Rob Brant vs. Khasan Baysangurov on Feb.15 in Minnesota
By Jim Dower: Rob Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) will be making his first defense of his WBA ‘regular’ middleweight title against #8 WBA Khasan Baysangurov (17-0, 7 KOs) in a voluntary defense on ESPN on February 15 on Top Rank Boxing at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota. Brant vs. Baysangurov will be headlining the ESPN card on the 15th of February. The card still hasn’t been formally announced by Top Rank, according to Dan Rafael.
It’s important that Brant win this fight, considering that he’s been mentioned recently as a potential opponent for former middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin in his next fight in early 2019. A fight between Brant and GGg wold be a nice one for the boxing public. It would give Brant a chance to show off his talent against a very good fighter. It would be up to Top Rank whether they want to take the chance of having Brant fight GGG. Golovkin needs an important fight to help get him in position for a trilogy fight against Canelo. A victory over ‘regular’ WBA middleweight champion Brant would be the ideal thing for GGG’s career.
Brant, 28, won the WBA secondary 160 pound title in his last fight in defeating champion Ryota Murata (14-2, 11 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on October 20 by the scores 118-110, 119-109 and 119-109.
What’s surprising is the fight wasn’t even close. Brant wasn’t supposed to beat Murata. It was thought that Brant would be outworked and possibly stopped by Murata, but he surprised a lot of boxing fans with the win. What made so many people doubt Brant was the way that he was beaten by 39-year-old light heavyweight Juergen Braehmer in October 2017. Braehmer totally schooled Brant in beating him by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision in the World Boxing Super Series 168 pound tournament in 2017.
Braehmer dropped down from the 175 lb weight class to compete in the 168 lb WBSS tournament, which was eventually won by Callum Smith. Brant didn’t possess the size or the boxing finesse to deal with an experienced fighter like Braehmer at that stage in his career. Perhaps if Brant had faced Braehmer last October instead of in 2017, he might he stood a chance of winning.
The 21-year-old Baysanguronov is the brother of former World Boxing Organization junior middleweight champion Zaurbek Baysangurov (29-2, 21 KOs), who held the WBO 154 lb title from 2011 to 2013. Zaurbek retired from boxing in 2014. The younger 21-year-old Baysangurov hasn’t fought anyone of note during his short six-year-old pro career. Up to now, Baysangurov’s best opponents have been from this group: Paul Valenzuela Jr., Guido Nicolas Pitto and Mirsad Cebo. Baysangurov hasn’t beaten anyone good enough for him to be ranked in the top 15 at the world level, but for some reason he’s rated #8 by the WBA and #14 by the World Boxing Organization.
Raymundo Beltran vs. Hiroki Okada on February 10
Former WBO lightweight champion Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1, 21 KOs) will be taking on Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round fight on ESPN on a Top Rank Boxing card on the undercard of WBC light welterweight champion Jose Carlos Ramirez’s title defense against Jose Zepeda on February 10 at the Save Mart Arena, in Fresno, California. Beltran will be moving up to the 140 lb weight class in hopes of turning things around with his career.
It could be hard for Beltran, as his punching power might not be as formidable in this weight class as it was when he was fighting at 135 at lightweight. This is a hard division for Beltran to be moving up to, as it’s stocked with a lot of talented fighters right now. Terence Crawford moved up to 147, but in his wake a lot of talented fighters have emerged that have filled his shoes quite nicely. One of them is Jose Ramirez. If Beltran can find a spot for himself at 140, a fight between him and the Top Rank promoted Ramirez is a natural.
Beltran, 37, lost his WBO lightweight title to Jose Pedraza in losing a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision last summer on August 25. Pedraza beat Beltran by the scores 115-112, 117-110 and 117-110.
Okada, 29, is ranked #3 WBA, #3 WBO, #5 IBF and #12 WBC. Okada has wins over Jason Pagara, Ciso Morales and Cristian Rafael Coria. Okada might have too much talent and youth for Beltran to deal with.
In other fights on the Ramirez vs. Zepeda card, talented featherweight contender Genesis Servania )32-1, 15 KOs) will be facing Carlos Castrol (21-0, 9 KOs), and lightweight Bryan Vasquez (37-3, 20 KOs) will be battling Enrique Tinoco (17-5, 12 KOs).