Streaming action from Kazakhstan to begin at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT – LIVE on ESPN+ (click here)
Two-time World Championships silver medalist Kamshybek Kunkabayev, from Kazakhstan, will continue his fast track to a world title shot Saturday. Kunkabayev (2-0, 2 KOs) will take on Server Emurlaiev in a 10-rounder for the WBO Asia Pacific cruiserweight title from Baluan Sholak Sports Palace in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The Kunkabayev-Emurlaiev card, promoted by MTK Global Kazakhstan, will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT.
The 29-year-old Kunkabayev turned pro last August with a second-round stoppage over veteran Issa Akberbayev, and less than four months later, he dominated Serhiy Radchenko en route to a fourth-round knockout. As an amateur, Kunkabayev notched victories over 2016 Olympic gold medalist and current heavyweight prospect Tony Yoka, 2019 World Championships gold medalist Bakhodir Jalolov, and 2019 World Championships bronze medalist Maxim Babanin. Emurlaiev (23-1, 9 KOs), who once challenged for an interim super middleweight world title, returned from a nearly nine-year layoff last Saturday and bested Ajmal Zarif via first-round disqualification.
In other streaming action:
Kazakh prospect Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4 KOs) will fight Russian veteran Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, KOs) in a 10-rounder for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental lightweight belt.
Welterweight prospect Talgat Shayken (3-0, 2 KOs), a 20-year-old from Koksetau, Kazakhstan, will face Evgeny Pavko (18-3-1, 13 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Shayken turned pro last August and has won his last two via stoppage.
In an eight-round cruiserweight tilt, four-year pro Ali Baloyev (10-0, 7 KOs) will step up in class against 39-year-old Russian Denis Tsaryuk (12-4, 10 KOs).
Southpaw boxer-puncher Abay Tolesh (6-1, 4 KOs), who bounced back with a knockout win last December following a split decision defeat, will fight Vasily Shtyk (2-2, 2 KOs) in an eight-rounder at middleweight.
In a six-round featherweight battle of Kazakh unbeatens, Torgynbek Amirov (3-0) will clash with Bektas Kassenay (4-0, 1 KO).
Saturday: Kazakh Star Kamshybek Kunkabayev Returns Against Server Emurlaiev LIVE on ESPN+
Kamshybek Kunkabayev: This win can lead to big things! Kamshybek Kunkabayev believes his return to the ring on Saturday’s #MTKFightNight can be the starting point for huge fights with some of the best cruiserweights in the world.
Undefeated Kunkabayev (2-0, 2 KOs) takes on another tough test against Server Emurlaiev (23-1, 8 KOs) at the Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications in Almaty, Kazakhstan, live in the US on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and worldwide on IFL TV.
It is the first title fight of Kunkabayev’s career, with the vacant WBO Asia Pacific cruiserweight title also on the line, and the Kazakh phenom is hoping a victory here sets up a massive 2021.
Kunkabayev said: “This is the right opponent for my professional growth. This is my first title fight and this win can be the starting point for fights against boxers from the top ratings of various organisations.
“During the last few weeks, training has been focused on special exercises. I was training along with the national boxing team of Kazakhstan in the USA, and we developed endurance, speed and strength.
“I was satisfied with the two fights I had last year. The guys who I boxed were really strong and famous fighters with good experience in the professional ring.
“I have noticed a number of things that I can use on my upcoming opponent, but for now it is too early to talk about it. Let’s not spill the beans, the ring will show everything!”
NURTAS AZHBENOV READY FOR TOUGHEST TEST YET
Nurtas Azhbenov is excited to test his skills against a serious operator when he meets Evgeny Smirnov on Saturday’s #MTKFightNight event in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Unbeaten Azhbenov (10-0, 4 KOs) faces Smirnov (13-1-3, 3 KOs) at the Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, live in the US on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and worldwide on IFL TV.
The fight is also for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental lightweight title, and Azhbenov is relishing the chance to take on a dangerous opponent.
Azhbenov said: “I have in front of me a very serious fighter, and someone who will also be striving for victory. He has good motivation, so it’s going to be an interesting battle.
“The coaches and I have been studying him, and we have noted to ourselves a few areas we can capitalise on. I like it when skilful fighters confront me, and hopefully the viewers watching on TV will enjoy.
“Each fight is different in its own way. You get new motivation each time and you need to start preparing almost from scratch in terms of psychology. The main thing is knowing what you want to do in your head and the ability to show that in the ring.
“I will be doing all I can to win this fight. Everything has gone according to plan in training and I have made sure to peak on fight night.”
Talgat Shayken tells Evgeny Pavko: Let the best man win!
Highly-rated Talgat Shayken has a huge step up in competition against Evgeny Pavko on Saturday’s #MTKFightNight – and the Kazakh wonderkid is thrilled to be involved in a 50-50 showdown so early in his career.
Unbeaten Shayken (3-0, 2 KOs) faces Pavko (18-3-1, 13 KOs) at the Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, live in the US on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and worldwide on IFL TV.
It’s a big test for 20-year-old Shayken, with Pavko going the distance with Michael McKinson in his last bout, but the Kazakhstan man is looking forward to the opportunity.
Shayken said: “I am very excited for this fight. Evgeny Pavko is an experienced guy, and it will be very interesting. It will be important for me to produce a big performance in this bout and to please my fans with another victory.
“Pavko has more than 22 fights under his belt, and he has won 18 of them, so I expect aggressive boxing from him. I want this to be a competitive fight and let the best man win.
“Boxing is a rivalry between two people, where the victory often goes to the one who is better prepared. I’m not focusing on any of Pavko’s weaknesses, instead I always like to rely on my own capabilities and take advantage of the tremendous work that we do in training sessions.
“I am grateful to MTK Global and to Head of MTK Kazakhstan Askar Salikbayev for their productive work. I hope this year we’ll be able to get the world back on track, and I wish all of my fans prosperity and success.”
Elsewhere on Saturday’s huge card, some of Kazakhstan’s best stars are featured, as Kamshybek Kunkabayev (2-0, 2 KOs) takes on Server Emurlaiev (23-1, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific cruiserweight title, and Nurtas Azhbenov (10-0, 4 KOs) faces Evgeny Smirnov (13-1-3, 3 KOs) for the vacant WBC Asia Continental lightweight title.
Ali Baloyev (10-0, 7 KOs) meets Denis Tsaryuk (12-4, 10 KOs) in a cruiserweight contest, Abay Tolesh (6-1, 4 KOs) goes up against Vasily Shtyk (2-2, 2 KOs), and a clash of undefeated fighters sees Bagdat Uaydayev (3-0) face Sagyndyk Moldashev (2-0, 1 KO).
There is also a packed undercard, which features the likes of Torgynbek Amirov (3-0), Nurbol Sultanbay (4-0, 1 KO), Rakhat Seitzhan (3-0, 2 KOs), Nurdos Tolebay (4-0, 2 KOs), Aidos Medet (4-0, 3 KOs) and Zhansaya Rakhymberdi (2-0).
IFL TV BROADCAST BEGINS 10:30am GMT / 4:30pm local time
Women’s Flyweight, 6 Rounds
ZHANSAYA RAKHYMBERDI (50.5kg / 111.3lbs) vs. AIYM ZHUMABAY (50.2kg / 110.6lbs)
Featherweight, 6 Rounds
AIDOS MEDET (57kg / 125.6lbs) vs. BEKBOSSYN YERKINULY (56.9kg / 125.4lbs)
Super-Lightweight, 6 Rounds
NURDOS TOLEBAY (63.4kg / 139.7lbs) vs. ZHANDOS YEREZHEPOV (63.3kg / 139.5lbs)
Super-Welterweight, 6 Rounds
RAKHAT SEITZHAN (69.1kg / 152.3lbs) vs. ZHANAT ZHAKSYLYK (69kg / 152.1lbs)
Welterweight, 6 Rounds
NURBOL SULTANBAY (66.5kg / 146.6lbs) vs. NURZHAN MAKASHBAYEV (66.3kg / 146.1lbs)
Lightweight, 8 Rounds
TORGYNBEK AMIROV (61kg / 134.4lbs) vs. AIDYN SIKHYMBAYEV (61.1kg / 134.7lbs)
ESPN+ BROADCAST BEGINS 9:00am EST / 6:00am PT / 2:00pm GMT / 8:00pm local time
Featherweight, 6 Rounds
BAGDAT UAYDAYEV (57kg / 125.6lbs) vs. SAGYNDYK MOLDASHEV (56.8lbs / 125.2lbs)
Middleweight, 8 Rounds
ABAY TOLESH (72.1kg / 158.9lbs) vs. VASILY SHTYK (72kg / 158.7lbs)
Welterweight, 8 Rounds
TALGAT SHAYKEN (66.5kg / 146.6lbs) vs. EVGENY PAVKO (66.3kg / 146.1lbs)
Vacant WBC Asian Continental Lightweight Title, 10 Rounds
NURTAS AZHBENOV (61.2kg / 134.9lbs) vs. EVGENY SMIRNOV (61.2kg / 134.9lbs)
Vacant WBO Asia Pacific Cruiserweight Title, 10 Rounds
KAMSHYBEK KUNKABAYEV (90.6kg / 199.7lbs) vs. SERVER EMURLAEV (90.7kg / 199.9lbs)