Kholmatov vs. Ford Tonight on ESPN+: Has Raymond Learned from His Early Fights?

By Chris Carlson - 03/02/2024 - Comments

This Saturday night live on ESPN+ from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Otabek Kholmatov and Raymond Ford square off in a 50-50 battle. This fight will be for a vacant strap, and the betting lines have Ford a slight underdog at +125 on BetMGM and +115 on mybookie. Two unbeaten southpaws should make for an intriguing main event so forget the odds and the vacant alphabet, let’s preview and predict this bout.

Raymond Ford is the more experienced boxer from the standpoint of quality opponents. Opposition such as Jessie Magdaleno, Sakaria Lukas, and Edward Vasquez, among others, were key to the improvement we’ve seen out of Ford of late. Yes, Raymond didn’t look all that good versus Aaron Perez, and you could say Edward Vazquez’s hand should’ve been raised instead of Ford’s. The bottom line is Raymond Ford has faced adversity and now can prove he is ready for his spotlight moment.

Similar to Ford entering the pros, Otabek Kholmatov was touted as an amateur. Passing the eye test plus a dominant victory over Thomas Patrick Ward is one thing. Facing a tested boxer in Ford is another thing. Is Kholmatov up for the task? It appears Otabek has the power advantage and height as well but is not much taller after seeing them face-off at the press conference. Let’s get into the Xs and Os off this matchup.

Speaking of power, Otabek looks to do damage with almost every punch he throws. Kholmatov delivers hooks with both hands, many times in rapid-fire combos. A fairly fluid puncher, he will double up on those hooks, especially with the left hand to the head or body. With long arms and good hand speed, he likes to fight at range. He has good footwork and is definitely light on his feet, but he will stand his ground as well. A bad habit Otabek has is leaving large holes in his defense while throwing those home run shots.

Ford has the faster hands and is very active with his jab. Like Otabek, Raymond throws hooks with both hands. He loves the jab-left, whether hook or straight left hand. Ford can’t make the mistake of letting his punch volume drop, given Otabek’s style. Edward Vazquez’s pressure was effective throughout the fight and we saw Ford on the ropes a bunch. He did look somewhat composed, but he also got hit too much. Vasquez was able to land looping punches to the body and up top while Ford was trapped.

Something to remember: Vasquez has only three knockouts. That’s not the case on Saturday versus Otabek. Some fans and media members believe those challenges that Raymond had exposed his ceiling. This boxing podcaster believes it made him a better overall boxer, hence the more prepared. Look for two-way action in the middle of the ring and, at times, on the inside near the ropes. We’ll see some fancy footwork from both in the form of circling and pivoting. 7-5 for either man is a fair prediction in this boxing junkie’s eyes. While neither boxer has an elite defense, Raymond Ford is more responsible in that department. Look for him to time and counter Otabek just enough to get the nod.

Weights: Otabek Kholmatov 125.8 vs. Raymond Ford 125.9
Venado Lopez 125.3 vs. Reiya Abe 125.8
Brian Norman Jr 148.4 vs. Janelson Bocachica 146.6
Bryce Mills 138.7 vs. Gerffred Ngayot 138.7
Troy Isley 159.3 vs. Marcos Hernandez 160.6
Rohan Polanco 143.2 vs. Tarik Zaina 142.4
Floyd Diaz 118 vs. Edwin Rodriguez 117.8
Nico Ali Walsh 156.9 vs. Charles Stanford 155.1
Brandon Moore 242 vs. Helaman Olguin 281.7

My Official Prediction is Raymond Ford by Majority-Decision.

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Side Note: The co-feature is Luis Alberto Lopez vs. a game fighter in Reiya Abe. Lopez will be the aggressor while Abe looks to box on the outside like Ruben Villa did. My Pick: Lopez by UD.
Also, Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul return on DAZN this weekend.

Written by Chris Carlson, Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio