The date and the next opponent of “The Lion,” Arslanbek Makhmudov, are now known. The current NABA and NABF heavyweight titleholder will face undefeated Nigerian boxer Raphael Akpejiori on July 1st in the semi-finals of the Top Rank gala featuring Jared Anderson against Zhan Kossobutskiy. The event will be broadcast live on the Punching Grace network in Canada and on ESPN+ in the United States starting at 10:00 pm Quebec time.
This will be a tough opponent for EOTTM protégé Arslanbek Makhmudov (16-0, 15 KOs) to mark his return to the ring after his unequivocal victory over Michael Wallisch in the first round last December. The man who was named “2022 Champion of the Year” by the NABF and is currently ranked 5th in the world by the WBC will make his debut on American soil with this 10-round fight, and he has every intention of making a statement and shaking up boxing’s premier division.
“Fighting for the first time in the United States, the Mecca of boxing, represents a major opportunity for me, not only because it will give me the opportunity to showcase my talent on the world stage, but also because it brings me one step closer to my dream of becoming world champion. I have dedicated my life to boxing, worked hard, and made every sacrifice to get to this crucial moment in my career. I am ready. I’m ready to fight the best and to give a memorable show to the boxing fans around the world,” said Makhmudov.
At 6’8″ and 260 pounds, Raphael Akpejiori (15-0, 14 KOs) is just as big as the Russian-born colossus and has a record similar to Makhmudov with a 93% KO ratio. Of all his opponents, only 4 managed to survive the first round, and only the veteran Terrell Jamal Woods had the tenacity to stay on his feet for the entire fight. This is a battle that promises to be very intense.
“I’ve been preparing myself physically and mentally, and I can’t wait for the bell to ring to show the world what Raphael Akpejiori is made of! I don’t expect this fight to be easy, but I have been preparing for this moment for a long time. I am used to working hard. I’m used to adversity, obstacles, and pain. This is just a new chapter, and I am more than ready. This is an opportunity to represent the African continent on a global scale, and I don’t intend to disappoint,” Akpejiori said.
In the final bout of the evening, Jared Anderson (14-0, 14 KOs) and Zhan Kossobutskiy (19-0, 18 KOs) will face off in a fight scheduled for 10 rounds. The two pugilists promise fireworks as neither of them wants to say goodbye to their immaculate record. DeAndre Ware (15-4-2, 9 KOs) will be fighting for the first time since his loss to Christian Mbilli in the 2nd round in September 2022. Olympian Delante Johnson (8-0, 5 KOs), Dante Benjamin (6-0, 4 KOs), Husam Al Mashhadi (6-0, 5 KOs), as well as Jahi Tucker (10-0, 5 KOs), will also take part in the evening.