EDDIE Hearn’s Matchroom boxing delivers arguably its best fight card of the year on Saturday night and its likely you’ve never heard of many of the champions or challengers due inside the ropes.
Three world title fights go down in Texas, featuring the two best female welterweights on the planet, a young prodigy vs an icon, and a main event that could set up the next superfight.
Uzbeki southpaw Murodjon (MJ) Akhmadaliev defends his championships and super-bantamweight #1 status against California’s Ronny Rios in the San Antonio headliner.
Just 21 days after Stephen Fulton – the other undefeated leading light at 122lb – comprehensively outboxed Danny Roman, it’s MJ’s turn to impress and push for a showdown to determine who is the division’s top dog.
It has taken Rios (33-3) five years to get back to the summit of the sport, having fallen short challenging for world honours in 2017. But he’s gone 5-1 since, including a four-fight win streak.
Critically, however, he’s been inactive for the last 16 months. During that time, Akhmadaliev has made two defences.
Included in the current trend of former Olympic medallists to jump into world title contention inside single digit pro fights, Akhmadaliev’s short but unblemished 10-fight pro record (7 KOs) has moved him rapidly to the division’s summit.
In the chief support, Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez, 22, takes on the toughest assignment possible in the maiden defence of his super-flyweight world title against Thailand’s former kingpin Suriyan Sor Rungvisai.
The challenger is 11 years older, has had 57 pro fights and boasts wins over the biggest names in the division. In fact, Rungvisai has nearly three times as many knockout wins than Bam has had fights.
But if there’s one thing we know about boxing’s youngest world champion, he loves a challenge. Last time out, in his 15th fight, he jumped up a weight division at five days notice to upset Mexican veteran Carlos Cuadras and claim gold.
Victory over Rungvisai would eclipse that, especially in his home city. But Rodriguez’s chin faces its biggest test to date.
In the ring these fighters are Armed and Dangerous!
We have another banger this fight week!!!!
— BOXING n BBQ (@BOXINGnBBQ) June 19, 2022
And, not to be overlooked, Chicago’s Jessica McCaskill (11-2) defends her throne at 147lb against the #2 welterweight, Mexico’s Alma Ibarra (10-1), also on this card.
The girls could steal the show as both are teak tough and refuse to take a backwards step. McCaskill flipped the division on its head with her two wins over Hall of Famer Cecilia Braekhus, but Ibarra has been active and impressive of late.