18.10.05 – By Wray Edwards: A few weeks back, while in Atlanta for the Sim-Elder fight, we had the pleasure of speaking with the camp of heavyweight Sultanahmed Ibragimov, 18-0-0 (15 KO’s) from Rostov-na-Donu, Russia. The big guy (6’2, 233) was there to scrap with Nigerian Friday Chinedu Ahunanya (6′, 221) from Las Vegas, NV, USA. If those two names won’t break your keyboard, nothing will. Their bout was to determine the WBO Asia-Pacific title. They were, as it turned out, the main event.
Sultan, who looks remarkably like the actor John Goodman in the eyes, has very fast hands for a heavyweight. Neither fighter was possessed of dazzling foot-work, and are both from the “comin’ right atcha” school of boxing. As Sultan is a southie, there was a lot of toe-mashing during the bout. Friday, 20-4-2 (11KO) with whom we sat briefly at breakfast, trains under the watchful eye of Luis Tapia at Johnny Taco’s in Las Vegas. There was a gentleman in his entourage by the name of Andy Scrivani. We had a long talk which will be the subject of another piece in a day or two. He was a hoot.
The ring at the Gwinnett Center, north of Atlanta, was a mushy, WWE style affair, with irritating, sound-effect clap-boards. The two hulksters looked like they were fighting on a really thick turf of Saint Augustine grass. They both got to each other on a regular basis with a pretty fair edge to Sultan for accuracy, quick combos and backing out without getting hit. That’s not to say he didn’t get hit backing out. They both seemed to lack lateral skills.
There was a certain Sumo quality to their taurian charges which was not altogether unpleasant. The author is quite fond of Sumo. The object, of course, was to get one’s girth close enough to deliver punches. Somehow, during the round breaks, Sultan seemed to have decided to fix his gaze on the author which was slightly unnerving. Perhaps our countenance had a soothing effect. The fight lasted for nine rounds and was filled with commendable action for heavyweights.
Sultan, world rank 44/1032, and Friday 77/1032 took it to each other with dedication and courage into round nine. Then, in the middle of the ring, as the two were fighting inside, Friday tried a left, which took his head to the left side of Sultan’s head just as Ibragimov crafted a pretty good left hook of his own. The net effect was to drive the left, orbital ridge of Friday’s eye into Sultan’s head. This caused a pretty severe cut which bled profusely. To his credit, as Sultan was waved to a neutral, he had a look of utter disappointment as he realized that it was now likely that the bout would end as a result of the unintentional injury to Friday.
Ahunanya begged the doc and his seconds to let him continue, but the cut was just too serious. Referee Korb had done a great job keeping these two hard at it, and there had not been any hint of head-but action before the injury. It was just unfortunate that the fight, which was going to Sultan (84-88 | 83-88 | 83-87) had to end on that note. It is again worth mentioning that Ibragimov’s hand-speed is a considerable asset along with his ability to take a punch when necessary.
Sultan’s next opponent will be Joe Goosen’s “American Valuev,” 33 year-old, 6’8″ Lance Whitaker. Ibragimov will face Whitaker, 31-3-1 (26 KO’s) on December fifteen at the Hollywood, Florida Hardrock. At 330 pounds, plus or minus, Lance is ranked 13/1032 and represents a gatekeeper’s challenge for Sultan to flirt with top ten opportunities. This bout will be a real test for Sultan as he faces Whitaker who will hardly have to leave his corner to fight in the middle of the ring with his eighty-four inch reach! Should be quite unusual.
The other Russian there that night, was not so successful. Lightweight Rustam Nugaev, 15-4-0 (7KO) now living in Hollywood, Florida took on Mexican Luis Arceo, 19-3-2 (13) from Aguascalientes, AG. Luis “El Vampiro” lives in Tijuana the minor Mecca of Mexican boxing. It was not Arceo who experienced the “hot water” this time.
Their fight was like the other two – filled with action and entertaining to all in attendance. There was, however, one additional dynamic resulting from their clash. Never, in thirty years of watching boxing matches, has this writer seen so much sweat in the air. The superb lighting of the Gwinnett Center accentuated the constant shower of moisture from both fighters.
Back and forth they went giving each other merciless pummelings. Both fighters displayed incredible heart and energy. It was pretty warm in there, and that added to the precipitation which was liberally showered on everyone near the ring. This fight between twenty-three year-old Nugaev, 98/1049 and twenty-six year-old Arceo, 140/1049 was an incredible bang-fest. Admitting a certain addiction to sluggers, this writer was well-pleased.
Finally, about the middle of round six Arceo began to dominate, saw an opportunity, turned up the wick and beat Rustam close enough to helplessness that the ref stepped in to protect the Russian. Arceo would not be described as an artist in the ring, but he showed that MexiCan quality which so often brings victory to our friends from south of the border. Their contest was proof positive that a really good scrap can come at any level in the rankings. In fact these rankings are possibly hungrier territory with less politics. The great pool of boxing talent is revealed by such matches, and these two were well matched.
Better late than never…have had these reports on the back burner for quite a while. Will be at the Hardrock for Sultan’s next adventure. He is, after all, still undefeated and quite an interesting prospect. See you at the fights.