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Three Punch Combo: Introducing Agit Kabayel, Under the Radar Fights and More

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  • Three Punch Combo: Introducing Agit Kabayel, Under the Radar Fights and More

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    By Matt Andrzejewski

    THREE PUNCH COMBO: This past week, Top Rank announced the newest addition to its stable with the signing of EBU heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel (19-0, 13 KO’s). Thus far in his career Kabayel has fought primarily out of his native Germany and is largely unknown to US boxing fans. But with this move to Top Rank, Kabayel will vacate his EBU title and move his blossoming career to the United States. So just who is Agit Kabayel and can he make noise in the heavyweight division?

    Kabayel, soon to be 27, turned pro in June of 2011 and won his first 14 fights before earning his first substantial bout against the then undefeated Christian Lewandowski in June of 2016 for the vacant EBU title. Kabayel impressively broke down and stopped Lewandowski with a body shot in the seventh round to capture the belt.

    After one successful defense, Kabayel faced off against veteran contender Dereck Chisora in November of 2017. Entering the ring as the underdog, Kabayel impressively out-boxed Chisora on route to winning a majority 12-round decision. This gained him some notoriety, putting him on the map in the heavyweight division.

    Along with his 19 pro fights, Kabayel gained some noteworthy experience in sparring sessions with some of today’s top heavyweights including Tyson Fury and most recently Anthony Joshua.

    Inside the ring, Kabayel is a classic boxer-puncher. He likes to circle his opponents and to work behind his left jab from the orthodox stance. And that jab is not only Kabayel’s best punch, but can be a dominant weapon. It is a head snapping jab that acts more like a power punch. Kabayel uses that punch to frequently control range from the outside.

    Kabayel does possess a fairly sharp right hand that he will work frequently behind the jab. I would describe his hand speed as above average for a heavyweight; he can surprise his opposition with his quickness. He is also an excellent body puncher and will commit to working his opponent’s body from early in the fight. Though he does not carry one punch power, Kabayel has heavy hands and his punches can have a cumulative effect.

    From the video I watched, I really like what I see from Kabayel and see why Top Rank made the move to sign him. He has developed some really good skills and has yet to peak. With further grooming, Agit Kabayel can certainly make some noise down the road.

    Under The Radar Fight, Part One

    ESPN+ will broadcast Saturday’s big fight card from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas that will be headlined by the return of Tyson Fury (28-0-1, 20 KO’s) who will face Otto Wallin (20-0, 13 KO’s) in a fight scheduled for 12 rounds. While this bout will receive almost all the attention for this event, the stacked undercard has some very intriguing contests flying under the radar.

    Light heavyweights Felix Valera (18-2, 15 KO’s) and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (20-2, 17 KO’s) will meet in a fight scheduled for 10 rounds. The light heavyweight division is very deep with many of the top names needing opponents and though both men have had some recent setbacks they could each find themselves right back in the picture for a big fight with a win.

    Valera has won three straight since losing a unanimous decision to Sullivan Barrera in November of 2017. Prior to that defeat, Valera also dropped a wide 12-round decision to current light heavyweight belt holder Dmitry Bivol in May of 2016.

    Valera is a classic boxer-puncher. Fighting from the orthodox stance, he likes to use his feet to circle his opponents while flicking out the left jab. He will look to work combinations behind that jab. He is fairly athletic, possesses decent hand speed, and has a potent left hook. He certainly has the tools to be a solid contender. But defensively he has issues.

    Valera lacks any sort of head movement and often times keeps his hands held low. But one of the reasons why I like this fight is that Valera will be facing an opponent with similar defensive flaws and that could turn this contest into quite a shootout.

    Shabranskyy was once considered an elite prospect. Coming up the ladder, he put on some impressive showings that had many thinking he could one day be a big star. He was so fluid in the ring and possessed all the skills, along with devastating punching power.

    However, a fight in June of 2015 against journeyman Paul Parker exposed a major flaw. In that fight, a supposedly light hitting Parker nearly knocked Shabranskyy out in the first round. Shabranskyy showed tremendous heart to come back and stop Parker but serious questions arose about his chin.

    Those concerns proved to be real. In his two biggest fights against Sullivan Barrera and Sergey Kovalev, Shabranskyy was knocked out.

    Both Valera and Shabranskyy are at a crossroads. Both have skills, punching power and defensive liabilities. This has all the ingredients for a shootout, albeit a potentially quick one. Of all the fights in store this coming week, this is the one I am most excited to watch.

    Under The Radar Fight, Part Two

    Also on the Fury-Wallin card, former two division champion Jose Pedraza (26-2, 13 KO’s) makes a move up to 140 to face recent 140-pound world title challenger Jose Zepeda (30-2, 25 KO’s). This is a crucial fight for both men as the winner is likely positioned to receive a title shot at 140 in 2020.

    Pedraza, who lost his 130-pound title to Gervonta Davis in January of 2017, enjoyed a career resurgence in 2018. After two impressive showings early in the year, he captured a lightweight title belt with a clear-cut decision over Raymundo Beltran. And despite losing that belt to Vasiliy Lomachenko in his next outing, Pedraza’s stock did not take much of a hit given his solid effort against the fighter many consider to be the best pound for pound in the sport.

    Zepeda is a two-time world title challenger. His first shot ended in disappointment when he had to retire early due to a shoulder injury, but he fared much better in his second title shot, albeit in a losing effort, against 140-pound champion Jose Carlos Ramirez this past February. Despite being a sizable underdog, Zepeda gave Ramirez all he could handle for twelve rounds. In the end, Ramirez wound up holding onto his title with a tight majority decision. But Zepeda’s stock certainly rose in defeat.

    Stylistically, these two are matched well for what should be a crisp, competitive action fight. Pedraza is appropriately nicknamed “Sniper” because of his effective placement of his punches. Working behind a jab from the orthodox stance, Pedraza is very adept at setting up angles to land clean precision combinations.

    Zepeda, a southpaw, has an awkward style that can be a complex puzzle to solve for his opponents. Zepeda will use his feet to move around the ring and pick his spots to attack. When he does, he usually jumps into range and fires off a volley of punches before getting back on his bike. He is very slick with excellent head movement and subtle quickness that makes him able to elude and slip punches.

    In his fight against Ramirez, Zepeda was not quite busy enough to win the decision. Can he up his output a little more against Pedraza to catch the eyes of the judges? And how will the sharp accurate punching Pedraza deal with the slick defensive skills of Zepeda? On paper, this is about as evenly matched as it gets and we should see a very solid professional fight between these two on Saturday.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    I don't actually recall the reason why but somewhere on my computer hard drive is a copy of Shabranskyy's Russian passport. I think it was to prove to somebody (another writer maybe) that technically, they were spelling the guy's name wrong in stories about him. Thanks for the write-up Matt. 👍

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