Rob Brant vs. Khasan Baysangurov – official weights
*** Rob Brant vs Khasan Baysangurov at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on ESPN and ESPN Deportes – Undercard Streaming on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT ***
By Jim Dower: WBA World middleweight champion Rob Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) weighed in at 158.6 pounds for his first defense of his title on Friday night against unbeaten #8 WBA Khasan Baysangurov (17-0, 7 KOs) on ESPN at the Grand Casino, Hinckley, Minnesota. The 21-year-old Baysangurov weighed in at 158.8 lbs.
This could be a tough fight for the 6’0″ Brant. The 21-year-old Baysangurov is really young, though, active and he’s good size at 6’1″. Brant won’t have the size advantage over him, and he’s going to have someone that isn’t going to mentally give up if he falls behind in the fight. Baysangurov is going to be fighting hard to try and rip the WBA title away from Brant. This is the biggest fight of Baysangurov’s career, so you can expect him to be fighting tooth and nail to try and dethrone Brant. It’s not as if Brant isn’t a flawed fighter. He’s got hole in his game that have been exposed in the past in his loss to Juergen Braehmer. If Baysangurov and his trainer have studied the video of Brant’s loss to Braehmer, they could possibly follow the blueprint to defeat him.
Brant 28, recently captured the WBA secondary middleweight title in beat champion Ryota Murata by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision last October in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brant used a simple approach in beating Murata by throwing a massive amount of punches.
Brant threw over 1000 shots, and with that many shots being thrown, he was too much Murata to keep up with him. Murata tends to throw one punch at a time, and it was easy for Brant to dominate him, even though a lot of his shots were being picked off on the gloves of the champion.
Baysangurov, 21, is a largely unknown fighter, who was born in Russia and lives in Kiev, Ukraine. His six-year pro resume contains no well known fighters that he’s beaten during his career. His best wins have come against these fighters: Guido Nicolas Pitto and Paul Valenzuela Jr. Pitto beat junior middleweight contender Jack Culcay by a 12 round unanimous decision six years ago in 2013. That shows you that Baysangurov has some talent. However, he’s going to need to raise his game for him to beat Brant, who will likely try and beat him by using the same game plan that he used to defeat Murata by throwing a massive amount of punches.
Baysangurov’s lack of punching power will limit what he can do to keep Brant off of him. If Baysangurov had power, he would be able to make Brant think twice before attacking him with his volume punching, but he lacks the power needed for him to do the job on him to keep him off.
Brant’s only career loss came at the hands of former WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer (50-3, 36 KOs) in a 12 round decision defeat in October 2017. The southpaw Braehmer had too much boxing skills, size and mobility for Brant to deal with in that fight. Braehmer showed how to slow down Brant’s workrate by using movement, and staying on the outside. Since that fight, Brant has won his last two matches in beating Colby Courter and Murata.
Unfortunately for Brant, his name is rarely mentioned with the other top middleweights in the division like Saul Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade, Daniel Jacobs and Billy Joe Saunders. Those guys aren’t interested in fighting Brant, because he has the secondary World Boxing Association 160 lb title, which isn’t considered the real title. It’s more of a trinket title made up by the WBA to have two champions in the middleweight division. Beating Baysangurov won’t do much to increase the popularity of Brant. He’s going to need to beat a lot better fghters than this for him to get popular enough for him to gain a fan base with the boxing public. The other top guys in the division have no real reason to want to fight Brant because of the type of opposition he’s been fighting. He stepped it up once in his career against Braehmer, and he was easily beaten him in a ones-sided fashion.
Top Rank needs to be inventive with Brant to get him in with guys that will raise his name value. If Brant could move up temporarily to super middleweight to face the like of Gilberto Ramirez or Jesse Hart, he would get a lot of attention that way from the boxing public. Brant could also move down to 154 and go after some of the lions like Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd, Jaime Munguia or Tony Harrison. Those would be excellent fights for Brant. It’s unclear whether Brant has enough talent to beat those kinds of guys, but at least he would be seen by the boxing fans fighting someone that they feel is an interesting opponent.
Other weights on Friday’s ESPN Boxing card:
Joshua Greer 117.8 vs. Giovanni Escaner 116.2
Mikaela Mayer 129.6 vs. Yareli Larios 129.6
Steven Nelson 172.4 vs. Felipe Romero 179
Ismail Muwendo 134.6 vs. Hevinson Herrera 133.8
Tyler Howard 159.8 vs. Cristian Olivas 159.6
Albert Bell 133 vs. Edward Kakembo 132.6