-fight losing streak – being defeated by Oscar Rivas and Olexander Teslenko is Canada, and by Michael Hunter and Carlos Takam in the States. He has been stopped just once in those fights.
Ruslan Fayfer, 30, was at the top of the world less than a year ago. He was one step from challenging for one of the major cruiserweight titles before being stopped by his hammer-punching compatriot Alexey Papin in August of the last year. Just two months later Fayfer was stopped again – now in nine by 4-0 Ali Izmaylov.
Now Fayfer (26-3, 17 KOs) will try to continue his redeem against a fighter, who has fought just twice over the last eight years. Server Emurlayev (23-2, 8 KOs), who was also scheduled to fight on June 11, will bring a nice record and a long-time rustiness, which should help Fayfer to win it handily.
There are several other prospects on the card, which includes Belarussian maverick Evgeniy Dolgolevets (5-0, 3 KOs), who has defeated 19-1-1 Cheloksaev and 22-3 Papazov in his last two fights.