Former Interim cruiserweight world champion Youri “El Toro” Kalenga will provide chief support February 18 for pro-debuting Moroccan amateur boxing sensation Mohammad Rabii on the “Battle of Casablanca” card, presented by Nowhere2Hyde, at Complexe de Sportif Mohammed V Arena in Casablanca, Morocco.
Kalenga (22-3, 15 KOs), fighting out of France by way of The Congo, is currently rated No. 12 by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and No. 16 by the World Boxing Council (WBC). The knockout artist takes on Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson (17-11-1, 9 KOs), of Philadelphia, who is a former United States Boxing Association (USBA) and North American Boxing Federation (NABF) champion.
In 2014, Kalenga captured the WBA Interim title with a 12-round split decision over 32-1 Mateusz Masternak in Monaco, followed with a successful title defense in Canada against 12-0 Denton Daley by way of a 12th round technical knockout.
Kalenga has never been in a dull fight. Two of his three career losses have been to current WBA Super cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev (26-2), who Kalenga dropped in the fourth round, by way of a 12-round unanimous decision in Russia, and last June he was stopped for the first time in his seven-year pro career by 20-0 Yunier Dorticos in Paris for the Interim WBA strap.
The 23-year-old Rabii defeated 2016 Olympic gold medalist Daniyar Yeleussinov in the welterweight division championship finale of the 2015 AIBA World Amateur Championships to capture a gold for his native Morocco. Rabii won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, dropping a highly-disputed decision (0-3) in the semifinals to Uzebek boxer Shakhram Giyasov, the eventual silver medalist.
The ultra-charismatic Rabii has reached “rock star” status in Morocco, testament by an average of 6-million Moroccans viewing each of Rabbi’s Olympic matches on Arryadia Television. “We are very excited to work with our television partners, Arryadia, on our February 18th show as the first of five shows in 2017 featuring Mohammed Rabii,” promoter Gary Hyde said. “Rabii has the entire nation of Morocco behind him and he will be challenging for top welterweight honors in no time at all.”
Rabii will take on veteran Hungarian boxer Adam “Bad Boy” Mate (24-10, 17 KOs) in the six-round main event.
Also in action on “Battle of Casablanca” will be former World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Organization (IBO) world featherweight champion, Simpiwe Vetyeka (29-3, 17 KOs), who is world ranked No. 4 by the WBA, No. 6 by The Ring magazine, and No. 7 by the WBC. The gifted South African faces undefeated Hungarian prospect David Nerna (8-0, 8 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
Netherlands light middleweight Gevorg Khatchikian (24-2, 12 KOs) will also be in action against Ugandan Med “Kabona” Sebyala (16-8-1. 13 KOs) in another 10-rounder. Khatchikian, who will be fighting as a 154-pounder for the first time as a professional, has only lost twice as a pro, both to present super middleweight world champions, James Degale (IBF) and Gilberto Ramirez (WBO).
Hyde manages Rabii, Kalanga and Vetyeka.
Tickets are now on sale for the Feb. 18 show in Casablanca.