By Alexey Sukachev
Not that Spain isn’t a boxing market or has little tradition in pugilism. The country has produced several world champions, some imported (like Cuban featherweight Jose Legra) but mostly local, with the last notable titleholder being Kiko Martinez, who has recently held the IBF super bantamweight crown.
Still Spain is by no way a boxing hotbed. And when it comes to lighting up, Russians are at the hand. A boxing connection has been formed between the states in 90’s through Tundra Barcelo promotional company and has been intact for several years, when Spain witnessed such fighters as future world champions Roman Karmazin and Dmitry Kirillov.
Now a new wave of Russian fighters are invading Spain on a regular basis. Of three card this week, two will feature Russian fighters.
On Friday, March 10, Empire Sport, represented by Oxana Chernyshova and led by Yuri Fedorov, will show its best in Benidorm. There will be only Russian fighters in the field.
WBO #7, IBF #9, WBA #10 and WBC #13 cruiserweight Maxim Vlasov (37-2, 20 KOs), who has been competing at junior heavyweight for the last two years, went 5-0, 4 KOs, in 2016, including stoppage wins over faded former title challengers Ismayl Sillakh and Rakhim Chakhkiev. He will be kept busy with a fight against Hungarian journeyman Tamas Lodi (18-8-2, 15 KOs), whose biggest wins came against Finns Janne Formsann and Juho Haapoja.
Welterweight Petros Ananyan (10-0-2, 5 KOs), who enjoyed a very busy 2016 (6-0-1, 4 KOs) opened 2017 with a heavy drubbing of former WBA flyweight king Lorenzo Parra (a wide UD over six rounds). He looks to continue this way against Netherlands veteran Innocent Anyanwu (25-19-3, 15 KOs).
33-year old Tajik Sahib Usarov (21-0, 10 KOs), once an active bantamweight, returns to the ring as a super featherweight to get Ruslan Berchuk (11-6, 4 KOs) over eight. Usarov has wins over 2004 Athens gold medalist Yan Barthelemy Varela and reigning Super WBA and IBO bantamweight champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov in his past.
Russian amateur star Artem Chebotarev (1-0, 1 KO) takes on Ghanaian Agoe Ashong (10-1, 5 KOs) over six, while lightweight Ilya Blinnikov (3-0, 1 KO) has possibly bit more than he can chew with a test against Nicaraguan Eusebio Osejo (28-19-3, 8 KOs), who took one former champion to a split decision (Evgueny Gradovich) and another one to a draw (Kiko Martinez).
Also on the card are: light heavyweight Denis Tsaryuk (12-0, 10 KOs), light middleweight Ramzan Baysarov (7-0, 3 KOs) and super featherweight Arslan Magomedov (1-0, 1 KO). The tourney will be televised by Russia’s Match TV.
The day after, Jesus Del Valle of MGZ Promotions unifies his efforts with Russian boxing impresario Andrey Tokarev (who has his own deep connections with Spain) to mix Russians and Spaniards in his own show.
The star of the night is local welterweight powerhouse Kerman “Revolver” Lejarraga (19-0, 15 KOs), who enjoyed a 6-0, 5 KOs, year in 2016. He takes on Hungarian Gabor Gorbics (23-5, 14 KOs) over ten.
Russian female light middleweight Irina Sagaydakovskaya (4-0, 2 KOs) will test his skills against Belgian Najat Hasnouni (3-0-2) over eight. Lightweight Alexander Podolskiy (7-0, 3 KOs) will fight Panamanian Manuel Largacha (8-4-3, 3 KOs). And, finally, Kazakhstani Yerzhan Zhalilov, also managed by Tokarev, risks his unbeaten record versus Nicaraguan Henry Maldonado (20-5, 14 KOs).