Russian born Sultanahmed Ibzagimov, better known to us fans of the pugilistic pursuit as Sultan Ibragimov, follows his dreams of heavyweight grandeur tonight as he defends something called the WBO Asia Pacific Heavyweight Title. For those of us always wanting to be on the leading edge hoping to catch a glimpse of the next “what just might be,” the mini-title fight in Georgia featuring Sultan against Friday “The 13th” Ahunanyah will be a excellent chance to catch the exciting and aggressive lefty.
The 6’2” Ibragimov usually comes into the ring between 215-220 pounds and is trained by Panama Lewis. His undefeated record of 17 wins and 15 knockouts since turning professional in May of 2002 has been built the way most are at this stage – feasting on over-matched and under-talented fighters who simply have the desire to box, even if their ability contradicts their will. Recent steps up in class, if you can call it that, include victories over Alfred Cole (TKO3), Zuri Lawrence (TKO11) and Andy Sample (TKO1). Those would be the biggest names he has faced so far.
On paper, which is often not an indication of truth, the fight against Nigeria’s Ahunanyah is another subtle step up for the 30-year-old Russian. But I don’t really think it is. Ahunanyah brings a decent 20-3-2 record as a professional prizefighter but his 20 wins have come against lesser known fighters than his opponent has faced, and are better described as unknowns. Most of Ahunanyah’s bouts have a recurring theme that the southpaw Ibragimov will have to overcome in order to look impressive – they are boring.
In order to look good and continue his solid knockout ratio, Sultan will have to avoid Ahunanyah’s desire to make love (hold and hug) and not war (fight it out). That will be best accomplished by a high output of punches that pepper the 6-foot, 225-pound “Friday the 13th” as he comes in for the hold. Most recently, Ahunanya sleep-walked to a 10-round draw against Dominick Guinn after losing to light-hitting Taurus Sykes. He hasn’t won in his past three fights as Lance Whitaker woke up in the fifth round of his bout with Ahunanya, decided to throw punches, and stopped the short and stout Nigerian. Prior to that round it was a typical Friday fight, boring.
The heavyweight division continues to look for its next star and Ibragimov just might be the Sultan of Swat that the sport needs. His dimensions (6’2” and 218 pounds) are more of the traditional heavyweights who were built to last the duration of a 12-round championship fight. The 6’5” 260 pound super-sized heavyweight hitters of today can pack a punch but often look as if the need to refuel at the midway point of their 36-minute journey. Sultan looks as if he can carry a fight late, and packing a wallop from the tricky southpaw stance is an undeniable advantage.
Highly regarded by many “in the know,” Ibragimov is an aggressive fighter who attacks the body as well as any big man today. A 2000 Olympic silver medalist, Sultan, who lost the gold medal bout that year to Cuban legend Felix Savon, is part of the Ibragimov boxing family. Cousin Timur is an undefeated 19-0-1 heavyweight with 11 KOs and is also trained by Panama Lewis. He also holds a minor title representing the WBC as its Fecarbox heavyweight titlist. Heavy-hitting boxing families have already been a marketing success as the Ibragimov’s follow the lead set by the Klitschko brothers.
Guilty Boxing will promote the Friday night card with the co-feature bout being an exciting lightweight eliminator between Ebo Elder and Lakva Simm.
While Friday Ahunanya sports a decent record he lacks both the movement required to avoid getting battered and the power to keep Sultan Ibragimov off him for the duration of a fight scheduled for twelve rounds. Looking to make a mark on the division, you can expect the new Sultan of Swat to end things inside the distance as Ibragimov inches his way up the heavyweight heap.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?