By Malte Müller-Michaelis
On June 21st WBC cruiserweight champion Krysztof Wlodarczyk (47-2, 33 KOs) is traveling to Moscow to defend his title against unbeaten challenger Rakhim Chakhkiev (16-0, 12 KOs). Two weeks before the fight 2008 Olympic gold medalist Chakhkiev is already in great shape and focused on winning his first world title in the pro ranks. “Since winning the Olympic gold medal in Beijing my only dream was to become professional champion of the world”, says the 30-year-old Russian. “It took me five years to get my title shot but now I am happy that this dream will finally come true on June 21st. Wlodarczyk is a great champion but he never faced somebody with my power and quality. I urge all fans to be on their seats in time because I think this fight will not last long.”
Wlodarczyk won the WBC world championship in May 2010 by stopping Giacobbe Fragomeni in eight and successfully defended his belt four times. Fighting abroad is also not new to the 31-year-old “Diablo” who traveled to Australia in November 2011 to stop local hero Danny Green in the 11th.
“Right now lots of people are talking about Huck vs. Afolabi III but I am sure that Wlodarczyk vs. Chakhkiev will be the much better fight”, says Russian promoter Vyacheslav Karakash. “I don’t want to take anything away from Huck or Afolabi but I believe that Rakhim Chakhkiev is the best cruiserweight fighter in the world today. Actually, I think that he could beat Huck and Afolabi on the same night! He is just that good! Everybody who hasn’t seen him fight so far should make sure that they tune in to see the world championship against Wlodarczyk. It will be a great event!”
On the undercard former world champions Vitali Tajbert (23-2, 6 KOs) and Elio “The Kid” Rojas (23-2, 14 KOs) wil compete in separate tune-up bouts for a possible showdown later this year. Tajbert was WBC super featherweight champion in 2009 and 2010 before losing his title in Japan to Takahiro Ao. Rojas had beaten Ao in 2009 to become WBC featherweight champion and lost that title to Jhonny Gonzalez in Mexico in April 2012. Now both fighters compete in the lightweight division (135 lbs.) and seem to be on collision course.
There were also talks about heavyweight contender Manuel Charr (23-1, 13 KOs) returning to Moscow where he suffered his only career loss in a WBC world title fight against Vitali Klitschko last September when he was stopped by a cut. But Charr’s fight on the undercard hasn’t been finally confirmed yet.
However, the main event between Wlodarczyk and Chakhkiev alone promises to be exciting enough to carry the whole card. And there can’t be any doubt that Moscow is a good place for exciting cruiserweight fights since Guillermo Jones stopped local hero Denis Lebedev in a bloody war on May 17th to defend his WBA world championship. “After Lebedev’s surprising defeat it is even more important for Rakhim Chakhkiev to beat Wlodarczyk and finally bring a world cruiserweight title to Russia”, says promoter Karakash. “This is not only a world title fight. It’s a fight for Russia!”