By Francisco Salazar
Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov would want nothing more than to prove he is a legit contender in the junior lightweight division. A convincing victory over Robinson Castellanos could make that happen.
Rakhimov will face Castellanos in a 12 round bout Sunday at DIVS in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
The fight between Rakhimov and Castellanos is a crossroads bout. The southpaw Rakhimov is an aggressive, hard-hitting southpaw against the awkward style of the experienced Castellanos.
At Saturday's weigh-in, Rakhimov weighed in at 129.36 pounds (58.6 kilograms), while Castellanos tipped the scale at 128.9 pounds (56.8 kilograms).
Rakhimov (12-0, 9 knockouts) is originally from Dushanbe, Tajikistan and currently resides in Ekaterinberg. The 24-year-old fights under the RCC Boxing Promotions banner, which is run by German Titov.
Rakhimov last fought on Feb. 10, breaking down former world titleholder Malcolm Klassen before stopping him in round eight. In his previous bout on Sept. 9, Rakhimov won a 12 round unanimous decision over contender Emanuel Lopez of Mexico.
He is currently ranked number nine by the IBF.
Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs), who resides in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, is ranked number six by the WBC.
In his last bout on July 15 of last year, Castellanos dropped then-WBA junior lightweight titleholder Jerzeel Corrales twice, but lost a 10th round technical decision. The fight took place over two months after Castellanos' impressive seventh round knockout victory over Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Junior middleweight contender Magomed Kurbanov will square off against welterweight contender Charles Manyuchi of Zimbabwe in a 10 round bout.
Kurbanov (14-0, 11 KOs) is ranked number seven by the WBA, while Manyuchi (22-3-1, 13 KOs) has won his last two bouts.
Eduard Skavynskyi (8-0, 6 KOs) will face Oleksandr Ivanov (15-3, 8 KOs) in a 10 round welterweight bout.
Fringe junior lightweight contender Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (11-0, 7 KOs) will square off against Victor Alejandro Gonzalez (18-1, 9 KOs) in a 10 round bout.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing