MTK really does go global this weekend, as the fast rising promotional outfit stage a show in Kazakhstan this Saturday. IFLtv stream live, while ESPN + screen in the USA.
The Barys Arena is the location, where Frenchman, Nordine Oubaali (15-0, KO11) will defend his WBC Bantamweight Title for the first time in the main event. His opponent for his maiden defence is Filipino, Arthur Vlllanueva (32-3-1, KO18) who is a slightly fortunate recipient of a World Title shot as he is 2-2-1 in his last five fights.
Lens born Oubaali turned professional in 2014 in Morocco, after a successful amateur career as a Bronze Medallist at the 2007 World Championships, and an Olympic campaign in both 2008 and 2012. Zhou Shiming and Michael Conlan would end his hopes in respective games in Beijing and London.
He would have thirteen straight fights in his native France, before his big opportunity at World honours arrived in January this year, following Japanese fighter, Takuma Inoue’s decision to vacate the WBC belt.
Oubaali would square off with old amateur foe, Rau’Shee Warren for the Title at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. He would turn in an impressive display to triumph unanimously on the scorecards.
Oubaali will have one eye on the World Boxing Super Series, where he will surely look to fight the winner of Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire, but he can’t look past dealing with Villanueva first.
Villanueva arrives in Kazakhstan not in the greatest of form.
He has unsuccessfully challenged for World Titles twice before. McJoe Arroyo oustcored Villanueva for the vacant IBF Super Flyweight Title in July 2015 when the fight was stopped in ten rounds due to a cut over Arthur’s eye.
He travelled to Leicester in April 2017 to challenge Zolani Tete for the WBO Bantamweight belt. He was floored in the eleventh round, and lost nearly every round on the cards. Since then his form has been patchy. Luis Nery stopped Villanueva in six rounds in November 2017 either side of two low key comeback wins in his native Philippines.
His last outing was in November 2018, and he was held to a surprise draw by the 11-5 Carlo Demecillo over ten rounds. His opportunity at Oubaali’s gold is also some surprise, and he shouldn’t cause too many problems for the Champion this weekend.
Prediction: Oubaalii is a slick operator, and Villanueva will certainly have his hands full in Kazakhstan. I expect Oubaali to look to make a statement, and will have observed that Villanueva is no stranger to visiting the canvas. I can see Oubaali scoring a knockdown early on, before stopping the challenger in the championship rounds.
There is plenty of home talent on the bill, with unbeaten hopes, Zhankov Turarov, Viktor Kotochigov and Sultan Zaurbek just a few in action.