Khabib “The Hawk” Allakhverdiev, the WBA and IBO light-welterweight champion, hopes a dominant performance against former world champion Souleymane M’baye in Monte Carlo on July 13 will lead to bigger fights down the track.
The Russian southpaw (18-0, 8 KOs) captured the vacant belt against unbeaten Joan Guzman last year when Guzman damaged his knee in the eighth round, Allakhverdiev winning a technical decision.
The quick-handed southpaw meets a wily performer in number two-ranked M’baye (40-4-1, 22 KOs), a ring veteran who has twice held versions of the world title.
The pair fight on the Golden Gloves’ “Million Dollar Super Four” fight card at the grand Salle des Etoiles arena in Monaco.
“Everything is going according to plan,” said Allakhverdiev from his hometown of Kaspiysk in Russia, situated on the shores of the Caspian Sea. “We are wrapping up the first phase of strength training with my brother Shafitdin and trainer Ali Piduriev.”
He says the second phase will shortly begin in Moscow, where he will relocate ahead of his transfer to Monaco. In Moscow he will team up with trainer, former light-middleweight and middleweight world champion John David Jackson, doing sparring and working on speed.
“I mostly train with my brother, who knows me best, and with Ali. However, in the last two years I have also learned a lot from John David, particularly during our last training period. I believe I grew . . . John David saw serious potential in me. He put a lot of effort into improving my skills. He also taught my brother a lot, so time with him is very valuable.”
Allakhverdiev rates M’baye as a very good boxer and says he always comes in fit and strong. “I’ve seen him and know he is a strong fighter. The last fight he lost [against Ismael El Massoudi] was simply due to a foot injury. He doesn’t fall easily, be breathes well and paces himself.
“My fight won’t be a walk in the park. The fact that he is older – 38 years to my 30 years – doesn’t mean he won’t be strong. A lot of fighters, like Juan Manuel Marquez and Guillermo Jones, had their peak years around the same age as M’baye. However, I will be better prepared and am confident of victory.”
Known for his come-forward style and accurate punching, Allakhverdiev is predicting an exciting fight. “We’ll put on a good show and it won’t be one of those where the audience falls asleep, believe me.”
He says the Guzman fight seven months ago brought him great satisfaction, not least because it was against a highly-regarded opponent.
“I felt fulfilled, especially as people didn’t believe I would win. The bets were 1-6 against me. American experts were confident I would lose, but I surprised him.
“Guzman is talented, but known as badly disciplined. However, before the fight he pulled his socks up and worked hard. Everyone expected him to win but he didn’t.”
The Russian hopes a good win on July 13 will lead to a breakthrough fight in the US where he says he would be willing to take on allcomers, including Lucas Matthyse and Mike Alvarado.
“Tell my fans I won’t let them down,” he said. “I wish them good health and good luck. Secondly, thanks for believing in me. Please pray to God that I win.”