Rob Brant vs. Khasan Baysangurov – preview & prediction
By Mike Smith: Rob Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) will be making his first defense of his WBA World middleweight tonight against undefeated and largely unknown fringe contender Khasan Baysangurov (17-0, 7 KOs) in the main event in a triple header at the Grand Casino, in Hinckley, Minnesota. Brant-Baysangurov is the main event on ESPN/ESPN Deportes. The card starts at 9:00 PT. The undercard fights begin at 6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
Brant, 28, has the ‘regular’ World Boxing Association middleweight title. The WBA 160 lb title that many fans considered to be the one that actually is the WBA Super World belt held by Saul Canelo Alvarez. The WBA has made a mess of things with them having 2 belt holders at middleweight (160), as well as in the following weight classes: 105, 108, 118, 126, 130, 147, 154, 168, 200 and heavyweight.
The 28-year-old Brant looked great in beating WBA ‘secondary’ middleweight champion Ryota Murata by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision four short months ago in October to snatch his WBA title in a career best win for him. Brant beat Murata by the scores 119-109, 119-109 and 118-110.
Few boxing fans gave Brant much of a chance of beating Murata, but he proved them wrong by turning up his punch out to the levels that one would see from the lighter weight classes in throwing 1262 punches in the fight.
Brant three over 100 punches per round. That’s an insane amount of punches for a middleweight to throw. When welterweight Manny Pacquiao threw over 1000 punches in his fight against Joshua Clottey in 2010, boxing fans were highly impressed at his work rate, but they attributed it to him starting out his career at the lighter weight classes. But for a middleweight like Brant to throw that many punches, it was an incredible athletic fete. If Brant can continue to average an enormous work rate like that, it’s going to be hard for his opposition to beat him, no matter who is it. Talented middleweights Saul Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin don’t throw anywhere near that amount of shots.
Brant, who was born in Minnesota and now lives Dallas, Texas, will be returning tonight to make his first defense of his WBA title from his home state in facing the unbeaten 21-year-old Baysangurov. Brant is beatable. He’s already lost to Juergen Braehmer in the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament in 2017. That fight was hardly a fair one thought, as Braehmer was much too big and skilled for Brant, who had never fought a technical boxer like that before. The southpaw Braehmer had too many tools in his toolbox for Brant to deal with. The size advantage that Braehmer had was bad enough, but when you factored in his incredible technical boxing skills and his experience, it was far too much for Brant to deal with in that fight.
Baysangurov is the younger brother of former WBO junior middleweight world champion Zaurbek Baysangurov (29-1, 21 KOs), who retired from boxing in 2014. Zaurbek was a very good fighter
Brant is in a tough spot not being able to fight the likes of Canelo, Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade and Billy Joe Saunders. Canelo, Andrade and Jacobs all fight on DAZN. Charlo is with Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and SHOWTIME. Brant is with Top Rank and fights on ESPN. It’s going to be very difficult for Brant to get fights against those guys due to the politics of boxing. If Golovkin ends up ESPN, then Brant would have a very good chance of fighting him. However, it’s unlikely GGG will sign with Top Rank.
“I think once there’s a hard enough push from fans and there’s too much money in one of these fights not to make the fight, they’ll happen,” Brant said via ESPN.com. “I just need to continue to win. I could spend my time calling out guys with different sanctioning bodies and networks and get momentum going, but the biggest momentum is to win and beat people. That’s where my head’s at… be entertaining and be a fighter people want to watch, and then the bigger names will call you,” Brant said.
Brant is going to have to look out of this world good tonight in beating Baysangurov for him to have a chance of getting the big stars like GGG and Canelo to fight him. It’s going to take more than beating an unknown guy like the 21-year-old Baysangurov for him to get the top dogs to fight him. Brant will have to put together a series of wins over top contenders before he can potentially lure Canelo or GGG to fight him. It’s probably not too realistic for Brant to get the 36-year-old Golovkin to fight him. The Kazakhstan fighter is coming to the end of his career, and it’s believed that he’s only focusing on going after a trilogy fight with Canelo before he retires from boxing.
From the outset, Brant is going to jump on Baysangurov and look to batter him for as long as he can with his high work rate until he gets a stoppage tonight. You can expect Brant to throw over 100 punches per round like he did against Murata to outwork Baysangurov. Brant has nothing to worry about in terms of the punching power of Baysangurov, given that he’s not much of a puncher. Brant is going to be able to stand in front of him and let loose with his punches. Look for Brant to win this fight by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in winning very round of the fight. Brant likely won’t get the knockout, because his punching power isn’t good enough, and he’s facing a young guy with great stamina. It’s going to be a fun fight for the boxing fans that tune in tonight on ESPN to see Brant show off his talent against the young 21-year-old Baysangurov.
The chief support for tonight’s Brant vs. Baysangurov card is bantamweight Joshua Greer Jr. (19-1-1, 9 KOs) facing Giovanni Escaner (19-3, 12 KO). Also on the card is unbeaten Mikaela Mayer (9-0, 4 KO) will be battling Yareli Larios (13-1-1, 3 KO) in an 8-round super featherweight bout. That should be an interesting action-packed fight from start to finish. Mayer really brings in with her two-fisted fighting style.