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The forgotten losses of Agit Kabayel

Image: The forgotten losses of Agit Kabayel

By Gav Duthie: Agit Kabayel is a dark horse in the heavyweight division. He is 22-0 (14) with impressive wins over Derek Chisora as well as Herve Hubeaux and Andriy Rudenko.

His next outing will see him face big-punching Croat Agron Smakici 19-1 (17) for the vacant EBU title in 2023. Despite his name often being mentioned as a contender, his career seems to be somewhat stalling.

The EBU title is something he won and later gave up in his breakout win against Derek Chisora, and now he is going back in for it in what feels like a backward step.

That fight with Del Boy was five years ago, and Chisora has lost another five times since then but has still fought for a world title. Kabayel has only fought once a year each year since that night and appears to be in no rush to get anywhere.

Whether it’s a lack of ambition or promotional opportunities remains to be seen. The other point to be made is that the perfect record isn’t quite what it seems.

He lost a couple of fights ten years ago that have managed to stay off his record. This article discusses those and how far he might go.

Why no big opportunities

His win over Chisora in 2017 should have brought in big opportunities, but it seemed nobody noticed. Chisora bounced back with a win over Carlos Takam, and nobody seemed to be interested in the carrot of the EBU title held by Kabayel.

He defended against Rovcanin and Rudenko, then gave it up to fight for world honors. His decision seemed to pay off as he was within touching distance of a fight with Tyson Fury at the end of 2020, but it never happened.

If you cast your mind back, Fury had beaten Wilder up early in 2020, but Deontay had said they had to fight again due to a rematch clause which, at the time, nobody cared to see.

Fury said it wasn’t happening, the deadline had passed, and he was going to fight Kabayel. Then they shelved that to face AJ, which was usurped by the Wilder trilogy, which of course, in the end, turned out to be a classic.

Kabayel’s last two fights have come against European journeyman Pavel Sour, and former contender turned journeyman Kevin Johnson so will this next fight against Smakici gain any more clout to get a big fight?

The hidden defeats

You would think, given he dodged a bullet with two early defeats that were unrecorded, that his promotional team SES could work better with his perceived undefeated record and slick skills but not as yet.

Early in his career, in 2011 and 2012, he competed in the ‘Bigger’s Better’ tournament shown on Eurosport, which was a prizefighter style 8-man heavyweight tournament over three rounds in one night with a quarter, semi, and final.

Kabayel entered the tournament inexperienced at 19 years of age with a 3-0 professional record.

In 2011 he lost in the quarter-finals to eventual winner Evgeny Orlov who has a career record of 17-18-1 (13). Orlov has lost to the likes of Johann Duhaupas x2 and Robert Helenius and, after a short retirement, most recently lost to Maxin Babanin in 2022, the Russian famous for defeating Tyson Fury in the amateurs.

Kabayel entered again in 2012 and faired better, this time reaching the final but lost on a split decision to Fabrice Aurieng, who retired in 2015 with a record 11-8 (3).

He has lost to the likes of Dave Allen and Johann Duhaupas but does hold a professional win over one of France’s most famous heavyweights Gregory Tony.

There are boxing events going on all the time where the organizations are not recognized by Boxrec.

These tournaments were not recognized, so the losses are not posted. This is of huge benefit to Kabayel, but I keep waiting for him to take advantage of his skills and good fortune.

Next fight

Agron Smakici is a good opponent. He has power and holds a good recent ko win over Lenroy Thomas. His only real foray into a higher level, though, ended in disaster when knocked out in round 1 against undefeated prospect Kazakh Zhan Kossobutskiy.

Kabayel needs to sin this comfortably and get a big fight by the end of 2023, or I feel he will forever be a European-level fighter.

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